Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Clumsy Feminism

I have already discussed my intense disappointment with the feminist group on my campus. It often seems to me that feminist organizations such as ours are dedicated to making feminism as unpalatable to everybody as possible. Look at the following announcement for "Womyn's Herstory Month" that appeared on a billboard in my building:

Not only is all this "herstory" and "womyn" stuff beyond outdated, it also is extremely heavy-handed and graceless. It's nothing but a remnant of the times when feminism did all it could to scare away huge numbers of people. We are located in the Bible Belt, and it's difficult as it is to get students to listen to anything even remotely feminist. Such clumsy efforts at introducing our student body to feminism will only end up making them see it as irrelevant and boring.


Anonymous said...

What would you propose instead?

Clarissa said...

Of course, reading my blog is one of the most feminist things one can do. :-)

This particular billboard could lose "womyn" and "herstory" and become "women's history." That already would be a step in the right direction. One could create a fun, interesting display called "How feminism benefits women and men."

Rimi said...

Or 'Secret Histories of Our Time', perhaps. Better marketing.

Clarissa said...

Yes, that's brilliant.

Many fun activities could be created if only people tried instead of using ancient terminology and silly activities.

Anonymous said...

That' is some huge failure right there. I can't believe a misspelling like that would just slip by.

I like your type of feminism. Is definitely something that makes sense and I would get on board.
A lot of today's so called "feminists" have really ruined the perception of feminism today.

Clarissa said...

Oh, it's not spelling mistake. It's much worse than that. :-)

David said...

I'd get the word "herstory" if it weren't so ignorant of the origin of the word history.

This whole thing reminds me of goddamn freedom fries. We get it, you hate the french so much that you can't stand to eat a food that is even remotely associated with them.

NancyP said...

"herstory" = HER story. It's a bad pun, meant to get attention.

The term is dated, but the concept still applies. Many historians view women as "ahistorical" Universal Woman. One can natter on about productivity of medieval farming techniques or about the relative nutritional status of tenant farmer in 1250 vs tenant farmer in 1700, or about any other economic or demographic historical issues, while ignoring the fact that all household members had roles in production. I do believe that a fair number of historians hold an unrecognized assumption that women of other times and locations were pretty much like stereotypical middle-class women-as-consumers or stereotypical lower-class women-as-breeders today.

Clarissa said...

You are absolutely right, NancyP. I always shock my students by informing them that women always work. The imagine Medieval women as sitting there twiddling their thumbs all day long.

These things have to be explained to students. Will they listen, though, if the very first attempt to bring this information to them starts in this way?

Dr. Koshary said...

Hi Clarissa! I just started taking a good look around your blog today. The womyn/herstory business takes me way back — ah, memories!

A small tangential chuckle for you: back in the day, I knew a woman who had attended an elite SLAC that, during her time there, had seen discussions by students much like your campus group about spelling women with a y, as a recuperative measure. My friend told me that she knew it was time to let go of the guy she was dating then when he said, totally perplexed, "But...why would you want to be called yomen?"

I can't explain. I can only report.