Recently one of my articles about feminism where I used the decal on the left received a readership of some considerable numbers in the USA. Apart from a large number of comments, I also received emails. One in particular struck me.
The email was from a woman in the USA (we shall call her Jane Doe) who is an undercover feminist. I replied to Jane asking if I could publish her letter anonymously. Her response both pleased and shocked me. Jane said yes, I could publish her letter, but she also said:
Plus, I don’t really need prospective employers dismissing my resume just because I’ve been perceived as a ‘radical feminist’.
Are American employers so sexist? I do hope not!
Here is what Jane wrote to me.
I don’t know if I really want my experience shared, but if you like my blog posts at all, feel free to share them/those/my blog.
I feel really isolated and lonely. It’s not like I’m surrounded by feminists first hand. Sometimes I get so mad about gender inequality, it makes me sick.
I just lost my best friend of 20 years because I had introduced my feminist Facebook page for my Blogger account to her 9 yr. old daughter. Maybe it was “wrong” of me to do but I’m just puzzled because she said if maybe all the “feminist bs” hadn’t happened in the 1950s (? okay…) so many kids wouldn’t be growing up fatherless here in the States. And maybe it was myopic on my side but the 9 yr. old was also my goddaughter and my friend – her mother, a stripper, has been beaten, gang raped, estranged from this child’s father since he’s a mentally and verbally abusive crack addict…I don’t know why she would be so anti-feminist thought despite having so many negative experiences at the influence of men. I just wanted to allow my goddaughter to investigate feminist thought thinking it could be no worse for her than what Miley Cyrus pulled at the MTV VMAs. Especially since my goddaughter is a big fan of Miley. I feel like she’s too young for that type of exposure and I’m distraught that Miley Cyrus is too busy cashing in to realize that a lot of young girls that idealize her from her Hannah Montana days still aren’t yet old enough to separate the distinction of young vs. “old” Miley.
I wish someone had tried to introduce me to feminist thought at a young age. Instead I was denied Legos since they were a “boy’s toy”.
I read some of your posts today for the first time and I wanted to thank you for writing them. As I sit here sniffling and sipping on my “Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade” (of course seasonal only for Breast Cancer Research) I don’t feel so alone, or crazy, or misguided.
I look forward to discovering more of what you write and this site.
I wish I could sit down with you and drink some tea or something with you and just listen to you speak.
I’ve decided to not have children because of the ways world events are unfolding.
Again, I just wanted to thank you. Please don’t ever stop writing. Because you’re not alone either.
She has since share some other thoughts with me, however I suggest you visit Jane’s site and read her thoughts for yourself.
Jane also said, in her second email:
In America, we are all very isolated from each other. Geographical distance and mismatched schedules are a real problem. Also a lot of peoples priorities vary due to varying ignorance and personal experience.
As I do not live in America, I cannot confirm or deny Jane’s perspective, but I suggest if this is one person’s experience of being a woman in this century, whether in the USA or any country, it is probably the experience of others as well. This ties in to exactly what I was saying in my article that lead to this (link at the top of this article): we need help out there for grass roots women TODAY.
Note: I have not seen exactly what Miley Cyrus did, I do know it started a media storm. I am not personally commenting on Miley in any way.
Since you haven’t seen the MTV VMA show (you’re probably better off not seeing it) I thought you might find this article interesting as it cites actual FCC complaints that Cyrus’s “performance” generated. The last being particularly touching and compelling since it’s impossible for parents to protect their children from televised content that can happen in public spaces in the US as TVs have proliferated every social arena: waiting rooms, checkout lines, even about men’s urinals in sports bars. http://www.uproxx.com/tv/2013/09/ranking-our-favorite-complaints-the-fcc-received-about-miley-cyruss-vmas-performance/
This is the flawed thinking that really bothers me. This woman has had a hard time in life, and so has her friend. It’s safe to assume that many other women have also had similar problems. It is not reasonable to assume that ALL women have these problems. So lets look at the facts. The friend is a sex worker. Sex workers male and female are at much greater risk for sexual assaults. This isn’t a “woman” thing but a sex worker thing. We need to do a better job of protecting sex workers, not women. Then this friend made a very bad choice of choosing an abusive drug addict for a partner. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that this is a perpetuating the cycle of abuse thing, not a one off bad choice. I’ll also bet that the abusive drug addict was perpetuating the cycle of abuse that he suffered as a child. This isn’t a “woman” thing, but a child abuse thing. We don’t need a gendered movement to solve non-gendered problems. A gendered movement trying to solve non-gendered problems will only make it worse.
You could very well be right. I am not a psychologist so I would not attempt to assess the situation.
