Monday, August 2, 2010

Can I Be An Appendage to a Man but Still Call Myself a Feminist?

It is a testimony to the prestige of feminism that ultra-traditionalist advocates of patriarchy and male dominance would want to claim the title of feminists. It is also hugely offensive to women who, for centuries, struggled to overturn the status quo, often at a huge personal cost. At the same time, having anti-women politicians like Sarah Palin claim to be feminists dilutes the message of feminism. Today, when everybody feels free to insist they are feminist, irrespective of how anti-women and patrairchal they actually are, it becomes exceedingly difficult to preserve the meaning of feminism. My personal fear is that one day I will tell my students I'm a feminist, and they will respond: "Oh, so you support Sarah Palin!"

Recently, there has been a flurry of posts on quasi-feminist websites that defend the "right" of women to debase themselves to please men and still consider themselves feminists. Here is one recent example:
Because he has started his third year in medical school on a surgery rotation. That means he gets up at 4am to go to the hospital and comes back home anytime between 7pm-8pm. Not counting every fourth night where he is on call at the hospital all night. He also has to study in the very little free time he has. Compared to my own schedule, I work Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm. Therefore, I’m the one doing the household duties around the house–cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. Don’t get me wrong–my significant other is probably a better cook than I am (though I’m the better baker), and in [most situations] is cleaner than I am. But he just doesn’t have time for those household chores. So I don’t do those chores for him; I do it for us. Another thing: we recently got engaged. He gave me a gorgeous ring which I love. Yes I know what the feminist implications of wearing an engagement ring. For me, though, I am reminded of our love and relationship every time I look at the ring. . . I will probably take his last name so that our family will all have the same last name.
Believe me, I'm the last person to dispute this woman's "right" to sell her identity for a big, shiny bauble. If she wants to dedicate her life to servicing the all-important needs of a man, who's to prevent her from doing it? If she chooses to be reminded of his "love" by an expensive object rather than by his daily efforts to do his own dishes, clean his own space, and cook his own food, that's her inalienable right. If she wants to become a man's servant and his appendage who does not even deserve her own name, so be it. Hell, she can lick his boots clean every time he comes through the door, for all I care.

What I find so appalling is not that these Palin lookalikes turn themselves into willing domestic slaves of men and spit on every single thing feminism has gained for us. What angers me is that while doing so, while perpetuating the image of women as secondary to men, they dare claim for themselves the name of valiant women who dedicated their lives to earning the right of women to be recognized as fully human.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is like a Marxist defending his "right" to own a factory.

Clarissa said...

Believe it or not, I actually used to know one. :-)

Kristina said...

Maybe I'm not enlightened enough to understand this (or something...) but isn't the whole point of feminism the idea of allowing women to choose what is best for them? I've read that entire blog post and I don't see anyone telling you how to live your life, whether you should wear an engagement ring or cook for a man, so why does it bother you so much that she chooses that for herself?

Posts like this are the reason so many people are turned off by feminism. Like your life as you want, I'll live mine, and she can live hers. What's wrong with that?

Nati said...

You are spot on, Clarissa! I'm 100% with you on this one.

Clarissa said...

How many times do I need to repeat that I'm not bothered by this woman's choice to debase herself as much as she wishes? I just don't want her to debase me as well by claiming that her choices have anything to do with feminism.

Clarissa said...

Between me and Sarah Palin, I think that if people get turned off feminism, Palin will be more to blame for that.

nico said...

Sure you have the right to choose what you consider is best for you, but it doesn't strike me as very feminist to take on a traditional gender role. Why call it feminism?

Criss L. Cox said...

"spit on every single thing feminism has gained for us"

You and I must have a different definition of feminism. I thought the movement was about women breaking free of the roles imposed on them by outside parties, and pursuing their own happiness instead of someone else's.

What is your definition?

I'm one of those married feminists. Now, my husband is the one who usually does the dishes (his and mine) and the cooking (his and mine), even though I'm the one with picky dietary needs (I'm a vegetarian, he's not). But I earn more than he does, so he's "a kept man," by the archaic definitions you seem to value of marriage.

Oh, I'm also having his child. Well, I see it as our child, because I want this kid, too, but if I'm using my body to give birth to something spawned from male semen (and a female ovum, though I bet you find that part irrelevant), am I a "Palin feminist"?

Oh, I took his last name, too. Because when you teach high school, "Cox" is not the best last name to have. His last name is way cooler-sounding than "Cox" (and less infantiley-obscene). And I always hated how my last name (Cox) was shorter than my first name (Cristina). I HATED that as a kid, still not over it as an adult.

Anyway, just checking -- am I allowed to call myself a feminist? Or did I lose that right when I got married, just because I wore a big dress when I did so?

Do my choices in life, my actions, my activism... does any of that come into play when we're assigning feminist cookies?

Or are my marital status and last name the only important bits?

(Don't we have bigger fish to fry than last names? Women are bullied into unwanted and unnecessary C-sections daily, and our maternal mortality rate has risen thanks to this. Doesn't WOMEN DYING rank a bit higher than their chosen last name? Or what about the women who will die because of lack of access to a safe abortion? Or 13-year-old girls being arrested for prostitution, when they're not even old enough to consent to sex until they're at least 14? Dunno... seems like there are better things on which to spend "feminist" blog space...)

Clarissa said...

Chriss: since you are a vegetarian, could you answer the following question for me: how do you feel about a person who eats meat every single day but insists she is a vegetarian? Would that seem at all hypocritical to you?

