Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feminism and Pop Culture

Ahh, the what seems like, ages old discussion of feminism and what it means.  Have we sorted that out yet?  As far as I'm concerned, it's always been about women having the freedom to make their own choices for their lives without judgment and contempt, but with the respect we deserve. It's about living the life you want to live free of the constraints dictated by conventional society of old.   I've heard friends talk about others and say their indecision about whether or not they wanted children was just selfish.  I've witnessed people talking down to women who were in the middle of master's degree studies when they married and started a family, then decided to stay home and care for them.  I've heard that to be a feminist you have to hate men.  I was raised by smart and capable women. My maternal grandmother was one of those career gals who rose up in the 1940s. No, she wasn't the Rosie the Riveter type, but she loved the role she took on and stayed in the job force until she was shot at work trying to thwart an armed robber in the early 1970s.  She survived and she healed and I was lucky to have her in my life until 1994.  

My mother had dreams of seeing the world.  When she graduated high school in 1964, her plan was to go to nursing school and become a flight attendant and travel the world.  I was born a year and a half later and she was the most wonderful, attentive mother a girl could ask for. She was smart and beautiful and kind and she taught me a lot about love, life and the world.  She was a stay at home mom until my brother and I were in junior high school. She went to college and entered the workforce and still managed to be the perfect mother.  I'm grateful to my father for wanting her to stay home with us.  I can't believe it was a sexist matter.  He always told me that I could be whatever I wanted and he encouraged me to try new things.  He never divided things up between my brother and I as "girl things" or "boy things".  Yes, I wore dresses and played with dolls. I also climbed trees and was a crack shot with the bb gun and learned to ride the tiny 50 cc motorcycle my dad bought us when I was 9.  To clarify, we only shot the bb gun in the basement, as a rule I am anti-gun. There is no situation in which I would have ever considered pointing a gun at any living thing.  However, I could hit a swinging hot wheels road cone hanging from the lightbulb pull string consistently.  I had no concept of tomboy or girly girl. I was just me and those labels didn't apply.  

Michelle Dean at Flavorwire posts this article entitled The Ultimate Pop-Culture Feminist Syllabus  Sure, the title is pure hyperbole, but the contents, while not necessarily the ultimate, they are certainly a very strong jumping off point.  Dean states early on that she left out the obvious, which certainly takes away from the list being what she claims.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs at the top of any list like this. Joss Whedon's creation of a tiny little teenage girl who saves the world... a lot, is sublime perfection.  I think, if you were making the Ultimate list, you'd have to include the obvious.  That being said, there is much on this list to be lauded.  The idea of girl power, even when not realized, or when taken to the extreme has an undeniable allure.  

This article also sports the best comments I've seen in a while at good old Flavorwire. The hyperbolic nature of their article titles usually sends people into fits.  This time, many thoughtful opinions and suggestions were  offered, which definitely add to the quality of the article.  

You should also check out Martha Plimpton and Lena Dunham's tweets about feminism. I just happened to spot them the other night and I love that the discourse is still going strong, at least as long as it's positive.

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