Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maybe I'm not a feminist

I inadvertently opened a sh*t storm of discussion on FB when I posted about Jennifer Lawrence's nude photos and her Vanity Fair interview in which she calls the theft a "sex crime."

My post:  Far be it for me to be a voice of common sense, but perhaps if one wants to avoid having nude photos of oneself leaked, one might reconsider allowing nude photos to be taken in the first place.  hashtagcelebritiesareidiots

Apparently I am not a feminist because I think it is, in general, for man or woman, a bad idea to take nude selfies because one never knows into whose hands such photos might fall.  I thought this was common sense.  

It is not a moral issue with me at all.  I don't think it is slutty or weird or sick or anything of that nature.  I simply think it is the kind of stuff that can too easily get "out there."  If in someone else's hands/computer, it is too easy for the relationship to sour and those photos to come back to haunt someone (ask Stephen Collins, although in his case it was comments, not photos).  If they are in one's own hands/computer, it is too easy for them to be stolen or accidentally texted to one's in-laws (ask Kelly Ripa).  

Maybe I'm missing the point.

Does J-Law have a valid reason to be angry?  Of course.  Her computer was hacked.  Her property was stolen.

Is it a sex crime?  Good lord, no.  
That is what I took issue with initially.  Not the photos, but her reference to her violation being on par with women who have been raped or molested or had photos taken without their permission.  

But what happened on my FB post brought in other issues that I have been reflecting upon which, I guess, is a blessing.  Better than stewing over Ebola and Enterovirus, which is what I'd be doing otherwise.  

So what does it mean to be a feminist?  

I always thought it meant to support women's choices, and I think I generally do.  I think women should have the same opportunities as men and the option to pursue those opportunities if they wish. I think women (and men, for that matter) have to understand, though, that with every choice comes a cost.  Somehow I think women have been fed a line that we can "have it all," and I think that is bunk.  Something, and maybe many somethings, is going to be sacrificed in the attempt to have it all.  Maybe it is free time?  Maybe it is money?  Maybe it is sleep?  Maybe it is building a network of colleagues?  

No person, man or woman, can have everything they want at the exact moment they want it.  

Here is one issue I struggle with regarding feminism:  women (myself included) want to be treated the same as men, but we are not men and due to our bodies we have certain limitations that men have never had to consider and will never have to consider.

I have a daughter and sons, and if they ever wish to be sexually active, I will tell all of them to protect, protect, protect at all times.  My daughter is not to rely on the guy, and my sons are not to rely on the girl.  But my daughter, simply because she is a female, would be way more invested in the outcome of an accidental pregnancy than my sons.  That doesn't mean my sons would or should get a pass.  With power comes responsibility, but that responsibility is hugely different for women and men for no other reason than biology.

So what does that mean for women?  For feminism?

When I read about college girls who go to frat parties, get very drunk and are raped, I don't think to myself that they deserve it.  I think the boys who do such things should be punished to the full extent of the law.  However,  it seems to me that sometimes feminism means I can't acknowledge that perhaps going to a frat party and drinking until one passes out is not a good idea.  That doesn't excuse the crime; nothing does.  But in supporting women do I have to not say what seems like common sense?

If I walked into an Ebola isolation ward without taking any protective measures (gloves, mask, etc) and I got Ebola, does that mean I deserve to get Ebola?  Does it mean I shouldn't receive treatment?  Well of course not.  But would someone be evil and anti-Carrie if they acknowledged that maybe going into such a situation without taking some protective measures might not have been a well-considered plan?

Then there is the issue of women's bodies and feminism.  I thought feminism was the struggle to go beyond objectification, to not just be T&A.  In the J-Law case, she was interviewed by Vanity Fair (and this smacks of irony to me), and in the photos she looks very sensuous.  There is nothing inherently wrong in that.  Some would say because she is choosing to look sensuous that is ok, and women are making progress.  But I have to ask whether her choosing to do this is progress for herself or women as a whole?  If my 10-year-old daughter sees these photos in the magazine, is she learning about the feminist struggle to avoid objectification?

I don't know the answer to these questions.

Reading the article she says she was ashamed, embarrassed to have to talk to her dad about the photos that were hacked.  Am I not a feminist if I think to myself it is generally a good idea to avoid doing things that you would be embarrassed to have your parents find out about?  I would think my daughter and sons would be embarrassed to have to share such information with me.

In the FB showdown, it was suggested that I am bitter towards J-Law and celebrities and don't they have rights too.

I have no bitterness towards J-Law or any beautiful rich celebrities.  Bitterness would suggest I care a tremendous amount about them, and I don't.  I think they are good for my entertainment.  Bread and circuses.  Celebrities and the very, very rich and powerful do not live like regular folk.  As much as they may try to seem "normal," their lives are not normal, and I feel pity for them, really.  I certainly wouldn't want to trade places with any of them.  But, for better or worse, celebrity is what it is, and there is a very fine line between using one's own celebrity and having one's celebrity used for you.

So, where does this leave me?  Am I a feminist or not?  Am I so indoctrinated in the patriarchy that there is no hope for me?

The jury is still out.

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