However I do theorise there is a link between subjugation of women and child abuse.
Agree we need to do more to protect sex workers. One was murdered here recently and there was much talk of the lack of outrage yet she was someone’s daughter, friend, etc the same as any woman who is not a sex worker.
Whatever the specific details of any individual case, we need to do better.
One problem. According to the ABS’s Personal Safety Survey, women initiate violence against partners 3 x more than men do & are also responsible for over 60% of child abuse. The main differences are the fact women are generally less able to harm men than the reverse & since women have the majority of custody of children, most of the child abuse that ensues goes unreported. We live in a society in which the perception that women are persecuted is officially endorsed & exploited; often at the expense of truth & equality or worse. An example is the fact that the ABS is often forced to gather its own data independently for the PSS because publicly funded organisations like the Domestic Violence Clearing House simply refuse to release statistics detailing female initiated violence (particularly against men) because the reality threatens the agendas they espouse. Nothing personal against anyone, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reasons why I feel an obligation to oppose the evil that I see feminism as, But don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in equality or egalitarianism as it is correctly called (feminism is just female facism) & recently attended the pro-Reproductive Health rallies in Manila. In the Philippines, around 15 women die each day in child birth & like most women in the 3rd world, face genuine adversity far beyond whatever it is the feminists of this very advanced & liberal nation reckon they are enduring.
I believe you are citing American statistics? I’d really like to see sources, if you wouldn’t mind. Numbers like this get bandied around without substantiation, you see.
There are radical feminists I agree, who do the cause of gender equality no favours at all. If you read other articles on this site, you will have noticed I don’t have much time for them either.
Mind you, given legislation passed in the USA attempting to control women just in the last few years, I wouldn’t call the USA all that liberal.
Not all women, but way too many globally.
Again, very flawed thinking. Things are very bad for men and women in Afghanistan. If we are talking about global problems, we can talk about global problems. Yes, really bad things happen in Iran. What laws should change in Montana because of atrocities in Yemen?
I think your thinking is flawed, but you will not see that.
You need to show, not tell. Telling me my thinking is flawed is a faulty argument, you need to demonstrate it. So far, you haven’t.
Yes, terrible things happen globally to men and women, hence the high numbers of asylum seekers. However here we are speaking of subjugation of women, not political unrest.
The problems of the world are not “subjugation of women”. The problems are political unrest, poverty, religious fundamentalism, nepotism, unbridled greed, and many others. None of them are “subjugation of women”. These are the problems that need to be solved. “Subjugation of women” is a symptom, one of many, that results from these problems. “Women” is a grouping that explains nothing and is far to diverse to address. Poverty is not. War is not. Religious fundamentalism is not. These are very clear groupings that explain much and are narrow enough to be addressed. When you make the grouping “Women” then you are in the position of trying to change laws in Georgia to fix problems in Jordan. This simply won’t work
In short, I know your talking about “subjugation of women” and that is the flawed thinking.
If you know I am writing on a specific topic, gender equality, why are you trying to tell me my thinking is flawed because I am not writing about things you think I should write about?
That is not logical. I am writing about A problem, not every other problem known to mankind. If you wish to comment, please stay on topic.
You have identified a problem, The Subjugation of women. You are writing about this problem, this topic. What I’m saying is that you have misdiagnosed the problem. You are starting with the assumption that the subjugation of women is a problem, and are finding support for that position. This is very flawed thinking. Women are people and people face many problems. This means that there are many problems that women face so finding these problems is very easy, supporting the incorrect assumption that the subjugation of women is a real problem is very easy. The problems that we face are not gendered. The problems that we face are not “women’s issues”. The problems that we face are human problems. Trying to create gendered solutions for non-gendered problems is only making things worse.
If you found a blog talking about how oppressed whites are because graduation rates are falling, incomes are stagnating and our health is getting worse (these are very real problems whites face) would you stay “on topic” of the oppression of whites? Or would you point out that these are economic problems every one of every race is facing?
I have no idea why you keep mentioning changing laws in USA states. Not being an American, I am not familiar with your laws. I accept many readers will be, and they will comment if they so choose.
Have you actually read the original article, from which this article flowed? Just curious.
I’m in the US, so when I think of random place, it’s one closer to home. Here let me rephrase with generic names, maybe then what I’m saying will make sense.
Country A is an oppressive tyrannical theocracy. Country B is free with a mostly functional representative democracy. Things are really bad in Country A and rather good in Country B. What can country B change internally to improve the situation in Country A? Will changing normal clothing or job titles for a group in country B have any affect on country A?
