Beyoncé, in the midst of an epic 15 minute medley at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music awards, performed her song “Flawless” in front of a giant screen blazoned with the word “FEMINIST”. And, as in her music video, the superstar sampled author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech on feminism and expectations for girls.
The zeitgeist is irrefutably feminist: its name literally in bright lights.
Denying that women are a victimized class is simply wrong. What else would you call a segment of the population who are systematically discriminated against in school, work and politics? How would you describe a population whose bodies are objectified to the point of dehumanization? Women are harassed, attacked and sexually assaulted with alarming regularity in America and around the world, and now even more of them live in states where, if pregnant, they can be refused medical attention or arrested for refusing C-sections.
People who are on the shit end of oppression are oppressed. Accurately describing this is not a matter of politics, but of truth.
One of the strangest anti-feminist stereotypes to me – among the Birkenstock-wearing and bra-burning – is the idea that we’re unhappy. Angry. Bitter. Both because the foundation of the insult is the assumption that women should be perpetually happy, and because the truth is that the culture doesn’t actually mind if women are unhappy – so long as we keep it to ourselves.
Women’s distress directed inward – from eating disorders to feelings of inadequacy – keeps the status quo moving along, with diet pills selling through the roof and women asking for promotions far less often than their male counterparts. But when our dissatisfaction takes an outward turn, people get uncomfortable. Then, women’s emotions are “hysterical” or over-the-top. Anything less than a bubbly disposition means that we’re “bitches”. Hell hath no fury like a man who finds a woman displeasing.
We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet.
…Humanity requires both men and women, and we are equally important and need one another. So why are we viewed as less than equal? These old attitudes are drilled into us from the very beginning. We have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life. And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly possible.
"That was something that my mom would always point out to my brother and me, that our culture does often portray women especially… like objects. For example, we would always watch Lakers games as a family, but my mom would always point out every time the cheerleaders come on, ‘Okay, so look, here’s the story that gets told: The men get to be the heroic skilled athletes and the women just get to be pretty.’ She didn’t mean any offense to any individual woman who was working as a cheerleader, but she wanted me and my brother to be aware of it because we see these images on TV, in the movies, and on magazines all the time. And if you don’t stop and think about it, it just sort of seeps into your brain and that becomes the way you perceive reality."