My idea of feminism, why the modern movement bugs me, and Maya Angelou…

So, I inadvertently took a class I thought to be about learning to write, but instead was a class about feminist writers. Before y’all get up in arms, I do consider myself to be feminist, but old school, not extreme. This is my final paper, which I will likely not get a passing grade on, but I was true to myself and didn’t drink the kool-aid, so I am good with it.
So I am NOT bashing feminism, just sharing why it doesn’t work for me these days, what it means to me, and who I feel to be the epitome of feminist writers. Mature discussion welcome, be an asshole or insult other posters, and I will delete your ass. Peace…

 

In today’s world, feminism has taken on quite a derogatory meaning in some circles. Instead of being a unifying, polarizing movement, it now separates and divides not only men, but women as well. When assigned to write regarding this movement, it is hard for one who doesn’t not buy into the hype. To quote Barbara Kay:

The feminism I take exception to today is not the mild and blameless right of a woman to self-actualize that all women absorb by osmosis from the cultural air we breathe, but the radical ideology that has come to dominate the movement’s academic and institutional elites over the last 40 years.”[1]

One can be a woman and not be a part of this current wave of feminism. In the same manner that we can express ourselves differently on every other topic, we can have our own individual definition of feminism. I attempted, with each author we read, to grasp how each story made the author a feminist one. The concept was lost on me. Perhaps being an adult learner, perhaps just no interest in drinking the proverbial kool-aid. Each book described strong women standing up and making the changes necessary to realize their potential. While inspiring, nothing stood out as being the definition of feminism.

Feminism today has become an abomination, in this writers’ opinion, a movement of extremists resorting to theatrics to make their point. A point that sadly, cannot possibly taken seriously when wearing a hat resembling female genitalia. When you must scream to communicate your point, it is lost. It takes intelligence, perseverance and dignity to demonstrate what a “real” woman is and what she represents. Misandry is so much a part of our social system now; these extremists fail to realize that they themselves have become what they claim to hate.

So, when assigned as a final paper to read five more feminist authors, the thought was unbearable. I opted instead to try the suggested route of examining feminist poetry instead. What I found was roughly a 1:10 ratio of poems that I could relate too. Among that group, was a resounding theme; strength, character, history of overcoming tragedy and class (for lack of a better word). Not surprising, these authors were older and writing of a lifetime of experience. These were not college women screaming profanity at any man who walked by. These were quiet feminists, whose peaceful words screamed louder than the deafening crowd of pink hats we’ve witnessed in recent days.

One author that kept appearing in my searches, whom I already have read multiple times, is the embodiment of my idea of feminism. Maya Angelou is a strong, feminist woman, with insight and humor in her work. Born in 1928, she grew up experiencing discrimination of blacks, but also absorbed Southern African American values and traditions. These played a huge role in her life and echoed throughout her life’s’ work. Within her first twelve years, she experienced her parent’s divorce, moved from family member to family member, was sexually abused and reported, resulting in the abuser’s death, and because of this, remained mute for nearly 5 years fearing her own words. After leaving school at 16 to raise her son, she held several jobs in the entertainment genre including singer, dancer, actress, writer and poet. Her marriage to a South African Civil Rights leader took her to Africa, and despite the marriage ending, she stayed and continued to be involved in the movement. This passion was what drove her throughout her life despite what she lived through and, to use a modern day feminist quote “”Neverthelessshe persisted“. She wrote, “You will experience many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated”. THIS is feminism.

In her poem, And Still I Rise, the words scream with an unapologetic self-confidence. She will not be trod on by anyone and regardless of what life hands her, she will overcome it. Self-esteem is highly lacking in today’s adolescence and young adult women. They strive to keep up with clothes, trends, etc., all the time failing to see what really matters. Poems like this should be bedtime stories, fables to teach the lesson that today’s women are so much more than what they wear, carry or drive.

Phenomenal Woman also seeks to speak to the realness of a woman. Dr. Angelou writes, “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies, I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size”. Currently when Hollywood tells us we all need to look like a Kardashian to matter, this poem tells the truth of it. Value lies not in appearance, but in our self-assurance, that we are indeed perfect, exactly as we are made. We are nothing short of phenomenal, merely by being true to ourselves.

Finally, Human Family. This poem closes this paper perfectly. Modern day feminism, in this writers’ opinion, seeks to divide. Concentrating only on our differences, and irreparably segregating. Instead of concentrating on the core issues, the current movement has degraded to bullying and name-calling, behavior that mirrors the very actions they want to end.  There is certainly no dispute that we cannot let the decades of work to the equality of women fall behind. It is necessary to continue to evolve. However, to do so through extreme measures devalues the true spirit of the movement. Dr. Angelou’s Human Family highlights our differences, but with one unifying message:

“I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”

[1] https://winteryknight.com/2010/10/09/barbara-kay-writes-the-best-essay-against-feminism-ever-written/

 

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