25 Reasons Why I Am A Feminist

by cacophonies

There was a meme floating around Facebook for a while titled “25 random things about me,” or something to that effect. My friend Erin participated, but changed it to “25 reasons why I am a feminist.” (You can find Erin’s list here, if she allows non-friends to view her notes, which I’m not sure about.)

I decided to do the same thing. Here’s my list (note that I wrote this a few months ago, so some reasons referenced current events that are no longer so current):

1. The craze over Natalie Dylan’s virginity auction. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about how that looks, about her reasons, or about the whole idea in the first place, but that’s part of the problem. It’s not my place, or anyone else’s place, to decide what another woman should or should not do with her body or sexuality. It’s hers, period. This is clearly a choice, not coersion or desperation, and therefore it should be allowed to happen without scrutiny from people not involved.

2. Men who cite “but I’m expected to be manly and make a lot of money and never show emotions” as a reason why they think that feminism is invalid, useless, or that men are “more oppressed.” It’s not because our society is oppressing men, but because the things men “aren’t allowed” to do is show any sign of weakness or other stereotypical feminine quality. Because femininity is not valued in our society and masculinity is. That’s institutionalized misogyny.

3. We are all held to rigid and unachievable gender expectations. This will continue to happen as long as we don’t acknowledge feminism (aka, as long as we continue to act as though females are inferior to males– even if we don’t say it out loud).

4. Any time I go to get a haircut and tell the stylist how short I want it, they ask if I’m sure, over and over.

5. There are still people who think that my potential fetus is more valuable and important than I am.

6. I get letters at work every day from customers who address them “Dear Sir(s).”

7. People think that a good insult for a woman they don’t like is to call her a “cunt” — a name referencing her genitalia. As though we should be insulted by a reference to it.

8. I’m marketed to EVERYWHERE by companies owned by men that sell products to get rid of any natural vaginal odor I might have, cream that will rid me of any sign that I’m over the age of 21, that promises I will get rid of stretch marks from childbirth, “mommy surgery” to rid my body of any signs I’ve given birth and bewilderingly, to change the shape of my labia to match those of airbrushed, surgically-enhanced centerfold models. Similar products are not marketed to men in any similar frequency or abundance on mass media (not including email spam about penis enlarging that even I’ve gotten). And if they were, we should STILL be concerned, but that’s another issue.

9. Many men, most of whom don’t even realize they’re doing it, will all but completely ignore my presence in, potential interest in, or ability to contribute to, a conversation that starts with him, me and another male about politics, science, music, or anything else that requires any level of critical thinking or opinion-giving. I may have contributed to the beginning of a conversation, sparked a conversation thread, but it will consistently end up being the males that make eye contact with each other and finish the conversation. I stop being included once my token contribution time has expired.

10. When I was a kid and into my teens and twenties, when I would walk to work along a busy road, I would be cat-called, whistled at or yelled obscene phrases to, regardless of how I was dressed, what I was wearing, whether I was even paying attention to the cars on the road. It’s only less frequent now because I work with my male significant other, and when I’m walking around downtown before or after work, it’s generally with him. Men won’t hit on me now because they see a man with me, which indicates that I am someone else’s “property,” an idea that they are willing to understand and respect over someone being their own person, instead of someone else’s property.

11. Any time I sign on to MySpace, Facebook or LiveJournal, I see advertisements for new diets, how to lost 25 pounds in 10 seconds or something, and even one banner with a before-and-after picture asking me, “Are you 25 and overweight?” My boyfriend primarily sees either ads for electronics, or ads on how to meet hot, single women.

12. Pixie waifs as the new trendy way to look if you’re a female, because long-haired waifs are SO last season. Not because there’s anything wrong with someone who would fit into the category of “waif,” but because only showing that one image of beauty is only reinforcing the idea that we are only valuable if very thin.

13. When I go to Target to buy deodorant withOUT antiperspirant, I have a choice of 3 over-priced and stinky “all-natural” scents, from one brand. When my boyfriend goes there for non-anti-perspirant deodorant, he has the same options I have (they’re unisex) PLUS an additional variety of non-anti-perspirant in all the major, recognized brands.

14. When I was in high school, my friends and I were being picked up after school by a male friend of ours who had long hair that he wore in a ponytail. When he drove up to the front of the school, a group of guys talked about the chick driving the nice car and, upon realizing it was a male behind the wheel, proceeded to make fun of him and laugh at how “girly” he looked, just for having long hair.

15. When I worked at the Geek Squad and would answer the phone “Brooklyn Center Geek Squad, how can I help you?” I would often hear a long pause, then, “Uh yeah, can you transfer me to the Geek Squad, please?” This did not happen to other departments located in the same Best Buy we were in, who were each also given a “for (blank) department, press (numbers)” option like we were, and who did NOT say the name of their department in their telephone greeting. I know this because I worked in other departments before transferring to the Geek Squad. This also did not happen to the rest of the (male) Geek Squad employees.