As for the rest of your post, pontificating about women "being bullied into C-sections" (a total lie) is easier than having the courage of your opinions and learning to practice what your preach.

I would also be grateful if you stopped giving me orders as to how I should best allocate space on MY blog, ok? This just goes to the discussion of respect for other people's choices.

Anonymous said...

"Don't we have bigger fish to fry than last names?"

-In case you didn't notice this isn't just about last names. Women still do most of housework and are primary caregivers to their children. It's hardly a non-valid feminist concern to fight for equality in the private sphere. There are two possible approaches to this issue: 1. you believe that housework is "a woman's job", somehow inherently given to her by nature just because of being born female; and 2. everybody should do their own household chores. Household duties should be split equally.

The first approach is traditionalist. It ends up robbing women of time they could dedicate to their careers, to their personal, spiritual and professional realization. Eventually, the male partner will end up making more money and having a much better career.

The second approach is feminist. I don't understand how you can believe that it's your duty to serve a grown man but still consider yourself a feminist.

mari said...

right, Clarissa. let's just all unite and embody masculinist fantasies via World of Warcraft...

Clarissa said...

mari: I don't even know what you are talking about. Unlike you, I have never even seen this game. I was just trying to do something nice for people who can't afford to buy a game. For now, people from Spain and Malaysia have got the free passes. How is that a bad thing?

I can see that Palinbots have no arguments in support of their position. So now they start making weird comments about God knows what to divert the issue. This is concern trolling, people.

Criss L. Cox said...

Clarissa:
I would find that person to be silly, but I wouldn't find MY vegetarianism threatened by that person's meant-eating.

So, is feminism purely about household chores and last names? Because that's the only measurement you're using to dismiss these women as non-feminists.

(In which case, I have to say, I'm a little confused... you use Sarah Palin as the monolith of non-feminism, and I'll bet you anything that she is NOT the one doing the dishes in her household.)

Anonymous:
You quoted my question, so I assume your comment was directed at me. Yet I'm the one who has her husband do all the household chores, so I'm not sure why you're chastising ME about household chores... I don't do them. (And I make more money than my husband, and he's made more sacrifices to allow me to pursue grad school than I have for him.)

I believe in relationships that are build on mutual love and respect. Which can be measured in a myriad of ways, not just by who stands at the kitchen sink longer.

You can't just look at the final outcome, you have to look at the REASONS why one party is doing X chore and why the other party is not. Emily explained very clearly WHY she was the one who did the dishes, and "it's a woman's job" had nothing to do with it. "We are in a relationship, which means give and take, and at this stage of our relationship this is what I need to do and this is what you need to do, and when our situation changes we'll reevaluate the situation" was more like it.

Anonymous said...

"Chriss: since you are a vegetarian, could you answer the following question for me: how do you feel about a person who eats meat every single day but insists she is a vegetarian? Would that seem at all hypocritical to you?"

The reason why your analogy doesn't quite work is because there's a pretty solid consensus on what's considered to be meat and what's not. Because of this understanding, it would then be hypocritical for someone to claim his/herself veggie if they ate meat every day.

The definition of feminism is not so concrete. I would think that many feminists believe that being able to freely make their own decisions is one aspect of feminism. However, by coming here and seeing that you clearly don't know that this is something feminism has accomplished, I must now think otherwise. Thus, your analogy fails.

Clarissa said...

"I would find that person to be silly, but I wouldn't find MY vegetarianism threatened by that person's meant-eating."

-Sure, that's exactly how I felt. At first. But then imagine that you start seeing endless books, TV shows, articles, websites, blogs and college courses defending a vegetarian's right to eat meat. Imagine that gradually when you say you are vegetarian, people think it's perfectly fine to offer you a steak. How soon will you start getting annoyed? How soon will you start getting angry? How soon will you end up writing a post very similar to mine?

Clarissa said...

"I would think that many feminists believe that being able to freely make their own decisions is one aspect of feminism. However, by coming here and seeing that you clearly don't know that this is something feminism has accomplished"

-Anonymous: do you know what was the main argument against granting women the right to vote? It was that women themselves don't want the vote. That women are perfectly content with not voting. That women decide freely to choose the life of submission to men because they are perfectly happy with their secondary existence. Very often, these arguments were proclaimed very loudly and insistently by women.

So your idea that feminism is about "women's right to make their own choices" is simplistic and misinformed. Oppressive systems always make people THINK that they choose their own oppression. You remind me of people who say that "poor and homeless choose to be poor and homeless."

Megan G.O. said...

I'm interested--what would you say if this was a queer relationship with two women, one of whom had longer hours and simply less time to do chores. Would the women who had more time and thus got more chores still be "unfeminist"? Or does the gender of the significant other change everything? After all, she would no longer be an "appendage to a man," though the other facts of the situation would remain the same.

Clarissa said...

A relationship where one person cooks and cleans for another person, gives up her identity for them, is subservient to them and gets repaid for all that with a diamond is not, in my opinion, a feminist relationship. The gender of participants is irrelevant here.

The argument that one person needs to become the other's servant because their partner has "longer hours" is mind-boggling. If the one with long hours lived alone, they would surely find a way to clean after themselves and feed themselves, right? So why should the appearance of another person in their lives change that?

Another idea that I find offensive is that women get stuck with more chores because "they have more time." This is an egregious lie. Women everywhere have LESS time to themselves and for pursuits that interest them. Women have to work longer hours in less paying jobs because of workplace discrimination. Then, on top of all that, they have to rush home and serve their lords and masters. It's beyond ridiculous that people would still pretend this isn't so and come here to insist on this ancient patriarchal myth of leisurely women who need to do everything around the house to avoid dying of boredom.

