Posts Tagged ‘Feminist Men’

Floss a Backbone, Gargle with Feminist Mouthwash & Don’t Just Brush off Gender Inequality

Of the many university courses I took years ago, my psychology of women class is one of the handful that really stood out. It wasn’t just about memorizing facts and studying to get good marks on exams. After hearing what the professor had to say in lectures and after reading my textbook, I found myself getting worked up over things I once blindly accepted.

Like much of the general public, I had thought that feminism was a bad word. The stereotype of a butch man-hating woman who was hairy, pushy, and obnoxious had sadly been held by me, my friends, parents, and co-workers. We had succumb to the media’s depiction of feminism.

Being a feminist didn’t seem positive at all. Who were these women? What kind of chip did they have on their shoulder that they felt the need to fight all the time? And anyone who called herself a feminist was bound to be ridiculed and challenged (much like labeling yourself a vegetarian, as I discussed in a previous blog post). Why stigmatize yourself?

Then I learned that feminism wasn’t always about putting women ahead for the sake of being women – it was about making a positive difference in the world for women, yes, but also for men. It was about taking women seriously as intellectual individuals and not just as sex symbols. It was about standing up for women to earn equal pay in the workforce. It was about smashing the glass ceiling so society could enjoy some fresh air.

The English author, literary critic, journalist, and travel writer, Cicely Isabel Fairfield (aka Rebecca West) was quoted as saying, “I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

Yet somehow feminism’s name got tainted in black tar. It became the butt of many sitcom jokes. In fact, feminism got such a bad rap that even women came to associate it with all things negative.

One day I wanted to do an informal experiment to see just how skewed people’s understanding of feminism really was. I asked a bunch of people in my classes (who weren’t in my psychology of women class), “Are you a feminist?” To my surprise (and disappointment), every single person I asked (female or male) had a strong, adverse reaction to the question. They all immediately exclaimed, “No!” A few made looks of disgust as though I had insulted them.

My next question: “Do you believe that women who have the same expertise, education, and experience as men should get paid less for doing the same job?” All of them said no and that they should earn the same amount because that’s what was fair.

When I told them that their answer was feminist, I think it threw them for a loop. They clearly didn’t want to be labeled as a feminist, but they held feminist beliefs. It was obvious now that the problem with feminism wasn’t that people didn’t believe in its tenets, rather its skewed definition.

My theory for why feminism got such a harsh reputation: people were intimidated by the thought of women challenging the status quo, asking for more (which actually was just what they deserved), becoming independent, and working their way up to attain positions of power.

The established patriarchy was under attack! How could they lessen the blow and discount the protests from this growing movement? Ridicule it – make cheap shots at it every chance you get. Turn it into a caricature. And it worked. Even women with university education were refusing to call themselves feminists!

Let’s spread the word – feminism isn’t a bad word. It’s empowering, hopeful, and our future. Get rid of ill-conceived stereotypes that prevent us (women and men) from moving forward.

Anyone can be a feminist. Even men. (Being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re feminine.) You can come from any walk of life. You can be feisty, introverted, pretty, ugly, young, or old. Feminism doesn’t discriminate. People against feminism discriminate.

But you have to remember that feminists are human, too. Some are hypocrites. They’re not perfect. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you’ll always do or say the right thing when it comes down to the wire. Being a feminist doesn’t make you a good person. Being a feminist makes you want to strive to be a better person. Whether or not you reach your goal is another story.

Are you ready to hop on board?

Featured Feminist: Elsie MacGill (Queen of the Hurricanes)

GlockomaFor those times when we want to fold like a bad poker hand, we desperately need inspiration to help us realize that we can pull ourselves out of the quicksand.

Inspiration can hit you between the eyes when you’re not looking (or even when you are). And now it’s gonna be aiming for you. Don’t worry – it won’t hurt. Actually, it’ll feel really good. And it doesn’t reek of rotten tomatoes.

I’d like to introduce you to the latest addition to Glockoma. Featured Feminist is a section I’ll use to post true stories about modern women and famous women in history who exemplify what feminism is all about. This will include writers, inventors, politicians, and  musicians, just to name a few. Feminist messages that help the women’s movement advance are everywhere if you look for them.

Since I believe in a school of feminism that encourages the involvement of and interaction with men, you’ll sometimes read about feminist men in the Featured Feminist section. This is very important to me because in all forms of media, we’re shown male chauvinist pig after male chauvinist pig – it gets more tiresome than a drunk pick-up line.

Let’s get to our very first profile!

GlockomaElsie MacGill

Nickname: Queen of the Hurricanes

Birthday: March 27, 1905

Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

Claim to Fame: First woman in the world to design an airplane

Why You Should Care: She paved the path for many women in a field that is traditionally dominated by men. During WWII, she developed, designed, and tested aircraft as an aeronautical engineer.

And, according to Wikipedia,  she was the first woman to achieve a lot of other impressive things, too:

  • 1927 – First Canadian woman to earn her electrical engineering degree (University of Toronto)
  • 1929 – First woman in North America to earn her masters degree in aeronautical engineering (University of Michigan)
  • 1938
    • First woman elected to corporate membership in the Engineering Institute of Canada
    • First woman to hold the position of Chief Aeronautical Engineer (Canada Car and Foundry)
  • 1946 – First woman to be the Technical Advisor for the International Civil Aviation Organization
  • 1947 – First woman to chair a UN committee (She was the chairperson for the United Nations Stress Analysis Committee.)
  • 1953 – First woman outside the United States to be named Woman Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Women Engineers (She also was made an honourary member.)

