What exactly is Feminism today anyway?

First wave feminism I understand. Second wave feminism I understand. Once we get into the modern era of feminism, I get very confused.

What exactly does the modern feminist stand for? Can’t figure it out. I’ve read feminist blogs and they only served to confuse me more. Contradictory ideals. Comments on the blogs from women also claiming to be feminists saying the blogger had no idea what they are talking about. Still can’t figure it out.

There’s such radically different ideologies under the feminism banner. I’ve watched interviews with sex workers and pornstars. They say sex is freedom of expression. They are in control of their bodies and sexuality. They love their work, it’s a lot of fun. They consider themselves feminists. But then you’ll have other women who say that porn industry encourages objectification and violence towards women. They can’t both be feminists, can they? So who is right? Who is the true feminist?

There’s sex positive feminists. There’s anti porn feminists. There’s feminists against abortion. There’s feminists who don’t believe in the rape culture. Feminists who do. There’s feminist feminism critics. Are they all feminists? Who do I support? Which one is the best one to support? Is there an objective way to pick?

We have this word “feminism” that means completely opposite things at the same time. It’s like if we decided to call all the colors of the rainbow, “red”. Hard to figure out what exactly red is.

If someone tells me that they are a feminist, I don’t know much about what they stand for. Gender equality on some form. Should I know exactly what . It would help gender issues if it were more clear. What’s the next milestone that we want women to reach that they haven’t yet? What do women today want out of society that their gender prevents them from having? It’s easier to figure out what to do to help.

Came across this passage in my search for more knowledge and clarification.


“Within the movement itself, there are various media outlets, different angles and belief systems. Even within specific websites such as Everyday Feminism, individual feminists can have different viewpoints on the same feminist issues.

Sometimes it’s just hard to get massive amounts of people to agree exactly what the best means to achieving that goal is.

-Kelsey Lueptow
http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/01/feminism-now/

So it’s a part of feminism now to have multiple view points on the same issue and discuss them. Okay. So then feminism is more individualistic rather than a group advocating certain rights. But does that not lead to problems? How can you enact change if everyone has different idea of what they want?

Perhaps someone can help dispel my confusion with a comment. Explain how they see feminism today and what it stands for. If they would be so kind.

So for next time, I hope to finish the post that I wanted to publish last week.

Sitting on a Powderkeg, the Isla Vista Story.

Racism. Misogyny. Poor Parenting. Virginity. Mental Illness. Gun Control. Poor Policing.

When the story first broke, which of these did you point your finger at? You’d have a base to stand on if you selected any one. How easy would it be to push an agenda based on your pre-existing bias? You could as so many already have, make blog posts decrying your selected villain and continue your demonization of them. But you shouldn’t. Because you should be smarter than that.

There is more to this situation than one word or one issue.

When I read the story that a young man stabbed and murdered half a dozen people, two things struck out to me. His age and his father’s position. He had access to more money yet was completely miserable. He was the same age as I was. 22. I’ve spent the last couple days following the news of this story through Twitter and news outlets. I even reading a few snippets from the manifesto created by shooter.

On the one hand, talking about him gives him what he wants. He wanted status and to be noticed.

But still, we should learn from this event and see what went wrong. So we can put out fires before they happen. If they can be put out. I’ll be running through a list of factors that I did not see mentioned all that much.

STATUS OBSESSION

The shooter wanted to be noticed. He wanted to walk into a room and have women fawning over him. He would wear different clothes and hope that a woman would approach him rather than make any active effort. It was the act of being wanted that he most sought. To be that alpha male

MALE VIRGIN SHAMING

There is a stigma against being sexually inexperienced as a man. The older the man becomes, the worse stigma is. Virgins are the last remaining group that it is politically correct to make fun of.

Some are perfectly content and at peace with their status. There are men who are like everyone else. No personality disorders. It just didn’t happen for them.

And then there are the bitter women haters. They blame women for their anguish. But even of these women haters, there’s not a call to slaughter, flay, and kill all women. No seeking of retribution unlike the Isla Vista shooter. He took it personally that he was a virgin.

As stated earlier, this shooter was obsessed with his status and he was a member of an undesirable group.

LOCATION

He was surrounded by the rich. Southern California isn’t exactly known for being the most humble and accepting of faults. From what I’ve gathered, his college was very much a party college. And he was not invited to parties. This elitist area certainly had a factor in forming his ego issues.