I find the end of this article of yours quite flawed actually although you make great points about agency. http://poisonedwell.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/feminism-is-putting-women-in-burkas/
I’ll let others speak on it. As I am married to a Muslim, I feel it inappropriate comment myself. It seems to me you have used the clothing as a tool, rather than addressing the real issue of agency in the western world.
If you would like to discuss the content of my blog, it would be appropriate to do it in the comments of my blog.
I do not wish to, as I believe I already stated.
genderneutrallanguage – I have read all of your comments on this article and felt inclined to respond to you. Firstly, strippers are not sex workers per say, you cannot pool them into the same circle as porn starlets and prostitutes. Sure, there’s the occasional, or maybe even semi-frequent, dive bar where erotic dancing serves as a front for prostitution but I would venture that that’s a rarity. Strippers engage in sexual fantasy, not actual sex work. There are even subcategories of “titty bars” since you seem to not be aware of that, I’ll list them here for you: bikini bars (kinda like the so-called “family restaurant” Hooters), topless bars, and fully nude outlets. Most strip clubs have very strict rules such as no-touching, non-solicitation of client phone numbers–to dissuade dating regulars more so than prostitution–no drug use allowed or condoned, not being allowed to leave the bar alone or drunk. Some titty bar employers, the responsible ones, require the ladies to blow into a breathalyzer until their blood alcohol content drops below the legal limit so they can drive on the roads safely.
Since I wrote the email and that’s my friend, allow me to inform you that her sexual assaults occurred in her late teens at a hotel party gone horrible wrong, turning into a hostage gang rape situation that lasted for days. Then there was the more recent event of a first date where when she refused the man sex he chose to beat her and kick her out of his car, that’s when she was working a “straight job” – you know the kind, that pays minimum wage and doesn’t help a single mom raise three kids alone. Then there was the guy that was her husband’s friend that drugged her, then there was her one friend’s husband who was stalking her and sexually assaulted her. NONE of these events occurred because she was a stripper, they occurred because of what she looked like. They occurred because of the inflated sense of male entitlement.
Secondly, you saying “this isn’t a woman thing” makes it very clear to me that you are not a woman and that is why you lack comprehension, dare I say, in general. And something about your commentary lacks a contingency that boarders on mansplaining, where I’m literally assuming that you are an inexperienced American male, leading a sheltered narrow life and thus having a limited ability to emphasize.
Thirdly, YOU have misdiagnosed the problem. You have completely missed the point as to why I, an American female, reached out to someone on the other side of our Mother Earth. I lost a 20 year friendship–she moved to a different state when we were 16, but we kept deep ties to each other, even pre-internet–because I introduced my goddaughter who’s pushing 10, who’s pushing being a “tween”, to feminist thought and my friend chastised me for it blaming second wave feminism for the increase of single mothers being the head of household in The States. My question was, and still is quite frankly, why is it SO appalling to teach a young girl to think for herself, to question the blatant gender engineering that is occurring in America today (see Anita Sarkeesian’s ‘LEGO & Gender Part I & II’ via Google), so she’s educated and empowered enough to recognize her own self-worth and not be swayed by the siren call of adverts and corporate sell outs like Miley Cyrus? How was opening the door to that reality so awful when compared to Cyrus’s outrageous VMA performance? Cyrus might be 20 but her fan-base leftover from her Hannah Montana days certainly IS not. There is a very real war for our minds male, female, hermaphrodite, transgender every day. It’s like thought pollution and yes, it limits the dynamics of the human spirit.
Fourthly, I did not disclose any personal information in this email (unless you’ve bothered to read some of my blog, which I don’t think you actually have) that should cause you to think that I’ve had “a hard time in life”. My friend came from a healthy non-abusive Puerto Rican family. Any abuse she’s endured has not been because of your bullshit assessment that she’s…a quote/unquote “sex worker”…it’s been at the hands of men she’s erroneously trusted and/or loved.
I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow or I would continue writing. But I encourage you to read the following five books: “No Logo”, “Bowling Alone”, “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century”, “Self Made Man”, and “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture”. I encourage you to watch the documentary “The Invisible War”. And just think. Think for a very long time. Think for yourself.