Butterflywings said...

Well said, Clarissa. I completely agree. Take no notice of the trolls.

Some things just are not feminists, no matter what the choice 'feminists' think.

I'm sure medical students who don't have the luxury of a partner and live alone, or with flatmates, manage to find time to feed themselves and clean. Or not; the point is, they don't have someone to do it for them.

Megan G.O. said...

My mother (who kept her name she she married) works long hours; she leaves the house at 6:30am, and doesn't get back until 7pm most nights. As a result, my dad does most of the chores, including cooking. He has a job that allows him to work from home and move his hours around as he pleases. Sure, we could make Mom do her "share" of the chores, but she would end up exhausted and with even less time for the things she loves.

But if gender is irrelevant, then this is an unfeminist relationship, and the peace and overall happiness of the household is founded on patriarchy; therefore I, as a feminist, should disapprove.

Subservience and surrender of identity really don't enter into it at all; it's practicality, pure and simple.

Yes, women overall have less time to do things, but in the blog post you were referring to, she has, mathematically speaking, more time. And most of the people I know who have hectic lives and long hours who live alone end up eating greasy takeout all the time and barely keep the house from collapsing. They manage. But part of a healthy relationship is looking out for the other person and not always putting your immediate desires first. My BF looks after me during exam season, and I've stayed up late with him while he prints out projects in computer labs. Compromise, on occasion, does not add up to "appendage."

Serenity said...

"and when our situation changes we'll reevaluate the situation"

Are there women who are so naive that they still believe this shit? When at the beginning of a relationship you allow the housework to be branded as your duty, it will never change. It will get worse. You can't change a balance of power once it has been established. Once you have given your power away, good luck trying to re-negotiate that later on.

Pagan Topologist said...

The definition of "meat is not so clear. My daughter is a vegetarian, but in at least one country she visited her hosts were surprised that she declined to eat chicken. They said "It's fine. It's not meat, it's chicken."

JT said...

Clarissa,

I'm interested to know what your perspective is on what a feminist relationship would look like. You're quite quick to comment on Emily's choices, yet offer little in return on what a feminist partnership might look like. I'm genuinely curious.

Clarissa said...

Good question, JT. An equal partnership where nobody is subservient or secondary to another. Where nobody abandons their identity or their existence to another. Where nobody sacrifices their career to another. Where household chores are split equally. Where people contribute equally to paying bills and keep the rest of what they earn to themselves. Where having long hours is not en excuse to enslave your partner. Where nothing is prescribed by gender.

I know people who live in just this type of relationship. I live like that too. It is more than possible.

Anonymous said...

Clarissa is right. For the people who are getting all defensive about themselves and twisting around her words: YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT. Sure, people give and take in life but if you choose to cook and clean after someone, give up your own name etc. in the name of 'love', while simultaneously giving up the option to do something more substantial with your life, that choice in itself is based on sexism. It's not about whether or not you don't MIND doing laundry for someone while that person works for his/her advance. It's about the choice IN ITSELF. A person who is truly free from all the sexism in our society would never make that choice. And please don't go on and on about how housework is important and it is just as substantial and worthwhile as pursuing a real career. The fact is that everyday cooking and cleaing are tasks are simple tasks that the average person can do easily enough.It's NOT THAT BIG A DEAL. There's a reason why there aren't any housewives who are remembered for the significant impact they have had on human history.

Anonymous said...

Clarissa is right. For the people who are getting all defensive about themselves and twisting around her words: YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT. Sure, people give and take in life but if you choose to cook and clean after someone, give up your own name etc. in the name of 'love', while simultaneously giving up the option to do something more substantial with your life, that choice in itself is based on sexism. It's not about whether or not you don't MIND doing laundry for someone while that person works for his/her advance. It's about the choice IN ITSELF. A person who is truly free from all the sexism in our society would never make that choice. And please don't go on and on about how housework is important and it is just as substantial and worthwhile as pursuing a real career. The fact is that everyday cooking and cleaning are simple tasks that the average person can do easily enough. It's NOT THAT BIG A DEAL. There's a reason why there aren't any housewives who are remembered for the significant impact they have had on human history.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

"If she wants to become a man's servant and his appendage who does not even deserve her own name, so be it."

This leaves me confused, because:

Choosing to change your name to your husband's last name = not feminist.

Choosing to keep your father's last name = feminist.

Huh?

Maybe the requirement for entry into the feminism club should be making up your own non-male-derivative name.

A name choice is a choice. Choice is feminist; not WHICH choice. It's HAVING the choice.

eric said...

Ahhh, I'm late for the party again...

It seems to me that feminism is not just about the household division of labor, but about being able to negotiate such things with one's partner in the first place.

Though Sarah Palin is a very modern woman in many ways, and she may like to co-opt feminism for the right, she is just not the genuine article. Just ask her how she feels about gay marriage, gays raising children, hetero couples unmarried but co-habiting, and married couples who choose not to have children (like my wife and I). We all know what her answer will be.

Once we cut individualism out of the discussion (i.e. what's in it for me versus him or her), the issue becomes clear: feminism is about being able to negotiate gender identity, for both women and men, without relying on traditional authority, religious or secular. Household chores, etc., come out in the wash following this principle.

Clarissa said...

Kelly: so an unfair and patriarchal tradition should not be resisted because it has been around for too long? Seriously?

My mother kept her own last name and started a new tradition for her daughters. Somebody has got to start changing things instead of offering these weak excuses. Somebody has got to start asserting that women are not secondary, that we are fully human. Somebody has got to start overturning these barbaric traditions.