RACIAL ELITISM

Our shooter held a deep hatred for his own race and nearly all minorities. He believed blonde women to be the most desirable of women. He thought his status as a half Asian made him better than regular Asians. Yet he would see regular Asians with blonde women. How could this be? Yet another crime that the world had to pay for.

MEGALOMANIA

It’s impossible to determine truth from fiction in his manifesto or the video he posted. I skimmed through it quickly after a person tweeted a paragraph of it. What I could understand what he was in love with himself.

“I am perfect. Everyone should love me.” When that ideal was shattered, he turned to violence.

There was one section that stuck out to me in particular. He had entered the lottery, hoping to win. Everyone enters the lottery for that chance to . We accept out loss. He was so certain that he would win the lottery. As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, he was going to win the lottery. And when he did not win, it was an injustice done to him by society.

Let me repeat this.

He thought not winning the lottery was an injustice done to him by society.

CYBER-BULLYING/BODY IMAGE

A few news articles pointed out that he was a known poster on a body building forum. He declared himself beautiful and sought validation online. Bragging about his facial features and his BMW. This made him a perfect target for cyber-bullies. Some of the comments tossed his way were playful barbs but he took it to heart. Responding with vitriol to even the slightest of disses. His ego was especially damaged when people mocked him for his height and dick size.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Fascinating how though a number of his victims were men, this entire incident sparked a debate on how women live in fear of men. Just something I wanted to note.

I have no clue as to what men’s rights activism has to do with this incident nor why it was ever brought up into the discussion. I suppose it is the perfect boogieman to point your finger at if you already hated them, but nothing more.

I can’t help but wonder if the manifesto is a satire. It’s text book narcissism. From the little I read of it, it comes off as a comic book villain’s origin. If I read it online somewhere without knowing the context, I would have thought it was a joke.

I fear that introverted loners will become even further ostracized because of this incident. They will be seen as ticking time bombs.

Sex would not have solved any of his issues despite his fixation on it. He would have moved the goal post to another object out of his reach. What he needed were societal skills and an ability to cope with rejection. This begs the question. Is our mental health system equipped to help people like the shooter? Do they deserve help? Or was he a mad man who needed to be locked away and kept from others?

I cannot get the words of one of the victim’s fathers out of my head. Seven sons and daughters gone forever due to one boy’s mangled ego. Even more injured. I do not know what more to say about that.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

All of his early problems were solved by throwing a tantrum like a child until someone fixed it for him. Women were the one thing his tantrums could not bring him. He cried for hours after a girl ignored him when he said “hi” to her. And he wanted them to worship him. Women chose “inferior” partners. So he lashed against society. To call him a misogynist misses the whole picture. He was going to murder his own brother for losing his virginity before him. He was a misanthrope to an extreme degree. Seeing people enjoying life enraged him.

His ultimate desire was to destroy love.

Next week, I had hoped to finish a post about my continued fascination and confusion with modern feminism. #YesAllWomen gave me some much needed insight into the plights of the modern woman in Western Society. But I will be delaying this to write a post closer to my heart.

Until next week.

Equality

“All men are created equal.”

Has a greater lie ever been told? If this isn’t the top one, it certainly makes the top ten list. Boy do they ever drill this one into your head. To jostle with this concept jostles the entire foundation of your morals and principles.

Not all men are created equal. Roll with me on this. I’ll show you.

Think right now. Two babies are being born. Both created through the same process. One is born the child of two musical artists, and the other born within a community of starving people. One will have cameras shoved in its face for its life. News sites everywhere will explode when information on the baby’s ridiculous name comes out. People at their jobs will joke around and make sarcastic remarks. The child will grow up not having to earn its living, nor work a job. Despite already having millions, people will toss money at the child to do its own albums when they are of age. There may be a movie made as a vehicle to turn this child into an ever bigger star. The world is thrown at this child’s feet. Their death is as huge news as their birth. People will mourn all over the country for the loss.

And the other will starve to death after two or three days because it was unfortunately born in the wrong place. Not a soul will even remember this baby ever existed.

The same process made them, but can you say they had equal lives? No, but maybe you say that’s not fair to equality. There is a huge discrepancy between a starving child and a famous baby. So here’s another.