Because these are all ultimately intertwined and some very complicated issues. For if in America, quality childcare was free or employer provided, some women wouldn’t strip. For if in America, college was actually free, a lot of women wouldn’t strip. For if in America, women weren’t bypassed due to their sex or appearance for upper-management positions or if employers paid a live-able wage or if stripping wasn’t so glamorized or romanticized by the media, or if it wasn’t for the seemingly hourly reminders that you’re only as good as your flesh as packaging, things would be different. But things aren’t different. Continuously mothers and children are idealized in this society just as much as they’re shortchanged, bulldozed over, neglected, and abused. Like the notion of “welfare queen”? What?! Do you have any comprehension of how much tax evasion multi-conglomerate corporations are guilty of? Do you see the irony in pouring millions upon millions of dollars into movies but not into our infrastructure or schools? Do you not hear the people on the radio saying insane things, how it’s “not rape-rape”–rape is rape! Or when they question if children should have AC in the classroom, saying their sense of entitlement is the driving factor and nothing is said on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?! What America are you living in?
But like you said, this is the flawed thinking that really bothers me. So on that, we can agree.
Sex work isn’t just fucking. It is selling your sexuality. Titty bars are sex work.
“why is it SO appalling to teach a young girl to think for herself, to question the blatant gender engineering”
I fully agree teach all children to think for themselves and question gender roles and gender engineering. I’m against indoctrinating girls to believe in a magical “Patriarchy” that oppresses all girls to benefit boys. There is gender engineering and enforcement of gender roles. This is not gendered issues. Boys are more prohibited from playing house with barbie than girls are prohibited from playing with legos.
On rape. Either everything every where all the time with out exception to every person always is rape (this makes the word meaningless) or there are things that are not rape. Trying to expand the definition of rape to include anything that has ever made any woman at all uncomfortable does nothing but dilute the sympathy real victims get. So not rape is not rape. You calling it rape doesn’t change what is not rape.(this is not about your friend but the people on the radio)
Please provide proof that your definition of sex work is the legal definition and in what jurisdictions. By that I mean in Saudi Arabia you maybe correct, I doubt that is the case is Melbourne Australia or New York USA. Clarification would be interesting.
By your definition a lot of TV ad work would qualify, not to mention billboards and print media ads.
Also, who are these people on the radio calling “not rape” rape? Are you any better qualified to assess the degree of sexual assault?
Sex worker is a social and moral distinction, not a legal one. There is not a legal definition.
Yes, lots of tv and advertizing is sex work. This is a real problem.
Feminists, not the radio pundents have identified everything from being looked at funny to standing still in a crowded train as “rape”. The radio pundents are calling these not rapes, not rapes.
I recommend you check the Sex Work Act (1994)
“The unidentified woman, now 19, was 14 when she says Melendez intimidated her into a sexual relationship.” — on the radio the male radio host was saying that when she was 14 coercion by an older man into a sexual relationship wasn’t “rape, rape”, he was saying statutory rape wasn’t “rape, rape” and this crap made the news because the rapist was being told to pay child support and even though he previously did not want to have anything to do with the child he helped create, all of a sudden he wanted visitation rights. And your crack about “calling everything from getting looked at on the train wrong rape” reminded me of this “Shouting Back” segment: http://vimeo.com/67582923 Glad you realize that “sex sells” being applied to adverts and film and tv is “sex work” and a “real problem” because that’s partly what’s helping to fuel cyberfeminism. Men can rape men too you know?–or maybe you don’t know. Either way, I feel very sorry for you and have no idea why you’re spreading nonsense negativity like a troll. So I’m not going to feed a troll anymore. Good luck with your endeavors, it appears that arguing with feminists so you look ignorant and pigheaded is undoubtedly your objective going exactly as planned. I just pray that you don’t have a daughter.
Read more: http://foxnewsinsider.com/2013/08/27/shocking-legal-battle-convicted-rapist-wants-visitation-rights-child#ixzz2fP3Idboi
Thank you Jane. 🙂
Poignant yet uplifting as your words have helped and empowered Jane…thanks for sharing 🙂
Thank you Lee-Anne but I am not sure I have empowered her at all really. She is still hiding in fear – fear born of a society that still, in 2013, subjugates half the population. Not all of society of course and we have made leaps and bounds since we got the vote in western countries. But we aren’t there yet.
Really glad you raised this. An issue that has bothered me for a very long time. We often see ‘feminists’ on TV on a particular issue, yet we don’t actually have ‘real life’ examples in the burbs & regions. Maybe time to focus on the smaller issues affecting women & their quality of life as often feminists are ‘threatening’ to the punters in the suburbs and therefore it is not helpful.
An aunt, sister, family friend giving young girls good examples (as above) is way more far reaching in effect. Just imagine how much domestic violence could be curbed if even 5% more women grew up with a better self-esteem and an innate expectation of respect?
Thank you Noely. The email really touched me. Her second email had a lot more detail which I also have permission to publish and I will think about doing that. Really this site is meant to concentrate on our history not feminism, but with my sexist treatment at the hands of our own government plus the kids background, gender equality is important in this home.