It's easy to come up with a gazillion excuses why one needs to keep presenting herself as her husband's property. It's a bit more difficult to see oneself as one's own person and act accordingly.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

What is more unfair about making the choice to change your name when you get married (or really, any time you feel like it) than making the choice to keep the name you were given at birth? You don't get a choice when you're born. You do later in life. There's more fairness, I'd say, in the name later in life.

I know many women who choose to keep their "maiden" name. Many who hypehnate. Who change their name. Who add a name on to their current name. I know men who change their name to their wife's name. When a man makes that choice, is it also unfair?

Really, I don't see where you're getting unfairness, or barbarism, becoming another's property, or losing personal identity in a name choice! It's simply one small (relatively unimportant and rather meaningless) choice in the larger scheme of things.

Clarissa said...

Please read the entire post carefully.It's so not just about changing the name. The woman is planning an ultra-conservative lifestyle in all respects. This is, of course, her choice. This choice, however, has nothing to do with feminism. She is planning to turn herself into a maid and a servant of this man. The name is just the starting point for this process.


The prblem with taking the man's name later in life is precisely that it's your decision, as opposed to what happens at birth. While you couldn't have controlled being inscribed into the patriarchal system at birth, you can control it later in life. Making a conscious decision to brand yourself as a man's property means you bear full responsibility for it. I don't understand how anybody can claim they are a feminist and simultaneously give up their entire identity and every single achievement (high school diploma, college diploma, advanced degrees, publications) just for a dubious honor to be seen as some guy's property.

Geez, there can be tons of guys in one's life. With the growing rate of divorce, one has to be a fool not to see that men are transient. How stupid and desperate does one have to be to give up their identity every time some guy passes by?

Anonymous said...

Clarissa, this may be a bit off-topic but the debate here reminds me of something I've been thinking about a while ago. I recently had a chance to visit Iran. The people there-men and women both-literally think that a woman is 'worth half a man.' The women there almost unconsiously buy into the terribly oppressive culture they're living in and they're clearly very unhappy because of it. But since they're not consciously aware of why they're so unhappy, most of them can't help but be permanently miserable. It was really frustrating to watch them and I wondered if there was any way to persuade them and make them understand that their way of life is just plain cruel for women.But of course, I couldn't even begin to think of how, so I just kept to myself in silence. After visiting your blog, I wonder if you might have any ideas.

geo said...

"But he just doesn’t have time for those household chores. So I don’t do those chores for him; I do it for us."

One can accept this at face value, feel that things should be "equal" and that this isn't "equal" or otherwise Believe - That This Means - certain things down the road - or in larger ways related to the Relationship.

(As a man I can Understand how the latter could easily be Perceived as Reality - but it isn't Obviously - the Reality for this woman. Personally - I'd give her a break on this one.)

"He gave me a gorgeous ring which I love."

I can't imagine how this matters in the Great Scheme of Things - UNLESS - one makes Presumptions as well to What it Means.

"I will probably take his last name so that our family will all have the same last name."

I convinced my (now ex-)wife in 1977 to keep her Maiden Name, but again this Could be a Possible Warning Sign - but only that.

Just Because this Woman's noted choices makes you Question things (a reasonable assumption), in no Way necessarily means she's not a "feminist".

I think that you're confusing Her Defining Her Feminism - by these particular choices (which reading her original posting I don't think she says) and her saying - "I'm a feminist" while noting other things that certainly Don't Push towards her being a Feminist.

She doesn't sound like a Very Interesting Person - yes perhaps. Certainly there may be Particular Traps - in her Doctor's Wife future lifestyle. She's No "Radical Feminist" - duh!

I'd still not Quibble with her! In the Great Scheme of Things - oft times those on the "outside" - e.g. many of us, often need the more "mainstream" as allies.

I think that I'd argue similar points to yours - Clarissa re: most Democrats, and many other supposed "allies".

geo said...

Clarissa - I hear very different words than you speak! Reading what you quoted and the original posting of the woman - you gave 3 Examples of clearly Non-Feminist perspectives:
1.) Equal Housework, 2.) Engagement Ring, 3.) Name Changing - and she spoke of the Doctor's Wife Future where she will do most of the Kid Care.

You seem appalled by this Woman's saying: "I'm a Feminist and lots of things I do and may do aren't "clearly Feminist"."

While she obviously May Well be "not Feminist", to me I'd really want to Know much More of the Core of Their Relationship.

You've Presumed from what she's said that she's Not Feminist. I'd want to know How They Relate at a Deep Level and IF he defers to Her and Hears Her as an Equal.

Obviously - What She Says - doesn't Show any clear "equality".

One of my Late Aunts lived within a horribly Sexist (to my Eyes) Orthodox Jewish World. At her Funeral (gender Segregated) only the Sons (not Daughters) spoke. At the same time she was a Powerful Woman (far stronger than her Husband who is still alive).

I could have judged her in ways similar to How you Judge this Woman, but I'd have missed a Lot of Important Things about her.

Perhaps it's my "old age", but remembering Andrea Dworkin and other "radical Feminists", as well as others, I see a Bigger Tent now, and am Not So Quick to Judge.

Clarissa said...

Geo: I know what you are saying but I feel like this strategy of taking anybody as a possible ally has backfired for the progressives and it will be equally unproductive for feminism. I have already posted about what feminism has become (at least on campus): bake sales, menstruation celebrations, grad courses on how toilet cleaning is an inherently female occupation.