Think up two babies again. Both white men. On the outside, they are similar. Both have brown hair, brown eyes. They live in the same town. They grew up together on the same block and went to the same public schools. Hell they might even like the same football team. But one of them has a mental illness. Why? Who knows. Maybe his mother stood too close to the microwave while pregnant. He struggles with it, going through therapy throughout his adolescence and taking daily medication. He has his bad days and his even worse days. He wakes up and doesn’t know how he’ll feel. He could be up, down, angry, sad, energetic, full of love, or suicidal. As he gets older, it worsens. He can’t maintain a serious relationship nor a job. He’s in and out of state help programs. His family loves him, but they don’t know what else to do. It’s a strain on all of them to help him cope well into his old age. The other with a sound mind moves forward. He has his own struggles as we all do, but he knows what he’ll be when he wakes up.

Same race, same town, same schooling, but very different lives, Are they equal? If so how? What does equal even mean? Trying to define the word is good way to give yourself a migraine especially when it comes to people. With mathematics and numbers, it’s fairly simple.

2=2 or 2+2=4

But once you add in people, it’s all messy. Look at this.

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Can you say that the two genders are equal? Your gut feeling says yes of course. But think of it logically. A woman can carry a new person in them for nine months.  We have different reproductive organs and internal make-ups. So then when we want to say the genders are equal, what are we talking about? On what scale do we consider people equal?

Not by weight. Not by height. Not by any sort of physical appearance. Not by wealth. Not by intelligence. Not by where you live or where you’ve been. Not by who your parents are or who you know.

Is it our potential? Our capacity to reason? These are the two that come closest in my humble opinion. We believe all people have potential and have a capacity to reason. So they should be treated the same. Although people say this, rarely are people treated equally.

Do you treat a homeless man asking for money the same as you would your father if he asked? No. They have the same want, similar biology, maybe even the same age. But for one, you keep moving on your way, trying hard not to make eye contact and for the other, you reach for your wallet. Because of your judgement.

When I think of equality, I think of any activist group, advocating for more rights for an oppressed minority. They all have the same mantra, we deserve this because humans are equal. Where did they get this idea from? I hope it wasn’t from the Declaration of Independence, written by a group of men who owned slaves. Slaves who according to these men were three-fifths people, the very antithesis of equal. Historically equality amongst all humanity hasn’t ever happened. Unless you go way back to before we could read and write. Those years that historians won’t ever be able to piece together. Maybe you could try and say before our brain developed into what it is today, we could have been equal. Were we equal as cavemen? Could we even grasp the concept then?

But to get back to those groups, I have a question.  Will these groups ever find the day that their work is done? When they can walk away knowing that equality has been achieved. Can it be achieved? Do we want to know the answer to that question?

If it can, then how? How can true equality be reached? Where all men and women regardless of who they are, what they look like, who they love or who they hate, have the same opportunities and are treated the same across the board?

That day can’t come. We are all different. We can’t be equal.

There’s this line in A Time to Kill that sums up this conundrum.

“When you look at me, you don’t see a man, you see a black man. “

We will never be another person to each other. Colorblindness is unachievable.  We see the differences and we judge. Even if we couldn’t see, we would judge based on our other senses. We categorize and adjust our responses accordingly. We want to put similar things together and separate them from the different. We are wired that way. Judgement is lodged into our brain.

Just like our illogical notion of equality. Funny how they can sit right next to each other in our brains and we somehow function.

The human mind. A peculiar thing.

Still this is no excuse to discriminate against others and treat them differently. We should reach towards that ideal. Even if we can’t ever be truly equal, we can be as close as humanly possible.

Writing the Female Character

Over the past year or so, I’ve been going through some old stories that I wrote during middle and high school.Leia-princess-leia-organa-solo-skywalker-34233178-288-288

Often I did not write stories with girls. In the beginning, it was because they were icky. I wrote stories about guy friends hanging out and getting into hijinks or I copied what I saw in video games or on TV. On the rare occasion that I did write a story with a girl, they were a plot device, a trickster trying to lead my heroes down the wrong path.

Later on, I strayed away from females characters because of a fear of mine. I’m a man. What if I can’t write girls right? Is there some quality to them that might be beyond my grasp?

