Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters

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Fight the good fight, not the dirty one.

Dear womenfolk who want to be taken seriously as citizens, workers, and people of intrinsic value equal to that of any man,

talking about your vaginas is not the way to achieve this.

I mean it.

I don't quite understand why such a significant portion of feminism has driven off into this particular ditch, but it's both sad and perplexing. I blame the Vagina Monologues.

The Vagina Monologues aren't bad in and of themselves, though I have absolutely no interest in seeing the play, but they're an example of the same pointless puerility we see in so many other areas of pop-culture. Claiming that you are a "Vagina warrior" will not make the darker sides of male sexuality go away. You can say the word vagina for 12 hours a day 350 days a year and it won't end rape or sexual harassment or any of the rest of it. It also won't end the glass ceiling, get women into congress, or make men get pregnant. It really really won't.

Now if you're doing puerile chanting for puerile chanting's sake that's fine, toilet humor is great, but as a movement it'd be about as effective as black people holding a "I love my dark nipples" rally.

I've heard all the arguments promoting this sort of behavior. It demystifies the vagina (No it doesn't, good sex-ed classes do that), it forces people to acknowledge the vagina (If you've ever been inside a men's locker room you know that the vagina is well acknowledged at this point), it 'takes back the vagina from those who seek to dominate it via sexual violence and rape (No it doesn't, self-defense classes, better policing of rape, destigmatization of rape, all do that. A "Vagina Warrior" pin does not, unless you stick in the rapist's eye.) There are others of course, among them that it gets attention. The thing is that getting attention for attention's sake is a mark of distinct immaturity. It's what babies do.

Where vagina warrior pins garner good attention it's from people who already agree with the feminist philosophy. To people who are not sympathetic they are just an offensive excuse to delegitimize the movement. I read conservative writing, and clever persuasive (if morally reprehensible and intellectually dishonest) writers like Mike Adams use the puerility to convince people to dismiss the arguments and to get others to do the same. In other words you cut off potential allies through lashing out verbally at your enemies.

Smooth move.

Adams has a few legitimate points. How do you think "Penis warrior" pins would go over with the feminist crowd? Not very well, huh?

What focusing on the vagina does is ghettoize feminism from the mainstream culture. It also bogs it down in a mindset that is no longer congruent with the realities of our society. Are women still oppressed in some ways? Yes. Some of them are biological (periods and pregnancy are not the fault of men) some of them are social (Women are still discriminated against in the workplace and expected to do more work in the home than men are.) On the other hand women now make up a disproportionate percentage of college students and recent graduates, get better grades, and by some measures are better compensated for certain types of work (A never-married woman can expect to earn more over her lifetime than a never-married man with the same qualifications.)

The gaps are closing. That being said those that are still there must be addressed. There are a lot of important issues to fight for on the feminist front. The maltreatment of rape victims that still goes on in our society is a national, and in fact a global, disgrace. We need to work on eliminating workplace sexism (such as symphonies have done to a degree by conducting blind auditions) and rebalancing the load in terms of domestic work. There are lots of ways to get attention for those issues without resorting to rants about genitals.

There's nothing wrong with the vagina, or the word vagina, but sexualization of the public sphere is not in and of itself a good. The sexual revolution was something of a mixed bag in terms of its results. It lead to greater freedom, which is good, but also more STDs, greater numbers of children raised in fatherless homes, teenage pregnancy, and a host of other social ills. Sex is a natural thing, a pleasurable thing, but a dangerous thing and a thing that has consequences as well. We don't need to sexualize everything to make a point. Puerility is not the same as political activism, and not an effective form of it.
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