Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Habits - August 22

Oh dear. It's already Sunday. Well, fortunately the only things I have planned are getting my head the rest of the way shaved, going out to eat, and creating lessons for Journalism I and a schedule for Journalism II. And maybe working on the list of panels I want to go to at NCTE.

No church today, though that means we will probably field some calls this afternoon. I wish I knew where my phone was.

I've been up for awhile reading blog posts and I'm going to go ahead and use one of my comments as the rest of my freewrite. So there. And then I'm going to go brush my teeth because I think I didn't. I did have breakfast - a leftover chicken strip and a roll, and a bowl of oatmeal... and a bunch of candy corn. Not my fault, though; the Hunk left them over here by the computer and they are SO TASTY!!

So I read a post on Courtney's blog about how female geeks tend to self-label, and an earlier one that it linked to. Go read those first, then come back here.

Are you done yet?

Okay. So this is what I said:
I'm sure I'm going to think about this more, but I wanted to go ahead and comment while it was fresh in my brain. (I got here from Courtney's link, btw.)

Labeling female groups as 'girls' tends to be less threatening than 'women.' But what I'm hearing is "oh, we don't want to upset da menz!" and I think there's a LOT more to it than that, though perhaps not consciously.

Part of it is possibly due to the dominant culture's idolization (idealization? maybe both?) of youth. It's like we're trying to balance out the black mark of being female, or saying "being female isn't bad, see? I'm young and cute and fun!"

Additionally, females in ages past had incredibly limited opportunities, and so girlhood today is in many ways about all the opportunities available to females that weren't there before. 'Girl power' stuff often clarifies this - the "girls can do anything!" idea. But as we age, we make choices. We say, "I'm going to do this instead of that." We trade out opportunity for expertise. I tend to think expertise trumps opportunity, but I don't see it being lauded the way it perhaps should be. And of course it doesn't help that expertise in women tends to be valued less than it is in men. :(

But most significantly I take issue with the idea (and I think I felt this more in Courtney's post) that self-labeling as 'girls' rather than 'women' is less subversive. I just flat-out disagree. I think the opposite is true: because the word 'girl' implies less power, it is less openly aggressive, yes. But open aggression is kind of the opposite of subversion.

In the war against privilege (particularly male privilege, in this case) girls are the scouts and spies. They can infiltrate the base and even ingratiate themselves. It is more 'womanly' to challenge a man about a privileged statement by saying "that's misogynistic and hateful;" it is more 'girly' to say "when you posted that, it made me feel bad. I wish you wouldn't."

Both tactics can be effective. And if we want to change the culture, why should we limit ourselves to one or the other?
I'm a feminist, but I prefer to be subversive. In some ways, it's easier: instead of taking a stand ahead of time, you get to bide your time until privilege rears its ugly head to you personally. Of course, there's usually not a lot of time to bide... ;)

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