This morning I logged on to FaceBook to do some mindless meandering before reading some real stuff. I was numbly perusing postings about the weather (rain, again?) and someone’s cute kid doing something amazingly cute, when I saw an article from NME magazine that made me almost spit my coffee all over my computer. It was an interview with Lily Allen (British pop singer) titled “Lily Allen: Feminism shouldn’t even be a thing anymore”. What the….??? Now, Allen likes to fan the flames, push the buttons and stir the pot. She’s into the shameless hype schtick and that’s all fine and well, but I think that Allen needs a crash course in pulling one’s head out of one’s arse and maybe a little Feminism 101.
In the interview she states that everyone is “equal” in the modern world. Whew. That’s really good news. I am actually relieved to hear that. I mean, I actually agree. We are all equal. Problem is, people- sometimes the government, sometimes the military, sometimes the judicial system- don’t always adhere to that simple premise.
A few cases in point. This week a Massachusetts judge ruled that “Upskirting” was not illegal. So, if you would like to take a picture or videotape a woman’s nether regions without her consent or knowledge, go right ahead. Heck, it’s a fair assumption that if you can figure out a way to get a camera down her shirt that would be ok too!
Also this week, our Senate in the U.S. blocked a vote that would overhaul the procedures for prosecuting sexual assaults in the military. Right now the system isn’t working. According to the Pentagon, last year soldiers were 15 times more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by the enemy.
The current system forces the victims to report assaults to their commanders. The problem is that the commanders often know both the victim and the accused. In some cases, the commander is the accused. Add to that the Department of Labor’s statistics that 62% of victims who reported a sexual assault were retaliated against.
An Army General just this week pled guilty to sexual assault.
A Brig. General pled guilty to inappropriate relationships with two female Army officers and is being investigated for forcing another to have oral sex and threatening her family.
And the Army’s top sex crimes prosecutor is being investigated for allegedly groping a female lawyer at a sexual assault conference.
So you can see the problem with victims reporting these assaults when the very people at the highest ranks are sometimes guilty of the thing they are supposed to be investigating.
But our Senate chose to block a vote.
Not vote it down.
There was majority support for this bill. But they blocked the vote from even happening.
One has to wonder if it was primarily men being raped by other men, would this vote have been blocked? One has to wonder if there would be a bigger sense of urgency on the issue? Meanwhile women in the military are left to fend for themselves in an incestuous system that is clearly not serving their needs well.
Allen offers the theory that women are the problem because we are inherently envious and judgmental of each other. Yes, that is a problem. We need to build each other up, not knock each other down. But it is not The problem.
The problem is that women are still viewed as commodities. As less than. Even in the Western world. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years.
The problem is a society, of which we all are a part, that doesn’t tackle misogyny. That objectifies women. A problem this big doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The men that perpetrate these crimes seem to have the view that women are there for their use and disposal. And too many times our judicial system doesn’t see fit to investigate or prosecute these crimes.
Then there’s this piece of sage wisdom from Ms. Allen:
Feminism. I hate that word because it shouldn’t even be a thing anymore,” she said. “We’re all equal, everyone is equal. Why is there even a conversation about feminism? What’s the man version of feminism? There isn’t even a word for it. Menanism. Male-ism. It doesn’t exist.
You hate that word, Ms. Allen, because you don’t understand it’s meaning.
You have willfully and blindly gone the way of the sheep and bought into the misinformation and propaganda that has been slowly oozing it’s way through our culture over the last few decades. Like a bad smell, this has been wafting around enough that you don’t even notice it anymore or realize it’s noxious nature.
Feminism isn’t some foul thing that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
That would be the bitter taste of lies and obfuscation.
Feminism is the basic fight for equal rights for women.
Equal pay for equal work.
The right to vote.
The right to join the military and not be raped.
The right to not have your body exposed and recorded by some creep with a cell phone.
The right to go to college and not be sexually assaulted.
Basic human rights of decency.
And here’s another thought, Ms. Allen.
While you’re sitting in your comfy home enjoying the life of a woman of privilege, please remember that feminism is not only a Western construct. To assume that Feminism is no longer a “thing” because we have the right to vote, we hold political office, etc…. well, that’s just ignoring about half of the world isn’t it?
There are women around the world who are fighting to not be stoned to death for having sex out of wedlock.
There are women fighting for the right to drive.
There are women fighting to stop the heinous act of female circumcision.
There are women fighting for their lives, to not be a piece of property under the law.
The fight for basic human rights is still going on in too many parts of the world.
And any time you or any other woman who is riding high because of the very cause that you demean, you are diminishing the battles these women are still fighting.
We’ve come quite far in the west, but don’t be fooled into thinking that we’re done fighting here. I know what world I want my daughters to grow up in. And it’s not a world that gives them a 20% chance of being raped in college. It’s not a world in which a woman who’s been raped is shamed and told that she’d be better off just letting it go.
And it’s certainly not a world in which we turn a blind eye to the injustices happening to our sisters around the world.
If you don’t want to listen to me, then please hear this from a truly wise and brilliant woman. Amy Poehler was asked in an interview with Elle magazine, about being a feminist and about feminist deniers. She said this:
But I don’t get it. That’s like someone being like, “I don’t really believe in cars, but I drive one every day and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.
In her succinct and magnificent way, she’s telling you, Ms. Allen, that you are driving the very car that you love, that gets you where you need to go. But at the same time you don’t believe in it. And in your case, maybe you’re confused about what it is. But trust me, you’re driving a car that wasn’t built by Detroit, you’re rolling through life on wheels that are powered by an engine that wouldn’t be possible without feminists.
So, please reconsider Ms. Allen.
Consider the victims fighting for justice in an ambiguous system.
Consider that feminism is not an issue just for the modern world.
Consider why there is no male version of feminism.
Take a minute and ponder that.
You may, without even realizing it, see that you made your own case for feminism.