16. Because transgender people who transition from male to female are routinely made the butt of jokes, even on prime time television, and routinely abused, murdered, or driven to sex work because of their MTF status. They are overly sexualized the same way (if not more derogatory) as non-trans women while simultaneously being ostracized for giving up their inherent male privelege and social status– not to mention their PENISES, OMG, while transgender individuals who transition from female to male are hardly even mentioned at all. This is not only because they tend to “pass” more eaily as the desired sex (because we rely primarily on masculine cues to help us distinguish between genders in others), but because it seems more accepted, even expected, to want to trade in womanhood for manhood, femininity for masculinity.

17. Because I can’t just bleed on my damn kitchen floor.

18. Because if I wanted to spend my entire paycheck on a bra for some reason, Victoria’s Secret’s sizing is as follows: For underwear, take whatever size you’ve worn your entire adult life and purchase the one 4 sizes below it. This is to make you feel like your butt is smaller, because we’re all concerned about that, right? Then take your bra size and add 4 inches and at least one cup size, so you feel like your boobs are bigger. Obviously, we all want giant boobs. Or, you can just do like I did and live with too-big underwear and a too-small bra because you don’t want to return to the store for a 3rd time to exchange the bra you should have just tried on at the store but didn’t think you needed to since you’ve worn the same bra size for 7 years… and returning underwear is gross and probably not allowed, anyway.

19. The fact that someone adjusted the way women’s clothing is sized so much that they had to create a size zero

20. If I actually had any desire to try to be in the modeling industry, I would need to lose at least 20lbs to be considered “normal” weight for my height (not that I’m tall enough to be a runway model, anyway, but proportionally-speaking). The only person/entity who would consider me to be overweight would be that particular industry.

21. On some level, that actually bothers me, and it wouldn’t if unrealistic and unachievable expectations weren’t placed on women and their physical appearance

22. When I’m a mother, whether I stay home or go back to work right away, someone will be pissed off. If imnotme went back to work, no one would bat an eyelash, and if he stayed home, he would be praised for being such a wonderful daddy.

23. Because some people think that just because we can wear pants to work and vote, we’re equal and now we’re just complaining too much.

24. Valid emotions and feelings are brushed off as PMS, menopause, pregnancy, or just “girly melodrama.”

25. Because a lot of people, both women and men, haven’t even considered many of these things at all.

Anyone have anything to add?

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22 responses to “25 Reasons Why I Am A Feminist

  1. Great compilation! Very thoughtfully composed. I don’t have anything to add at this time.

  2. We are all held to rigid and unachievable gender expectations. This will continue to happen as long as we don’t acknowledge feminism …

    I sort of agree and sort of disagree, cacophonies. For myself, I would put it this way:

    We are all held to rigid and unachievable gender expectations. This will continue to happen as long as we don’t acknowledge egalitarian feminism.

    To me, that’s an essential qualifier, because mainstream feminism is generally gynocentric feminism which distorts or dismisses the very real ways gender oppresses men.

    Unfortunately, your reason #2 is an example of this:

    2. Men who cite “but I’m expected to be manly and make a lot of money and never show emotions” as a reason why they think that feminism is invalid, useless, or that men are “more oppressed.” It’s not because our society is oppressing men, but because the things men “aren’t allowed” to do is show any sign of weakness or other stereotypical feminine quality. Because feminity is not valued in our society and masculinity is. That’s misogyny.

    Through rhetorical finesse, the very real ways males are oppressed by gender — the bullying, the indifference to male suffering, the touting of unrealistic levels of achievement as thresholds for being considered a ‘worthy’ human being — are magically transformed into ‘misogyny’ and thus become ‘really’ the oppression of women. As a male, I see this quite differently. Women, to a far greater extent than men, are permitted to be more vulnerable and more authentically human than men. Both men and women enforce this.

    Now, if this reality is used by some men to entirely dismiss the whole of feminism, I would agree with you. But I suspect that in many cases, men who cite this reality are really criticizing the one-sided analysis that underlies all too much of what appears to be mainstream feminism.

    • You make some really good points. I read the list of female privilege that you linked to, and would actually like to make a new post with that as the center. It would be easier to tie that list and mine together in a new post.

      I think I’ll stop from commenting too much in response to what you said, in order to save it for a later post. I wouldn’t normally do this, but your comment has me thinking.

    • This will continue to happen as long as we don’t acknowledge egalitarian feminism.

      I’m glad you made the distinction.