Our message keeps getting diluted by endless discussions of which brand of diamond is more feminist or whether it's feminist to wear pink. The movement is drowning in triviality. That's why it's so frustrating to hear yet another "I'm a feminist because I want to marry a doctor and wash his socks" kind of rant.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

I was replying more to our replies/posts than I was to the specific "feminist" mentioned in your post.

In general, I disagree that choosing to change your name when you are married is akin to "brand(ing) yourself as man's property".
No moreso than if a man chose to change his name to his wife's. People aren't property where I come from.

Back to specifics - I'm not really sure where you're referencing giving up "entire identity & every single acheivement"... I didn't read that from the post you referenced. I believe the author indicated she was a teacher.

Not everyone's goals are, nor should be, to obtain advanced degrees, publish, or live a life in academia, nor in the corporate world, or any role or career path other than what you want in your heart.

"One has to be a fool not to see that men are transient"...? Really, are you just being purposefully inflammatory? All men are transient as much as all women are whores. Honestly, throwing something like that out there really takes away from your argument. If no value should be placed in relationships because of the possibility of failure, then should none of us travel by car because of the possibility of crashing? Never swim because of the possibility of drowning?

A person, any person - male or female - can forge a relationship with another person without giving up their identity. Any person - male or female - can bring good into a relationship - honesty, fidelity, and honor their partner with independence and personal growth. If you haven't experienced that, and thus have set in your mind that it doesn't exist, I would suggest that you open your mind a bit. There are wonderful people out there, who don't think of others as their property, who don't expect anyone to "give up" their personhood, or goals, for them, who want to and do stay engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship for the long term.

While I don't think that (specifics again) the "feminist" author you quoted was an exemplary representation of what one would typically consider a feminist, I also realize that people, relationships, and the choices women and men make going into them, aren't black & white, and there isn't a list of rules to be a feminist.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

I was replying more to our replies/posts than I was to the specific "feminist" mentioned in your post.

In general, I disagree that choosing to change your name when you are married is akin to "brand(ing) yourself as man's property".
No moreso than if a man chose to change his name to his wife's. People aren't property where I come from.

Back to specifics - I'm not really sure where you're referencing giving up "entire identity & every single acheivement"... I didn't read that from the post you referenced. I believe the author indicated she was a teacher.

Not everyone's goals are, nor should be, to obtain advanced degrees, publish, or live a life in academia, nor in the corporate world, or any role or career path other than what you want in your heart.

"One has to be a fool not to see that men are transient"...? Really, are you just being purposefully inflammatory? All men are transient as much as all women are whores. Honestly, throwing something like that out there really takes away from your argument. If no value should be placed in relationships because of the possibility of failure, then should none of us travel by car because of the possibility of crashing? Never swim because of the possibility of drowning?

A person, any person - male or female - can forge a relationship with another person without giving up their identity. Any person - male or female - can bring good into a relationship - honesty, fidelity, and honor their partner with independence and personal growth. If you haven't experienced that, and thus have set in your mind that it doesn't exist, I would suggest that you open your mind a bit. There are wonderful people out there, who don't think of others as their property, who don't expect anyone to "give up" their personhood, or goals, for them, who want to and do stay engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship for the long term.

While I don't think that (specifics again) the "feminist" author you quoted was an exemplary representation of what one would typically consider a feminist, I also realize that people, relationships, and the choices women and men make going into them, aren't black & white, and there isn't a list of rules to be a feminist.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

I was replying more to our replies/posts than I was to the specific "feminist" mentioned in your post.

In general, I disagree that choosing to change your name when you are married is akin to "brand(ing) yourself as man's property".
No moreso than if a man chose to change his name to his wife's. People aren't property where I come from.

Back to specifics - I'm not really sure where you're referencing giving up "entire identity & every single acheivement"... I didn't read that from the post you referenced. I believe the author indicated she was a teacher.

Not everyone's goals are, nor should be, to obtain advanced degrees, publish, or live a life in academia, nor in the corporate world, or any role or career path other than what you want in your heart.

"One has to be a fool not to see that men are transient"...? Really, are you just being purposefully inflammatory? All men are transient as much as all women are whores. Honestly, throwing something like that out there really takes away from your argument. If no value should be placed in relationships because of the possibility of failure, then should none of us travel by car because of the possibility of crashing? Never swim because of the possibility of drowning?

A person, any person - male or female - can forge a relationship with another person without giving up their identity. Any person - male or female - can bring good into a relationship - honesty, fidelity, and honor their partner with independence and personal growth. If you haven't experienced that, and thus have set in your mind that it doesn't exist, I would suggest that you open your mind a bit. There are wonderful people out there, who don't think of others as their property, who don't expect anyone to "give up" their personhood, or goals, for them, who want to and do stay engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship for the long term.

While I don't think that (specifics again) the "feminist" author you quoted was an exemplary representation of what one would typically consider a feminist, I also realize that people, relationships, and the choices women and men make going into them, aren't black & white, and there isn't a list of rules to be a feminist.

Clarissa said...

Kelly: if you honestly don't understand why abandoning the name you lived under your entire life just because some man came about is pathetic, I don't think I can help. Women are schooled to see themselves as not fully human, so sure, it's just a name, what's the big deal.

And giving up your time to clean and cook for him, as well, why the hell not? His career, his time, his profession are a lot more important.

Eventually, such women end up with no lives of their own. But the fact that they gave up their inidviduality willingly in no way makes them feminist.

Clarissa said...

"A person, any person - male or female - can forge a relationship with another person without giving up their identity. Any person - male or female - can bring good into a relationship - honesty, fidelity, and honor their partner with independence and personal growth."

