Editor’s Note: This is part four in a fascinating ongoing series exploring feminism’s transformations and its impact on culture, history, politics, and relationships. Be sure and check out the first three installments in Amelia’s series. Part 1: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History, Part 2: How 8 Songs from the ’90s Define Third-Wave Feminism, and Part 3: 5 First-Wave Feminists Who Made a Real Difference.
Once a label for women who were fighting real battles, “feminist” is now for men and women who are easily offended and looking for a reason. Here are a few times that feminists proved themselves to be obsolete, while simultaneously making sane women look bad.
1. F-Bombs for Feminism
Want to see little girls curse like sailors for no apparent reason? You’re in luck!
Really, feminists? You need to use children as props to score cheap points? There are so many things wrong with this video that I hardly know where to start. The obvious starting point is the language. I’m not just offended that little girls are swearing in this video, I’m offended that they have used children at all and I’m offended that they’re putting swear words into their mouths. None of these kids fully understand the issues for which they’re being used (which are ostensibly inequality of pay and sexual violence), they’re just adorable puppets being used by the adults (in age, at least, though not maturity) in their lives.
One of my main problems with the video, aside from the use of children, is that it’s worthless. Sure, they have garnered attention through shock value, but does anyone remember anything but the swearing? Not really. The message has been overpowered by the medium.
The video asks viewers to chip in $15 to buy a pro-feminism t-shirt, one-third of which actually goes to “kick-ass charities.” One third? I think that says it all. Good job, crazy people!
I can be a little hard on feminists sometimes, but that’s because the brand has been so largely destroyed by the bizarre priorities of those using that moniker from the 1960s to present. As time has gone on, it has just gotten worse. Don’t get me wrong, however — I have a lot of respect for the women who got things done in the beginning.
Here are some women who really made a difference.
5. Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony worked for social reform in America on several fronts. Like other women working for equality, she was passionate about abolition, collecting anti-slavery petitions at age 17. She went on to become the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.
When she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton, they joined forces. Together, they began the American Equal Rights Association, campaigning for the rights of women and blacks. They began a newspaper in 1868, The Revolution, which went into issues of women’s rights. The next year, they founded the National Woman Suffrage Association.
Unfortunately, women’s suffrage had yet to pass when Anthony went ahead and cast a vote in 1872, and she was arrested. Six years later, Anthony and Stanton worked for Congress to be presented with an amendment granting women’s suffrage, and it was finally passed in 1920 as the 19th Amendment.
Susan B. Anthony was the first woman (after a representation of Lady Liberty) to be featured on a U.S. coin.
Editor’s Note: See part I here in Amelia Hamilton’s series exploring the transformations in feminist history and ideology: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History
The third wave of feminism got started in the 1990s as a reaction against the second wave fought by their mothers (both figuratively and, sometimes, literally). There were some central tenets at the heart of third-wave feminism, and they can be illustrated in contemporary music. Join me on a walk through ’90s music, and the ways in which these songs illustrate third-wave feminist ideals.
1. Third-wave feminism went beyond legal equality for women, but empowered women to fight for other social issues as well.
One key way in which third-wave feminism differed from earlier waves was that it wasn’t just about women. Take, for example, the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, founded in 1992. One of the founders was Rebecca Walker, daughter of second-wave feminist Alice Walker. In 1997, the group became the Third Wave Foundation, and was not only dedicated to traditional women’s rights issues, but worked to “explicitly connect women’s issues to issues of race, sexuality, class, and ability.” This was bigger than simply legal equality for women.
Arrested Development’s “Mama’s Always on Stage” (1992)
Mama’s always on stage
Can’t be a revolution without women
Can’t be a revolution without children
1. Early feminism had a point. There were actual societal changes that needed to be made.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, feminism was fairly easy to understand. It was a movement of those who believed that women should enjoy the same freedoms as their male counterparts. This included access to the same level of education and freedom in choosing what they wanted from life–marriage, family, a career. Early feminists were fighting for this equality of status, to be seen as equal to men and, if married, to have rights separate from their husbands. Much of this was a reaction against the “feminine ideal” in Victorian society, which argued that women belonged in the home rather than in educational institutions or the workplace. Hooray for these early pioneers of equality!
It’s Valentine’s Day and romance is in the air. Am I allowed to say that? It would seem that romance is no longer allowed in American society, and I’ve recently figured out why. It’s not because of men, as women like to think. It’s because women ruin everything for women.
I’ve suspected this for some time but, last week, events transpired to confirm my suspicions. It all started with the Audi Super Bowl commercial. For those of you who missed it, a geeky guy is so overcome with confidence at being lent his dad’s Audi that he marches right into the big dance and kisses the prom queen. I loved it and, by the reaction shot, so did she. You know why? Because he was a man. Because it was romantic. No, the political correctness police opined, it was not romantic at all. In fact, it was “rapey.” Rapey.
That was bad enough, but it didn’t end there. The feminist shrews among our population then went after the iconic image of the sailor kissing a nurse in a spontaneous celebration for the allied victory over Japan in World War II. These were, by any measure, extraordinary circumstances. This VJ day kiss, one of the most romantic moments ever committed to film, the image that has made women swoon since 1945? Turns out that’s rapey, too, according to modern-day feminists. Do you know why men think women are crazy? It’s because women act crazy. And that, dear reader, is how women ruin everything for women.