  3. I too am unconvinced by this:

    2. Men who cite “but I’m expected to be manly and make a lot of money and never show emotions” as a reason why they think that feminism is invalid, useless, or that men are “more oppressed.” It’s not because our society is oppressing men, but because the things men “aren’t allowed” to do is show any sign of weakness or other stereotypical feminine quality. Because feminity is not valued in our society and masculinity is. That’s misogyny.

    The idea that femininity is not valued in society would appear to be contradicted by its inclination to pay attention to, and rescue endangered or victimised women in preference to men in equal or even greater danger or need. this post gives several examples of this phenomenon.

    To the contrary it is men that society doesn’t value. This is misandry, not misogyny, and to cast it as the latter is an attempt to frame away the gender-oppression of men.

    One doesn’t need to argue that men are more oppressed in order to object to feminism. That men are oppressed at all on the axis of gender is denied by most mainstream feminists.

    • To the contrary it is men that society doesn’t value. This is misandry, not misogyny, and to cast it as the latter is an attempt to frame away the gender-oppression of men.

      Two things:

      1. You’ve given several cited examples of misandry in earlier comments on this blog, and I don’t disagree with you about the magnitude of those stories/laws/views/etc. However, we’re not talking about misandry; we’re talking about how misogyny creates situations where men are discriminated against, or held to unreasonable standards, when they wouldn’t be otherwise.

      2. Feminism does, for the most part, focus solely on the oppression of women. Note the descriptor “FEMINism.” It’s not a bad thing for women to attempt to band together to try and stop the oppression of women, and to claim that it is bad that they’re not all also focusing on every other kind of oppression they can think of is expecting a bit too much.

      • You borked the blockquote in the above.

        1. You’ve given several cited examples of misandry in earlier comments on this blog, and I don’t disagree with you about the magnitude of those stories/laws/views/etc. However, we’re not talking about misandry; we’re talking about how misogyny creates situations where men are discriminated against, or held to unreasonable standards, when they wouldn’t be otherwise.

        I don’t agree that it’s misogyny which creates these situations. I don’t agree with your claim that “femininity is not valued in our society and masculinity is”. The post I linked to gave several examples of the low value society puts on maleness. I could give many others.

        Society demands gender-conformance from both men and women. One could argue that its misogynist to hold women to standards they cannot meet, and misandrist to do the same to men, but it is prejudicial and dismissive to call the latter “misogyny”.

        2. Feminism does, for the most part, focus solely on the oppression of women. Note the descriptor “FEMINism.” It’s not a bad thing for women to attempt to band together to try and stop the oppression of women, and to claim that it is bad that they’re not all also focusing on every other kind of oppression they can think of is expecting a bit too much.

        Feminism denies and contributes to the gender-oppression of men, by painting a false picture of how gender operates in society, by promulgating negative stereotypes about men, and by encouraging discrimination against men.

        This is not to deny that feminism does good things, such as many of the things you mentioned in your post and comments.

      • 2. Feminism does, for the most part, focus solely on the oppression of women. Note the descriptor “FEMINism.” It’s not a bad thing for women to attempt to band together to try and stop the oppression of women, and to claim that it is bad that they’re not all also focusing on every other kind of oppression they can think of is expecting a bit too much.

        I personally (not sure about the feelings of the Daran and ballgame here) don’t expect feminists to actively focus on the gender issues that men have to deal with. However many a feminist tends to disavow the suffering of men like it were a captured spy. There is a big difference between “We’re not talking about that.” and “That doesn’t happen.” When it comes to men’s issues feminists like to pass the latter off as the former.

        • There is a big difference between “We’re not talking about that.” and “That doesn’t happen.” When it comes to men’s issues feminists like to pass the latter off as the former.

          Feminists who perpetuate the idea that men are not also oppressed or hurt by current social and government structures are not doing their/our cause any favors.

          In my experience (on the blogosphere, anyway) is that feminists get angry when men barge into a feminist space to complain about problems that they have. That’s valid. What’s also valid is that a great lot of feminists don’t give any real thought to things that they do and say to/about men, because they don’t think they’re to be held responsible for those things, as they are, relative to men, an oppressed class. I don’t think this is fair or correct. It’s a part of the reason I wanted to create this blog, as an alternative to the others that continue perpetuating that idea.

  4. While there is plenty of validity and things I had never even considered there are a few things on this list that don’t fully ring true.

    2. …that men are “more oppressed.”

    While there people who get into arguments over who is oppressed more I find that the claim that the men say they are more oppressed is a smokescreen used by anti-MRA types that just want a quick way to dismiss them.

    8. …Similar products are not marketed to men in any similar frequency or abundance on mass media (not including email spam about penis enlarging that even I’ve gotten).