Glockoma

GlockomaSome Other Awards & Recognition

  • 1941 – Gzowski Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada for her paper entitled Factors Affecting the Mass Production of Aeroplanes
  • 1967 – Centennial Medal from the Canadian government
  • 1975 – Amelia Earhart Medal from the Ninety-Nines
  • 1979 – Gold Medal from the Ontario Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1983 – Inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame

GlockomaWhy I Consider Her a Feminist

All of the above already indicates that she’s clearly a fighter who came ready with her boxing gloves. And I bet they weren’t pink.

Well, there’s more to the story that illustrates her strong drive to succeed despite the obstacles.

Case in point: the doctors told her that most likely she’d be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life after she got polio. But did she take the news sitting down? No. Instead, she taught herself how to walk with the support of metal canes.

And doctoral studies weren’t cheap. Don’t think that she got handouts for her education. During that time, Elsie MacGill financially supported herself by writing articles for magazines about planes and flying.

GlockomaWhy She’s Known as the ‘Queen of the Hurricanes’

When she worked for Canada Car and Foundry, she was chosen to build the Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force. She also came up with new ideas for how to winterize the aircraft.

GlockomaElsie MacGill Was a Feminist Activist

In the 1960s, she focused on women’s rights issues and was the president of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. In 1971, she received the Order of Canada for her work as a member of the Ontario Status of Women’s Committee.

(The Order of Canada was concieved in 1967 to “[recognize] the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians, through life-long contributions in every field of endeavour, and who made a major difference to Canada, as well as the efforts made by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions.”)

Elsie MacGill seems to have been a proud and vocal feminist, which I think is important. She was quoted saying, “I have received many engineering awards, but I hope I will also be remembered as an advocate for the rights of women and children.”

It frustrates me when some women are afraid to call themselves a feminist because they’re too lazy to deal with any societal backlash to the often-stigmatized label. Kudos to the Queen of the Hurricanes for not shying away. May we all be so brave.

Everything great eventually comes to an end. But this is just the beginning…

The fruition of this feminist blog has been a long time coming. It’s now ready to be plucked from its branch and shared.

First and foremost, my goal is to stimulate healthy discourse and to motivate people to challenge the status quo. Second, I hope to connect the dots between ideologies of female empowerment and practical applications of feminist theory.  In an allergy-free nutshell, I want to build upon my current beliefs and to become inspired by others.

Everybody’s welcome here.

Inspired by the women’s movement? Know of some great books by feminist women and feminist men? You’ve got my undivided attention. Come join the hot debate on gender and inequality.

Together, we will define what is feminism.

As a woman living in what James Brown called ‘a man’s world’, I know how easy it is to let the chauvinist bullshit we digest on a daily basis eat away at our core like a corrosive chemical. That’s what happens when we internalize too much and don’t try hard enough to find solutions.

In this feminist blog, I’ll take a firm stance and voice my concerns about the traditionally-accepted patriarchy. Along the way, I’ll share proactive ways to counter negative influences on women. After all, nobody likes a chronic complainer who sits around all day pointing their cranky cane at everything left, right, and center.

I will tell it like I see it – no Little Miss Manners here. While I’m not one to run my mouth with profanity like diarrhea, on occasion, you will stumble across some swear words. If that offends you, clearly you’re reading the wrong blog.

I also won’t play you for a fool – my opinion isn’t the be-all, end-all. No pooping plastic here, Barbie. I trip over my words like I sometimes do my feet. But hopefully this personal (yet public) exploration into the realms of feminism will help me (and others) define what it means to be a modern woman dealing with modern dilemmas.

Let’s give them something to glock about!

Feminism

But before I pull the trigger of my e-glock and target reasons why the fabric of society could use a good washing, I feel it necessary to clearly outline what feminism is and what it isn’t. Seems like there is such a strong and widespread misunderstanding that it turns people off right from the get-go.

According to Dictionary.com:

Feminism

[femuh-niz-uhm] – noun

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

Now, let’s be clear. There are many different sects of feminism just like how there are many different denominations for religion. Lumping everything under one umbrella is like squeezing that 14th clown into the Smart car – it stinks!

In my feminist blog, this is not the type of feminism I promote:

  • Man-hating
  • Choosing the woman over the man in every scenario

Finally, are all feminists lesbians with short gelled hair? No, but some are. Anyone (female, male, lesbian, gay, bi-curious, asexual, transgendered, hermaphrodite, Yankee fan, glue sniffer, etc.) can be proud to call themselves a feminist. It’s more a way of thinking than it is about appearances. And as we both know all too well, appearances are definitely deceiving.

With all of the above said, we can continue.

Welcome, dear reader! I hope you follow me as I put my personal stamp and sarcasm on social norms, pop culture, and everything else we take for granted. This is my feminist lens, and I hope it helps you see clearly.

Okay, I’m ready to glock!

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