-I wonder why all defenders of male supremacy are so grandiloquent and pompous.

Could you avoid these meaningless commonplaces in the future? Such empty statements are a total waste of space.

kelly @kellynaturally said...

I'm not defending "male supremacy" any more than you're defending female supremacy. I'm trying to give examples less black and white than you seem to be putting out there (all men are transient. changing your name is pathetic.). You know... differing points of view?

Your blog is interesting. I thought over & over your article, your responses, and my own responses over the last couple of days. Analyzed how I thought about things (I haven't had the opportunity to study feminism, and find your point of view interesting).

Then, I take time from my wonderfully busy life, to craft a response, in the hopes that you too might take time to think, process, analyze things from a different point of view, from someone not living the single life of an academic, and instead, you immediately respond, with an insult.

It makes your blog, and your thoughts much less interesting to me and I find it hard to justify spending more time here.

If your goal is to help more people understand and embrace feminism, you may want to reconsider your alienating approach.

Honey catching more flies than vinegar, and all that.

Clarissa said...

Kelly: if you have a blog that's more popular than mine, please leave a link to it here, and I will be happy to read it and learn from you how to make a blog better and more popular. (Just for reference: yesterday I had 711 unique visitors to the blog.)

If yoou don't have a more popular blog, however, then I don't think it makes much sense for me to follow your advice on how to attract people to a blog.

Criss L. Cox said...

"If yoou don't have a more popular blog, however, then I don't think it makes much sense for me to follow your advice on how to attract people to a blog."

Whow-whee!!!

Hmm... so, by your logic...

Sarah Palin has WAY more followers than you on Twitter and Facebook, and she's mentioned (and hashtagged) on Twitter WAY more than you are. So that means we should all listen to Sarah instead of you?

(PS: I believe Kelly was giving you advice on how to "help more people understand and embrace feminism"... but what would I know, I'm just an appendage.)

I won't scroll back to find the quote (because that'll take a long time), but if I understand correctly, your definition of a "feminist relationship" is one where neither party does anything for the other (because that would be subjugation), right? Where neither party shares anything with the other: you each do your own laundry, you each do your own dishes, you each pay your own bills...

So, pretty much, a "feminist relationship" is having a roommate with whom you have sex. Did I get it right?

Do you each have separate shelves on the fridge and in the pantry (for "His" and "Hers" groceries, since neither one of you should be so submissive as to do the shopping or pay for food for the other)? Or do you just label your food items, to make sure neither one grabs the other's milk in the morning?

I know I'm personally, solely responsible for setting the Women's Lib movement back decades, since I'm A) married, B) a teacher, C) my husband's appendage, because I took his name to no longer have a name that sounded like a male appendage, and D) pregnant, but I gotta say... I kinda like having a marriage where I don't have to keep a scorecard to see who's done more for whom.

Frees up lots of my time, to pursue my interests, further my education, grow as a person, and, oh, yeah... squeeze in some activism here and there.

Clarissa said...

Once again people started talking to voices in their heads, which is very boring to witness.

Please, dear Chriss, give me some quotes on where I condemned anybody for being a) married, b) a teacher and c) pregnant.

If no such quotes are forthcoming, then I suggest you recognize publicly that you dishonestly accused me of saying things I never said.

Your strange fantasies about my personal life only demonstrate how insecure you are about your own. For this reason, I will not address thim. they are just too bizarre. I'm sad that this is the only alternative you envision to not cleaning and cooking for a grown man as if you were his servant.

Criss L. Cox said...

Chlarissa,

You're right, I took the liberty of using my critical thinking skills and making inferences. Silly me.

A) Marriage is an archaic, patriarchal institution, where a man takes ownership of a woman -- that's why the priest says, "I know pronounce you MAN and WIFE". See, HE gets to still be a MAN, but SHE stops being an independent WOMAN and becomes merely his WIFE.

The title "Mrs." is an abbreviation of "mistress of," clearly denoting property.

The cherry on top of the submission sundae is when she takes his last name.

But since you never said THOSE EXACT WORDS, it is clear from everything else you have written here that you TOTALLY don't believe any of that; just the opposite, in fact.

B) Emily (the non-feminist you're bashing in this post) is a teacher, and every time you talk about her relationship she is merely "a Doctor's Wife," not a teacher. She's your example of a woman who gives up her career (because she gave it up, remember?) to serve her man, so logically it follows that teaching is not a career, or even a job... since all Emily will be doing is cooking and cleaning for the doctor.

Besides, teaching has historically been "women's work," and that's one of the reasons it's such a low-paying position (and one that commands no respect... it doesn't even qualify as a career, for cryin' out loud!) If women like Emily and me choose a job like teaching, it must be because we're internalized our society's sexism so fully that we THINK we want to teach and work with children, we THINK that is what will make us happy, but, just like those women who THOUGHT they shouldn't have a right to vote because they didn't "really" want to vote to begin with, we're just being duped by the patriarchy.

But, again, you never said THOSE EXACT WORDS so it couldn't possibly be the message you are trying to send.

C) If taking a man's LAST NAME makes me his appendage, then I can only imagine what taking his SEMEN makes me! I have become a slave to my body and the changes it goes through during pregnancy, putting my body through enormous stress JUST to carry my husband's offspring. WHO WILL ALSO HAVE MY HUSBAND'S LAST NAME. So I, my husband's appendage, and growing ANOTHER appendage for him.