    Its only one example mind you but I would like to point out the way Axe advertises its body products to teenage guys by way of drawing similarities between them and pigs in order to get them clean. And what is the motivation those ads use? Getting the attention of women. Not just a generic lesson about hygiene but to get a girl. (And I’m curious as to why you conveniently ignore those penis enlarging spams and the tv ads that have increased in frequency lately.)

    11. …My boyfriend primarily sees either ads for electronics, or ads on how to meet hot, single women.

    You say that like assuming he is into tech stuff and is looking for hot single women is a good thing.

    22. …If imnotme went back to work, no one would bat an eyelash, and if he stayed home, he would be praised for being such a wonderful daddy.

    Not always so. Bear in mind no is batting at eye at him going back to work because he is supposed to go back to work. And the people that would praise him for being a stay at home (the few that wouldn’t call him a lazy good for nothing for not going to work like he is supposed to are doing so because they are very likely starting with the base assumption, which would be based on his gender, that he is a screw up at parenting. Oh and then there is the occasional person that would see him along with a child and possibly assume that he is trying to molest the child.

    But like I said there is plenty of validity (like 5, 15, and 24) and things that had not crossed my mind (like 6, 12, and 14) so keep on keeping on.

    • (And I’m curious as to why you conveniently ignore those penis enlarging spams and the tv ads that have increased in frequency lately.)

      The only reason I didn’t get further into it was because it was a hurried and short list of why I’m a feminist, and an extra page of blogging would have been inappropriate for the context, and

      2. Simply put, the penis-enlarging thing is the only mass-marketed thing that is marketed solely to men that could be considered as problematic as the tons of others marketed solely at women. It’s just as bad, but there’s that, plus a whole much more, directed at women. It’s more often, and therefore more ingrained and less ignorable.

    • Bear in mind no is batting at eye at him going back to work because he is supposed to go back to work. And the people that would praise him for being a stay at home (the few that wouldn’t call him a lazy good for nothing for not going to work like he is supposed to are doing so because they are very likely starting with the base assumption, which would be based on his gender, that he is a screw up at parenting. Oh and then there is the occasional person that would see him along with a child and possibly assume that he is trying to molest the child.

      What I was getting at, though, is that no matter what I’d decide, there’d be someone who was mad at me for doing it. No one would think badly of imnotme regardless of his choice. I have to decide which opinion I can live with more, or whether or not I care about others’ opinions. imnotme would simply do as he (and we) chose, without any negative repercussions.

      • No one would think badly of imnotme regardless of his choice.

        I don’t believe that.

      • I agree with the situation that you are in but he would also have a situation as well.

        If he goes back to work will think he…
        …is doing what he is supposed to do.
        or
        …is perpetuating the patriarchy by forcing the child rearing on the mother while he chooses to go out into the world and thus creating an insignificant relationship with the children, if at all.

        If he becomes a stay at home dad they will think he…
        …is not doing what he is supposed to do. “How dare a man sit at home with the children while the woman works outside the home.”
        or
        …is hurting the children by either being an incompetent parent (via the stereotype that dads are the inferior parent) or via abuse.

        • He does have a situation, it’s true. There’s no way he couldn’t. But no one, in vast numbers, would be mad at him for either choice, or declare either choice to be wrong.

          …That said, of course there’s the possibility for negative repercussions in any situation. But it happens in a much greater frequency with mothers than with fathers.

    • You say that like assuming he is into tech stuff and is looking for hot single women is a good thing.

      I didn’t mean for that to come across that way. What I was really trying to address is the fact that the things that I, as a woman, am advertised, are ways to fix my body, because it’s widely assumed that my worth is based on my looks, and a man’s is based on his intellect (or any number of other things; he has many more options).

      Of course, making assumptions based on gender are bad, even if they are effective marketing tools. It also only perpetuates negative stereotypes for both sexes.

  5. “7. People think that a good insult for a woman they don’t like is to call her a “cunt” — a name referencing her vagina. As though we should be insulted by a reference to it.”

    -I get called a dick.

    • I try to avoid using any references to genitalia when I feel the need to find a good insulting name for someone. I think “asshole” is a good one, no? They’re not specific to any gender or group of people 😉

      • …Also, “cunt” is nearly on the same page as the n-word to some women (and even some men). “Dick” is much more acceptable, socially. Not that I think that makes it any better, or that we should use the word as an “acceptable” insult; all are troublesome when they reference someone’s gender (or something that implies one’s gender) in an insulting or derogatory context.

  6. …because I love and believe in all the women in my life, especially my mother. Ok, well most of them anyway.

    As to gender archtypes affecting men. I like flowers, often cry at sad moments in movies, and like to cuddle… and I don’t really advertise these things to avoid grief. Hell, in the wrong place it might even get me assaulted. However, there is still a fine distinction here… I am being judged for not conforming to an archtype. Misogyny is prejudice based on genetalia. You can not vote because you have a vagina.

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