Monday, June 16

Full Frontal Feminism

I just finished reading Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism..and have a few quick thoughts:

1. She swears too much. I don't care if that's the way she talks, I don't like that there is soooo much profanity in her book. It's one thing to use F*** and other words occasionally, or when quoting others, but I think it's in there way too often. I don't care that it's not ladylike, I care because I think using 'bad' words don't add anything to the dialogue. I do not feel any less or more empowered because a certain sentence is peppered with f*** and damn etc.

2. Apparently religious people are all freaks. As someone who works for an inter-faith reproductive justice organization, I found it frustrating that she spent so much time talking about how 1st and 2nd wave feminists disenfranchised so many groups of potential allies, to then go on and lump all people of faith into the 'anti-choice crazies category.' In one section she talks about the Quiverfull movement, which values a traditional patriarchal Christian home and as many children as god chooses to give. They eschew all forms of birth control, even the Catholic-revered rhythm method and consider EC, and hormonal contraception the same as abortion. While she spends some time ridiculing this movement, there is no mention of some other religions or faiths that value feminist values of equality within partnerships and the ability of individuals to make reproductive decisions.

3. I really liked her discussion of all things non-feminist, and her reaction to criticism by others. For example, she states several times that she likes wearing makeup and will not stop wearing it, despite the fact that she knows that there is a lot of context (ie women must make themselves pretty because their value lies in their ability to please others..). She explains that recognizing why you do things, and the intentionality are really important. Thus, even if you watch shows like ANTM, it's OK as long as you recognize that the program relies upon stereotypes and the objectification of women. While you might find it necessary to protest particular episodes, you don't have to be ashamed of enjoying something that doesn't fit in neatly with your idea of feminism, as long as you can understand why this is the case. I don't think she's trying to give us all a free pass to ignore our principles, but instead to be aware of when you are in conflict with some personal beliefs and making a cognizant decision.

4. I am now a little ashamed of my love of all things wedding related. Valenti makes some really interesting points about the way we celebrate weddings has a lot to due with our consumer culture, and not much to do with the celebration itself. I really wish she hadn't also pointed out that engagement rings relate directly to women as property and men as providers ('look, I have something sparkly that proves my MAN makes a lot of money and I'm taken'). My love of all things pretty and sparkly is now warring with my ongoing attempt to figure out my brand of feminism and trying to be anti-consumerism (I'm growing my own food! 2 plants at a time!).

ps. I obviously stole the picture from Amazon.