To further elaborate on this, I’d like to bring up J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. She’s a female writer writing from the perspective of a male character. For the first several books, Harry felt like a guy I could know. But in Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince, there was this moment when Harry’s character first became infatuated with Ron’s sister, Ginny.

“It was as though something large and scaly erupted into life in Harry’s stomach, clawing at his insides….”

The entire description ripped me out of Harry Potter’s vibrant world. I saw the author’s words on page and felt a little revolted at this description of the teenage male’s sexual urges. I cringed every time I came across any descriptions of Harry’s urges. It wasn’t authentic to the experience.

I didn’t want female readers to have that kind of disconnect with anything that I wrote.

To help me get over my fear, I paid attention to the portrayal of women in movies and television shows. I also paid attention to what characters women said felt real to them. One name that popped up a lot as I did some of my preliminary research was Joss Whedon. he is praised for his female characters, however I deliberately made an effort to not watch anything by him. I focused more on what the average writer was putting on the screen for us all to see.

In two back-to-back sports movies that I watched (Miracle/Warrior), the wife of the coach/athlete filled the same role. She was there to support her husband when he failed and she was there to stand as an obstacle to his goals. She was there to remind the audience that the main character had a family to go back to. The wives in these movies were background noise. They weren’t fully realized people. The men were the main attraction.

So after viewing those movies, I thought about television shows or movies where a woman wasn’t in the background and was my favorite character. This was an entertaining and somewhat difficult exercise.

In my first draft of the list, my favorite female characters were all villains.

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Katy Bates in Misery and

One-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoos-Nest2
Estelle Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’m a sucker for great villains.

Next I made a list with women who weren’t so evil. I came up with Lindsey from Freaks and Geeks, Jessica Chastain in The Help, Naomie Harris in 28 Days Later. These were characters that I could sympathize with. As I did these exercises, I came to the realization that I had been a complete idiot in the way I went about writing the other gender. I treated them as if women had this alien quality that put them out of my reach. I overthought this process, much like I do everything else.

The female lens is obviously not the same as the male one. Women have different expectations in life than men. Those expectations have an impact on the molding of their personality.

A few months ago,  I had drafted out a story about a romance between a king and a queen for a screenwriting class. I knew I could write the king so I focused entirely on the queen and what went through her head. I spent twice as much time building her life experiences and her reactions to them. This was a detriment to the other characters.

I handed twenty pages of script in to my professor. This was the intro for a feature length that I’m still working on now. I used the queen for five or six pages. My professor e-mailed me back and urged me to use the queen more because she was by far my strongest character. He was a male professor so his opinion didn’t put me at ease. I needed more assurance that this character would not lead to a disconnect with female characters.

So I came up with an elaborate plot. I had a friend who’s a self-proclaimed feminist. She read lots of books so she knew her way around a story. So I asked her for help with my character. I told her I had no idea where I was going with my queen character. This was a lie. I had already come up with her personality. I gave her the scenario and asked her how she thought a female character in the middle ages would act when given the same scenario. And as it turns out, she described a character nearly identical to my own. I hope that I’m on the right track.

I think to write the authentic female voice, you have to abolish the idea of a strong female character.The term is taken too literally. I’ve seen so much media with kick ass one-dimensional female characters. Their hook is that these girls can get down and dirty just like any guy. You want your female character to come off as human and vulnerable as your male characters, not infinitely perfect in everyway.

Too many writers see their female characters as serving a purpose toward the story rather than allowing those female characters to organically influence the events. This is why we see so many bland subplot romances. The writer knows they want the hero to have a girl and get her in the end. The woman is not given much room to grow. She ends up as a contrast to the main character’s personality in order to maximize conflict and make the relationship seem impossible. After the pair hit it off, they have a misunderstanding over something trivial and then she forgives him. The woman is there to be earned. An issue that I see too often is that the girl is made into the goal rather than the actual relationship.

I don’t hold the opinion that all female characters should be positive role models. During the time that I spent reading feminist blogs on female representation, I’d see a lot of complaints on negative portrayal of women. There are some horrible women out there. You can’t focus solely on the negative, but you can’t ignore that either. Some of my favorite characters are the scum of the earth and that’s why I love them.

Everything I’ve said could be completely wrong. I’m still working out the kinks in my writing theories. I hope to make what was my biggest weakness as a writer (other than starting and not finishing things), into my greatest strength.