Reflections on I Need Feminism Because… 1

(Possibly part of an ongoing series.  Stay tuned)

Beginning this I had thought that it should be, “I am a feminist because…” primarily because feminism has been on my mind for the last several years probably without placing the label on it, and quite possibly due to the roles that my grandmother and my aunt have played in my life.  My life is an evolutionary process and, thus, I am learning, and programming thoughts in my life on a daily basis.

So the fact is I need feminism because, I become irritated and angry when human beings are treated as inferior because their socially constructed gender, race, or “acceptable” or “unacceptable” appearance does not conform to the so-called majority.  I need it because my grandmother and my aunt were THE strong and intelligent family leaders in my immediate and extended family, and my father, who immigrated from a heavily male-dominated society, Italy, was the most obvious sexist in my life.  Juxtaposing those two contrasts disturbed me enough to think about equality and feminism without placing a label on it until later

For me, the subject of propaganda will come up many times in this class, because it is a subject that fascinates me as a neutral term, rather than a negative one.  It is the intention and the effects that can be either positive or negative.  But I also see a very strong relation between feminism and propaganda texts (either feminist or sexist, but primarily sexist) used within advertising, television programming and motion pictures, newspaper articles and op-ed pieces.  Make no mistake that I see the overt propaganda in all media, but the sexist textual context is something I obviously need to learn more about, so yes, I need feminism because. The conversations that I have with friends and acquaintances and conversations that I overhear where human beings are prejudged as either superior, equal, or inferior based on part or all of their appearance kept me silent but disturbed until recently when I have reached the end of my patience, which can only turn me into a better activist for equality.  People who assume the inferiority of a person based solely on their gender, color, and body modifications particularly disturb me.  The psychological effects can be debilitating and superficially unnoticeable.

My best friend is the most intelligent person I know, and she is a woman.  Does it matter? Yes, to me, especially when I hear phrases like, “You’re pretty smart for a girl/woman/some-other-derogatory term for a woman. But that term has always disturbed me because of the influence of my grandmother and my aunt. The recent Disney discussion was particularly enlightening because I have been moderately aware of the stereotypes that have been employed in their films, while still being captivated by much of the music from several eras of Disney films.

I still believe that most propaganda rags (magazines, news media, television, and most film) are designed to distract rather than deeply inform so the fact that the texts used revert to stereotypes of one stripe or another does not surprise me.  The texts are lazy but the short-handed and shortest distances between two points.  The point in this case is the easiest means to sell product without confusing the media’s favorite consumer, “the lowest common denominator”.  The additional point is that white men head most advertising agencies and corporations.  I wonder what would happen if a boycott was directed against all of these corporations, media, programming, and any other consumer good that engage in such short-sited practices.  With the right force of propaganda campaign behind it, I believe that it would force the most egregious powers that be to realize that they should begin representing people as they really are rather than representing them as they never existed.

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