Feminism

Recent posts

Making Sense Of Sex Work

In previous posts here on MSP, I’ve struggled to make sense of sex work as a feminist and as a scholar. I’ve discussed why legislating sex work is problematic, and that post sparked a further rumination on how my position as someone who doesn’t have sex work experience means I have to check my privilege when talking about these issues. Because this continues to be a hotly debated topic, I thought I’d share some resources that have been helpful for me in making sense of sex work. First, have a look at the sex worker flow chart here, which encourages viewers to reflect on their reasons for being against sex work, providing a list of consequences of taking those stances. This Feministe post, The War on Sex Workers, emphasizes that we should view sex worker rights within the larger issue of women’s rights (though I’d urge people to keep in mind that men sell sex too, as do people not identifying within a binaristic gender). Continue Reading →

Tips For Men With Good Intentions

Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):

Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →

Why Beyoncé is My New Favorite Feminist

Ashamed as I may be to admit it, I was a little late on the Queen Bey train. Okay, so maybe more than a little late. Her most recent self-titled visual album is the first one I’ve ever listened to from start to finish. And I’m so glad that I did. With the recent media frenzy over the “respectability” of young pop icons (hello, Miley), I’ve been thinking a lot about powerful female icons that I’d be happy to see my future children idolize. Continue Reading →

Understanding “White Feminism”

Depending on how much of the online discussion about feminism you follow, you might’ve run across the term “white feminism.” Batty Mamzelle gives a great description of the term here, explaining that it doesn’t just describe feminists who happen to be white. Rather, it’s “a specific set of single-issue, non-intersectional, superficial feminist practices…that doesn’t consider race as a factor in the struggle for equality.” The post also suggests that when white feminists feel affronted by the term, and want to enter discussions saying “please recognize that I’m not like those other white feminists,” they should remember what it feels like to try to discuss feminism with men who say, “but I’m not one of those men who benefits from male privilege.” It’s totally frustrating to have someone miss the point of a systemic critique of oppression, right? Continue Reading →

Let’s List How Feminism Hurts Men

I’m a fan of satirical role reversals in rhetoric, as with this list of how to end sexual assault by limiting men’s freedom. Now there’s a list of all the ways in which feminism hurts men. We see examples like “Because of feminism, all birth control is covered for women without question or debate, while men have to fight to get insurance companies to pay for their Viagra prescriptions” and “Because of feminism, it’s hard to find a movie with a heroic male lead anymore.” It really makes you think, doesn’t it? Since all of the examples are so obviously exaggerated… Continue Reading →

Media Misrepresentation – Where Are The Boys?

I recently introduced the 2011 documentary Miss Representation to the 12th grade Health and Wellness class I teach. The film touches upon (well, hammers, really) some themes that are near and dear to my young feminist heart: objectification, media representation, gender stereotypes, and the like. As I expected, they ate it up. Each new disturbing infographic that flashed over the screen garnered a heavier sigh, a snarkier chortle. And with good reason. Continue Reading →

Why To Keep Using The Word “Feminism”

We’ve all run into someone who says things like, “Yeah, I agree with a lot of feminism, I just don’t like calling myself a feminist because [XYZ].” One common reason given is that feminism is (supposedly) just about improving women’s living conditions, while the speaker considers him/herself a humanist, someone who wants to raise all of humanity. Which is a nice idea, but there are, in fact, specific reasons to describe oneself as a feminist. And no, they do not include hating men. The brilliant blogger Spacefem describes her reasons for doing so in a blog post here. Continue Reading →

Straw Feminists: Do Feminists Really Hate Men?

The stereotype of the man-hating feminist is quite pervasive in contemporary American culture, as exemplified in this brilliant cartoon, Straw Feminists. But do feminists really hate men? How can we find out? Turns out that empirical research will go a long way toward dispelling such stereotypes. A study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly [pdf] reported on college students’ attitudes toward men, as measured with the Ambivalence toward Men Inventory (AMI). Continue Reading →

Nature, Nurture, And Vaginas

One of my favorite questions to explore since I took a psychology class in high school has been the relationship of nature and nurture, or biology and culture. How much of human behavior is determined by relatively fixed factors like our genes and hormones, and how much is shaped by environment, family, diet, and culture? These intersections are tricky and difficult to navigate, yet teasing out distinctions has been a key project of sexuality scholars and feminists for decades now (to cite but one example, in the Victorian era it was believed that women’s wombs would wander, causing distress and dumbness, and so women’s bodies were held against them as a reason they couldn’t be educated, own property, or participate in politics – which, today, is known to be obviously untrue). While I’ve not yet had a chance to read feminist Naomi Wolf’s controversial new book Vagina, I’d like to use its premise as a leaping-off point for discussing how complicated the nature-nurture relationship can get when you throw in sexuality and history (both personal and cultural). As Wolf describes her project in an interview, she “stumbled upon hugely important scientific discovery after hugely important scientific discovery,” proving what she called a “profound brain-vagina connection.” Drawing from scientific studies as well as her own sex life, the book’s premise seems to be that women’s sex lives are unfulfilling in large part because women’s biology (specifically regarding sex and vaginas) is so misunderstood. Continue Reading →