I also refer back to the argument in point B: bearing children has traditionally been the woman's job -- the patriarchy has duped us into thinking it's our responsibility to make babies just because we happen to have the uteri -- so clearly I cannot have chosen to have a child out of my own volition. I have simply rationalized the sexist notion that, as a woman, I must like children and want to have one of my own. When, clearly, in reality I am hurting the pro-choice movement by carrying this pregnancy to term. If I were a real feminist, I would have done what real feminists do: I would have aborted.

"I'm sad that this is the only alternative you envision to not cleaning and cooking for a grown man as if you were his servant."

Actually, remember? I'm the one who's being served by my man. He does the laundry, the cooking, and the cleaning. And he does all the yard work. And he takes out the trash and the recycling. And when the cats bring in a dead bird, he's the one who deals with the carcass.

Really, I do very little. I fix the computer when it gets a virus, and I sort the junk mail and use our joint account to pay the bills.

So he's being a servant to me -- that's what makes my relationship unfeminist.

Ilana said...

"Sarah Palin has WAY more followers than you on Twitter and Facebook, and she's mentioned (and hashtagged) on Twitter WAY more than you are. So that means we should all listen to Sarah instead of you?"

-I guess it would be kind of stupid if you or I started giving Sarah Palin advice on how to make her twitter account or Facebook page more popular. )))))))))))))))))))))))))

Clarissa said...

Just to show you how silly it is to make baseless assumptions, I will let you know that I am also married and also a teacher. Once again, I can't argue with your baseless assumptions. You choose to attribute to me things that I never thought, let alone wrote and then expect me to argue with them.

Your fantasies about me rejecting childbirth are so silly and baseless that I don't even want to address them. I can only repeat that never in my life have I even conceived of such weird ideas as you have regaled us with on this blog.

I think the woman of the post I quoted (not you, once again, but her) is desperate to have the money and the position of being a doctor's wife. For this reason, she is becoming this man's servant and his appendage. That's something I think about her, not you. You can, of course, keep assuming and inferring but I'm afraid your further attempts to do so will be just as unsuccessful as this one.

Clarissa said...

This whole discussion reminded me of this blog whose owner presented herself as "a radical feminist." Of course, she was also a housewife and a fundamentalist Evangelical who homeschooled her kids to prevent them from being "contaminated by the evil out there." (That was a direct quote from her blog.) Also, she was rabidly anti-abortion and virulently homophobic.

I guess I shouldn't question her "radical feminism" either.

Anonymous said...

If this woman says she's a radical feminist, what gives you the right to question that?

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: I don't need "a right" to question that or anything else. We all have a right to question things just by virtue of being human.

Alan said...

A few thoughts, in no particular order but perhaps some general semblance of order:

--Sarah Palin's on-again, off-again claims to be "feminist" are beyond appalling. No disagreement there.

--The post by the med student's wife, though not even close to Palinesque, did contain more than a whiff of eyebrow-raising rationalisation for my taste.

--My own mother kept her "maiden" name, as did the feminist sociologist I'm married to. Changing one's name to one's husband's is absolutely very questionable from a feminist POV. The issue of what to name children is there, and tricky (my parents struggled with awkward hyphenation that is ultimately unsustainable over multiple generations); my suggestion would be to pass surnames down from mother to daughter and father to son.

--The "big beautiful diamond" bit is a tad nauseating as well; my wife did not want one of those when we got engaged, which I find very cool.

--As geo noted, the med student's fiancee does not sound at all like a "Very Interesting Person".

However, Clarissa:

--You undermined your case by commenting in an extremely prickly, thin-skinned manner.

--You resorted to extremely sarcastic, insulting hyperbole when the occasion called for nuance and sincere reflection.

--Your pissing contest over whose blog is more popular was incredibly cringe-inducing to read; and your flawed logic (quantity of readers trumps all else, apparently?!?) led you into the trap of Sarah Palin FTW (ack!!).

--Criss Cox in particular lobbed some very strong rhetorical volleys in your direction. They were not completely irrefutable, however. Had you acknowledged their potency, composed yourself, and carefully crafted a substantive response (perhaps including a clarification or two, and even a slight retreat from places where you had overextended yourself), you could have continued to be an effective advocate for a counterargument. Instead, though, you retreated petulantly to the tired old refrain of (I'm paraphrasing here, just to be clear) "I didn't say those exact words"; "you're making things up"; "That's so ridiculous I'm not even going to dignify it with a response" (this can sometimes be the case, of course, but I think most everyone reading could see it was certainly not the case here).

--It all adds up to, as they say on the series of tubes these days, a giant fail--you got pwned. And that's a shame, really, because I do still believe your original point had merit.

Chelsea said...

Clarissa, first, I'd like to briefly introduce myself--I'm a woman in her mid 20s with an MBA, and with a boyfriend of just about 9 years, and we're in the process of planning our wedding.

Your post really turned me off and made me glad not to call myself a feminist.

My fiancee is not just "some man"; he's the person that means absolutely everything to me, who I adore and for who I would gladly give up anything.

I plan on taking his name after we get married (we talked about, and he didn't care either way); it was me who decided to take his name; I'm most proud of being his wife (and not of my career, which is pretty awesome too). I also cannot wait to be his wife, to take care of him, our children and our children.

My personal life takes priority over my professional life--I never get as much satisfaction from being a businesswoman as I do from being his girlfriend, and in just a few months, his wife.

As you can see, I am making a conscious decision to be his "appendage" as you like to call it, and I could not be happier. So just who are you exactly to tell me that I'm wrong and that I don't know what I want?

Again, so proud NOT to be a feminist.

Anonymous said...

