14 April 2008
Anti-Feminist Bake Sale
This morning, I was shocked at something so disgusting and perverse , I could not understand its place at an institution of higher learning. On the steps of the education building sat three girls at a card table, with a sign that said “Anti-Feminist Bake Sale.” No joke.
Certain that these girls who happened to be attending college were secretly feminists at heart, I decided to engage them in a conversation about how feminism has, in fact, enriched their lives.
The girls agreed that, were they married, they should have legal control over their own money (as opposed to their husbands). They were all registered to vote, and did vote regularly. We agreed that women should be able to serve on juries, and the right of a woman to divorce an abusive husband and press charges. After finding so much common ground, I pointed out that we all have the feminist movement to thank for these basic rights.At this point in our conversation, a few fellow activists joined the talk. We unanimously decided that, in spite of the offensive sign, the girls were actually big proponents of feminist ideals! In spite of their affiliation with the College Republicans (that’s right- the same group who brought you “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” and speakers like Ted Nugent and Dinesh D’Souza) these girls clearly believed in liberal feminist ideas. We suggested that they change their sign to something more tolerant, like “Exploring Differing Feminist Ideas,” Why? Because they were protesting the radical feminist agenda, which aims to destroy family values by encouraging women to enter the workforce. I was then handed a flyer with six different quotes, featuring “feminazis” from Betty Friedan to Margaret Sanger.
Unable to deal with the random assortment of outdated, out-of-context quotes, I allowed the f-bomb to distract me from the issue at hand. “You know, feminazi is a term coined by Rush Limbaugh to put down assertive women, smack us back into place. It is a misnomer, and does not accurately describe contemporary feminisms.” At this point, one girl admitted that she liked Rush Limbaugh, and only watched Fox News- never CNN. Personally, I feel that if you want to wallow in the lies and propaganda championed by Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch, you are too indoctrinated already; I am not going to waste my time arguing. Plus, I had to get to Environmental Soc. After my afternoon classes were finished, I wouldn't help visiting the bake sale again. However, this time I saw surprised and delighted by what I saw there. Dozens of people spontaneously arrived to protest the College Republicans tasteless stunt. In addition to members of Amnesty International, College Democrats, the Organization for Women's Issues, Transcendence, and Vision had arrived, as well as many people I had never seen at progressive events. Some held homemade posters bearing catchy slogans like "Anti-Feminism is Half-Baked" and "Not all Feminists are Women." Others gave out free candy to feminists and allies (unsurprisingly, the pro-feminists had a much wider variety of sweets to choose from), in a stroke of PR brilliance that quite peacefully divested potential funds from the bigoted bake sale. It was truly inspiring to see so many people from all different backgrounds come together in support of feminism.
The College Republicans need to do some research next time. As a Women’s Studies major, I have met many wonderful feminists in my day, and I have read the work of many more. I have never heard of a feminist who wanted to force all women into the workplace. Feminists do not want to “destroy the family” or devalue motherhood. Contrary to popular belief, we do not even hope to replace the patriarchy with a matriarchy. And no matter what Ann Coulter says, we do not hate men. The goal of contemporary feminism (and I really should say “feminisms,” because there are many schools of feminist thought, from liberal or socialist to radical or even lesbian) is simply to ensure that all people have a voice in society, regardless of their gender, race, class, ability, and so forth. We want to make sure all people- women and men- are able to make their own decisions based on what is best for them. A true feminist would never restrict another person’s ability to choose for him or herself.