March 14th, 2009
|12:22 am - The Lecture of Awesome|
I meant to be posting this earlier, like the night that it happened, but well that didn't happen. Instead, here I am 11 days later...
I caught the Jessica Valenti: Feminism Still Matters lecture last Monday.
I didn't get a chance (was left off the RSVP list even though my name was definitely on the list of interested parties from the FMLA) for one reason or another to go to the dinner before hand. I'm going to assume snafu instead of malice, though knowing the personalities involved, it could easily go either way. More of why I dislike strongly hierarchal activism.
I actually arrived to an event early. I know, I'm shocked. At the last minute I moved up to the front rows. There were lap desks in the first few rows, though no access to an outlet (or this would have been posted that evening.) Well, there was the power strip that the projector was plugged into, but um, no. Not going to be the one to Fu that particular bar.
It turns out that Jessica is not 2.5 meters tall in real life. Nor does she bend steel plating with her teeth. Alas for the shattering of illusions. She still has the moral stature to support them though.
Ugh. The desks are right handed. Frack.
The WSA provides her with bottled water. There is a rant here about the essential connection between environmental causes and feminist causes and the tendency for the proponents of the second to ignore the first, but it isn't actually here .
She is 30 years old. I hate that the heroes of the current memespace are my age now. Completely underlines my lack of doing-thingsness.
She brings up one of my major issues: Most women are feminists, even if they don't know it, or deny it. A Lot of women are still too freaked out by the word to embrace it. (Frex, if you are reading this via my friends list, you are most likely a feminist. No matter how much you dislike labels. LLAD,QLAD,PAD)
From the viewpoint of the anti-feminists, telling women that feminists are all shrill man hating sexless sluts who are all super activisty bitches is both smart and tactical. If you can control the conversation, you can convince otherwise core feminists that feminism isn't for them at all since they aren't activists or they aren't man haters, or they aren't sexless, or they aren't sluts. Control the terms of the conversation and you can get people who should be your opponents' strongest supporters to do your work for you.
A discussion of the cyclical media claims that "Feminism is dead." If that were so, there would be a lot fewer people with a vested interest of maintaining the current social structure as it is trying to kill feminism.
Jessica is hella funny. "Yeah, I guess if I don't like rape tee shirts, I'm a bitch."
One thing that feminists need to do is start shaping the conversation. The blackhats have managed to define the terms so far, but if we can manage to tell the truth about feminism often enough, we can get young women to embrace the identifier.
About the current political culture.
Now that we have a supportive administration, one that isn't actively trying to regress women's rights and self determination, it is time. to address the underlying belief systems and cultural baggage that reinforce anti-feminist sentiment.
We need to combat moral panic over women's sexuality. She mentioned a FDA memo that sounded like it came out of a Dark Dungeons style tract, warning of the potential for plan b based sex cults.
Jessica's next book is called The Purity Myth. It is about the cultural construct of virginity, the fact that "It is time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people is dependent on being good people, not on their sexuality." She reminds us that when women are taught about morality, they aren't taught that the important issues are things like courage or compassion, but the state of their hymens, that their ability to be ethical actors is primarily an aspect of their bodies instead of their actions. "Our daughters deserve a model of morality based on ethics, not their bodies."
When we got to the Q&A, we had some of the best questions. She got the mudflap girl/bare midriff picture question. I knew that she recieved that question, but I didn't really expect to hear it in real life, even at the lecture.
There was an awesomely long academic activist loaded wording question about women wearing things that cover their tits (while avoiding actually saying anything about what is being covered.) It was all dominant masculine paradigms and shit, with full out prefered answers coded into the question. Buddy boy had to read it off of a sheet of paper.
Should we pick a new word for feminism? "No!"
(I will eventually write my "No!" post.)
Abstinence and etcetra are fine but not moreally superior positions. Well handled, though the answer deserved more time than the format allowed.
She made another majorly important point. Opposition to women's reproductive rights is not structured around protecting life, it is structured around punishing women for their self determination/sexuality.
All in all the lecture was awesome, and I left with a signed copy of Full Frontal Feminism, my absolutely favorite primer on feminism, even if it happens to be aimed at women instead of a general audience (meaning specifically men and women.) (The kid who asked about that steped on his cod hard in his question. When I was his age, I would have too.)
I was going to go to this but had a midterm. Did you text me, saying I should go? Because I had a text from someone about it and no name in my phonebook to go with the number. I figured it could be you. Yes?
Okay, text me again and I'll add your name.