In the sense that ‘men’ just means the 50.2% of humans who have been identified as male*, I can’t claim to hate them all. I like a lot of them. They’re some of my favourite people. And I certainly don’t hate men for being misguided, poorly informed, or for being constrained by the same cultural constructions of gender as I am. However, I have a big problem with maleness—the cultural construction of it, the representations of it, and the way that ‘men’ and ‘women’ internalise particular ideas of gender behaviour based on inequitable cultural models. Continue reading →
In Part 1 I talked about my experience teaching feminism to my 2nd year creative writing theory class. As often happens, in preparing for the lecture I came across Clem Ford’s article ‘Why Women’s Still Can’t Enjoy Sex’ and immediately wanted to walk into the lecture room, read the article aloud to the class, and then walk straight back out. Although technically that wouldn’t cover the material on the weekly reading list, I felt and still feel that Ford said everything I wanted to say, better, more clearly, and publicly, without a hint of apology or shame.
I posted a link to Ford’s article on the online site for this class, and the class tutor used it during discussions in both of the tutorials. I’ll use it again when I teach literary feminism to a different class later this semester. I linked it on Tumblr. I linked it on FaceBook. So did a lot of other Australian women. Now, a week later, I’m still angry. I’m also angry that a transgender Canadian woman has been disqualified from the Miss Canada pageant. I’m angry that there are people out there who object to the casting of African-American actors to play Rue and Thresh in the Hunger Games movie. I have a lot of anger to direct towards the many and varied examples of contemporary Western society perpetuating the same mistakes about gender and race that we’ve been fighting for so long, towards the ignorance of large numbers of people within this society, and particularly towards the carelessness of people who actually claim to give a damn about these issues. Continue reading →
I know that, in the past fortnight, a lot of people have read Clementine Ford’s article at dailylife.com.au about the cultural sanctions on women’s sexual and reproductive freedom. The commentary about that article, along with other discussions centring on recent, primarily American, attacks on women’s reproductive rights, is proof enough that this is an area that deserves further cultural examination—one that shouldn’t be hidden or silenced.
This article was significant to me not only for its position on feminism, but also because it came less than a week after I taught a class of 2nd-year creative writing students about patriarchy. I told the class what Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar meant by the Angel in the House and the monstrous feminine. I told them that Gilbert and Gubar were writing specifically about literary representations of women in the nineteenth century. I told them about the selflessness of the angel. I told them about the demonization of women’s sexual behaviour. I used examples from James Bond: Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye. I told them about Laura Mulvey and the theory of the male gaze and how the advent of moving pictures resulted in a certain kind of psychoanalytic approach to film theory to try to account for how exactly filmic images of women serve to objectify them sexually. Continue reading →