Feminism is to Feminst as Woman is to Category
Can it be that Feminism is just another form of oppression by the male perspective that dominates society’s perception of the female body? Can it be that it is simply a category built to exclude and accept this normative society that divides and conquers every time?
We talk about this male dominant society and automatically assume it’s a literal saying, but we don’t realize that it’s much bigger than just men themselves. It’s this whole idea that the male embodiment is superior to anything or anyone else. But in addition to that is this idea that women are even more inferior because we are human and are the competitive form that males must compete with. According to John Berger, women are “born into the keeping of men”. Women constantly are watched by man and must conform to a normative society in which the male is “top dog”. And as a consequence women even become their own spectators, having to watch their every move so that nothing breaks cracks at the boundaries of what the so called male perspective has on women and society—we have to look nice, and not show too much of our bodies, we must not succumb to anger, and we must physically be sanctified, for our bodies belong to men and only men. Although this that I have stated is what the male perspective states in its own hidden agenda, it is clearly and most obviously seen in Feminism. Women fighting for the rights of women doesn’t seem to be that anymore. Feminism has evolved into a fight to stay within the boundaries that the male perspective has set up.
She says that we must fight pornography because it’s just merely another form of the man and his control over the female body, but what if we choose to do it. What can she do or say about women who simply want to use their bodies as a form of income and not be bothered by people who judge, misinterpret and overstate their opinion to illustrate everything as a negative assurance of the male dominance? Feminism, what do I think? I think, ok so our “burial” was “premature”, but we must revive it not, as the way it was, but with all the new ideas and people that want to be a part of the fight against oppression as well. I think we can all agree that in today’s day and age women as commodities is not rare, but we must not fight against women who use pornography as a means of survival, but rather the industry that manipulates that need and exploits it.
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Why should women be ashamed of their bodies? Can a woman be able to present herself as she pleases and not have to worry about what others might think of her? Why is sexual satisfaction a taboo in a society where such satisfaction is “normal” for men and not for women? I thought that “Live Nude Girls United” was the perfect movie to interject here. This documentary on sex work and the difficulties women in the sex performance industry went through to become unionized and still go through, really display what it is that prevents women’s rights to fully reemerge. It is really inconceivable to think of humans being used and manipulated for profit, but when we see it done to women who are in the sex industry, we say or think things like “well they deserve it”. It is difficult for us to accept it a type of career, because we either see as succumbing to man’s power, by allowing man to abuse us, or by giving people permission for people to view women as submissive.
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Titles like “Manhater” are what can be expected from the “Anti-Feminist Troll” I mean it’s difficult to define Feminism as a fight FOR women when in all actuality Feminists don’t fight for all women and they make it all seem as an attack on men. Not to say that men haven’t contributed their own share to this idea of male superiority, for we can all agree that they many men take it literally as well, but no matter what we might think, there is an overwhelming hand that controls our every move and action; it’s not just a woman’s issue. We’re puppets in a puppet show. Things like “He’s a man and this is a woman’s issue” (“Live Nude Girls United”) are statements that mark Feminism as yet another category that is built to exclude.
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“’It is all the more necessary to recognize prostitution as work and improve working conditions for these women. Isn’t it our job to secure a liveable environment where they won’t be exploited illegally, to create a situation where they can network among themselves, and where they can voice their demands, and to help them build up the power to get out of prostitution when they want to? They are not going to accept us as long as we work on the premise that they are victims who are forced into prostitution, something that humans shouldn’t practice, that our mission is to protect and rehabilitate them, that we should abolish prostitution from the face of the earth! That’s simply a nuisance to them. If I were a prostitute I would say to hell with the do-gooders. The situation won’t go away by telling them that they were forced into it and that they are victims.’”
(Group Sisterhood, 1998, 94)
If I had a dime for every time I heard a woman say that using your body as a sexual display was some form of a sin, I’d be…well Bill Gates! I loved this quote in the reading we did called “Meridians” by kempadoo. This was my inspiration for this piece, because it opened minds to the other side of the story. I mean let’s face it for a lot of women the sex industry is an easy income tax return, due to a lack of education in a system that instead of giving you money forces you to give to them. Therefore the question raised above has full credibility. Why is it, that society makes it so hard to live a life of prostitution without persecution? By using persecution as a form of punishment for using one’s body as a sexual object, we fall into the dominance of the male perspective because we accept the title it has given us.
Feminism is a category that although is labeled to carry around all women, confines a handful of them to a stereotype of the saintly woman who cannot utilize her body for sex or any other picture society holds of the perfect woman. It gives the male perspective control of not only how we use our bodies, but of what we define them to be. In other words, we intentionally succumb to the male perspective when we hide our bodies as if they were somehow at risk of falling into the hands of a demeaning label and in the process say that we are weak and not strong enough to understand that our bodies could possibly be taken advantage of. Feminism is not a fight for a women’s rights, but for the right for women to continue being inferior in the eyes of society. We must fight for all women if we are to somehow, somewhere finally find a way to catch up to the dominating control of society.
Kamala Kempadoo, “Women of Color and the Global Sex Trade: Transnational Feminist Perspectives.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism (1,2: Spring 2001): 28-51
Live Nude Girls Unite! (Video). Dir. Julia Query and Vicky Funari. First Run/Icarus Films, 2000 (70 min.)
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books, 1973, 1985.