" never get as much satisfaction from being a businesswoman as I do from being his girlfriend, and in just a few months, his wife."

-Just for the sake of curiosity, aren't you at all bothered that he doesn't feel the same about you?

Clarissa said...

Chelsea: I never told you anything at all. You are the one who came here with your weird aggression.

Chelsea said...

Anonymous, from where did you get that he doesn't feel the same way about me? Rest assured, he does.

As well, speaking of stay at home wives, do you think that it's so much easier for their husbands?

He now has to work much, much longer hours to support his family, he doesn't get to see his family as often as he'd like and the stress he experiences when he thinks about what might happen to his family if he loses his job is horrible, especially given the shaky economy.

As a working individual, I experience *some* of that stress everyday, but knowing that I have my fiancee to pick up the slack is calming.

Clarissa said...

Everybody: please notice how housewives who screech about their happiness as appendages are the most unreasonably angry people in the world. They run after people who have no interest in the whatsoever and try desperately to attract their attention by hollering: 'I'm happy! Plase pay attention to how happy I am!!"

Chelsea said...

Wow, Clarissa, you could not be more condescending. I am not trying to get your attention, I have better things to do; all I’m trying to do is to show you the other side of the story—that some women are happy being housewives and from caring for their husbands and their children. It took me a while to realize this, but I am so happy that I did—once you’re in a relationship, it’s not about “me” and “you” anymore, it’s about “us”—both of us have to do everything it takes for the family unit to be “profitable”—it cannot be about “me!me!me!” all the time.

Responsibilities come with being in a relationship with another person; otherwise, the relationship doesn’t have any chance of surviving.

For example, a housewife takes care of her husband and their children and their house by staying home and cooking, doing laundry, etc….In return, the husband goes to work and earns money to ensure that his wife and their children have a good life and they don’t miss anything. What part about this sounds unequal? It’s different, it’s not the same, but it’s equal.

Clarissa said...

Chelsea: everything in your last post is very well-known to any one over the age of four. But thank you for bringing it to my attention anyways.

Anonymous said...

Clarissa: be completely honest and answer the question: what gives you more pleasure being a wife to your husband, or your job? :):):):)

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: Seeing as we are talking about two completely different kinds of pleasure, I don't think it's possible to compare them.

What is it with everybody, did you guys start celebrating the weekend a little too early? :-))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Anonymous said...

You got me! I'm on my thrid vodka tonic. Hee hee hee. :0 :0 :0

Clarissa said...

Cheers, friend!!!

Anonymous said...

"I never get as much satisfaction from being a businesswoman as I do from being his girlfriend, and in just a few months, his wife."

Maybe you're just a really crappy businesswoman.

V said...

Now I really have to come to Palin's blog (do not even know if she has one) and exclaim - how happy I am not to be a republican!!! I get such a satisfaction in life from supporting democrats! :) :)
This is an equivalent of what Chelsea is doing...

Chelsea, please note that I am not judging your choices in any way whatsoever, I am just mirroring your way of defending them.

Anonymous said...

Wow, the people who accuse you of being "prickly" are very thin-skinned people indeed!

--Alix

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Alix.

When people come to other people's blogs to defend their lifestyle with such passion and anger, this tells me a lot about how they really feel about their "choices." :-)

Alan said...

Alix, I believe I was the only one who used the word "prickly". What evidence did I give of being thin-skinned? Or are you conflating my posts with Chelsea's? I hope not, because I do not share or endorse her perspective.

Sarah said...

Interesting. I have to say - while I love my job - I definitely get more satisfaction from my family. I work to live, not live to work.

I do think its naive to lump all men in the same boat though. My husband and I are a team, and we tackle chores as a team. If one of us has more time, they do the chore. As it happens right now, he is doing the primary childcare, as well as cooking. But I would never ever consider him subservient to me. Cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc. are just 3 chores out of a huge list that we tackle together. I do not see how certain chores are subservient, where other chores are not - its just stuff that needs to get done.

When my husband goes to grad school (once the kids are old enough where they are in school), he will have less time, and I will take on more of those chores. Currently I have less time, and he is taking on those chores. It has not affected how we see eachother, or how equal we are in this partnership.

My work is part of my identity. His work is part of his identity. But neither one of us is solely defined by our work. If i clean the bathroom, its because I want a clean bathroom. If he cooks dinner, its because its dinner time and he's hungry. But it would be selfish for him not to cook for the entire family, or for me to tell him he can't use the clean bathroom. Because we are a team - we are not opposing sides.

David said...

I feel really bad about this, but I agree with Alan's comment above.

You had a point in there somewhere and it was lost at sea

Let's take a look:

"When people come to other people's blogs to defend their lifestyle with such passion and anger, this tells me a lot about how they really feel about their "choices." :-)"

I could have quoted this verbatim from some right wing anti-choice activist's site. But instead, it came from your keyboard.

I wouldn't for a minute think that because my Dad was a stay-at-home writer who did the majority of the cooking and cleaning around the house that he was an appendage to my Mom. For the woman who wrote the post at the top: if she supports other women in choosing to not do the housework, to be able to full reproductive rights, to have full rights and pay in the workplace, then her personal choices do not matter.

No, this is not the same as a supposed feminist who takes her children out of school to indoctrinate them. No, this is not the same as someone who rages on about "fags ruining America". False equivalency is apparently in fashion today.

I understand this is your blog and you can and will say whatever you wish. But it genuinely confuses me, a person who wants to enage with these ideas in good faith, because I don't see the logical support for some of the opinions you've put forth in this article.

Cheers, and keep writing.