Thursday, December 8, 2011

Star of Davida Essay Contest Winner: Quin R

This essay by Quin R is one of the winners of the Star of Davida Essay Contest, answering the question "How has feminism changed your life?"

 I am a white, middle class, cisgendered, and heterosexual male. I am also a feminist.

Although I realize that this may seem no small irony, I believe that there exists no contradiction between these statements. Just because I may never suffer street harassment for wearing the wrong shade of red, or be denied access to my birth control prescription because my pharmacist is a practicing Roman Catholic, does not mean that someone I care about will not be, that I cannot know injustice when I see it, or that I will never be a victim of the oppressive gender binary. Perhaps that sounds a bit polemic, but, to me, the kind of thinking that would allow, even now, women to still be paid less than men for the same work is not only morally wrong: It fully assaults common sense. Furthermore, I should not have to experience, let alone witness, intimate partner violence first hand to realize how much it damages not only the victim, but society. If we live in a world where a woman being beaten for insufficiently pleasing her husband is viewed as a social norm or private matter, how far are we from condoning it as a social norm? But, ultimately, my feminism does not merely constitute support for reformist social policies. It is my lifestyle, my worldview, and my intellectual stimulation. I live feminism every day, from the use of “Ms.” when addressing adults, to the way I hold the door for everybody behind me, not just the smart young women with whom I go to school.

Moreover, nothing in my gaze can escape feminist analysis. I cannot even watch I Love Lucy anymore without considering the implications of the fact that Lucy can be seen being repeatedly spanked by Ricky, or that she does not have free access to a “charge plate.” Conversely, however, I have gained a new appreciation for Veronica Mars, for I now realize the barriers Veronica must break not only to gain access to hidden documents and to escape detection, but also to be taken seriously as a blonde teenage female in the middle of suburbia (and she’s on the wrong side of a class war, to boot).

Overall, though, feminist theory impassions my mind. Before feminism, I was unable to discern the subtle connections between the disparate parts of society that create the kyriarchy, or the system of overlapping oppressions that keep us all trapped, and I am finally able to engage with the otherwise monotonous works assigned in my English classes. Given enough time, I can even defend Lady Macbeth on the basis that she lives in a patriarchal society that does not allow women to be powerful in their own right, so she must live vicariously though her husband. I understand that the narrative of this essay is not focused on one particular event or component of my philosophy. But I cannot condense what has become the most basic framework for my thought process down to a neat package. Then again, I do not believe in placing ideas, or people for that matter, into neat packages. For I am a feminist.

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