Few essential reads – For everybody

I had a special weekend challenge ready for today, but I decided otherwise and pushed the post back to draft. It’s been a rather hectic week for me and in the blogosphere too, there were many ups and downs where the ever-returning topic of feminism was concerned. And return it must – as has become very obvious from some of the voices and comment sections I’ve read through (yes Matt, every drop counts!).

I’m not going to write my own personal article here though, on why I think sexism and systematic discrimination are still rampant in our society; how tired I am of derailing discourse; or how I came to hold my current beliefs and outgrew the stereotype of a judgmental geek girl who was only ever friends with boys. Maybe I will one day, but today is not that day.

Today, I want you to do me a favor – whoever you are, wherever, woman or man reading the MMO Gypsy: I want you to go through a shortlist of links to blog articles I consider most valuable, essential reads on the topic of feminism, covering a large ground of recurring questions and potential misunderstandings. I know that every smart and intelligent person is on a private search for wisdom and most of us are honest in their wish to learn and understand each other. I won’t tell you what to think of any of the articles or what you should do with them. All I wish is that they become a consideration, a part of whatever personal outlook and tone you settle for in the future. I promise that they will be worth your time, no matter where you go from here.

Many of these posts have been linked on various blogs this week and they cannot be re-posted often enough. They’re the kind of reads that I send forward to friends and return to when my own words fail me. I often feel that my words fall short and don’t do these matters enough justice, for several personal reasons. However, I’ve been immensely grateful for the strong voices on feminism and gender equality in the blogosphere and many invaluable insights offered over the past years. I have been able to perceive the kind of blind spots within myself I never knew existed. Some of these revelations have made me sad and most have made me very humble. All of them however, have freed me one way or another. Free to make my own choices, more informed choices. I will keep making mistakes but at least more of them will feel like my own.

The following links are me saying thanks to all the thoughtful and relentless bloggers out there, gracefully sharing their insights on complex issues, never backing down in the face of adversity and near-paralyzing amounts of “unpack”. I raise my hat to you.

Essential reads on the topic of gender, social equality and feminism

I’ve taken the liberty to add a few selective “teasers” to what each article may answer and for whom it might be first stop. You should of course absolutely read all of them.

What is feminism? Why are all feminists so angry? What about the men? Please educate me!
Finally, a Feminism 101 blog – A basic introduction and FAQ.
Derailing for Dummies – Tactics to avoid when discussing feminism or anything else for that matter.

What is male privilege and why are you all so negative? I’m new, can you help a guy out?
Feminism for dudes (from a dude) – Indispensable advice for subject rookies.
Dear Apple Cider – An open letter from a male reader. 

Does our society still need feminism? I’m a woman and I don’t see the problem!
FYI, you’re a Feminist 
Oh, we haven’t had a feminist post for at least a month
Feminists all the way down

A restful weekend to all of you – the bold who dare to speak and the wise who know when to listen.

11 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these links, some of them I’ve read already and the rest I will definitely read now.

    Something about the recent debate (and that I’ve noticed in general) that frustrates me is how “feminist” has become such a bad word. I can’t even begin to count the many times I’ve seen people say “I’m not a feminist but I believe in equal rights for both genders”. Newsflash, that means you’re a feminist! Why is it such a horrible word?

    I guess feminists have some sort of stigma to them, and the loudest angriest ones maybe are heard more often. That doesn’t mean that everyone is like that, and it doesn’t make the cause less important.

    Same with the argument of “but what about this that or the other issue in the world”. Yes, they’re horrible as well and need to be worked on. But everyone can’t work on everything. It’s also not a reason to say “well there’s racism still so I won’t bother with feminism while racism is out there”. The one does not exclude the other.

    Sorry, I will stop ranting now. This is just something I care quite a bit about. A few years ago I was just like these naysayers.. but I’ve educated myself and I’ve “switched sides” if you will the past couple of years.

    I wish you a good weekend, and again thanks for sharing the links :)

    1. Hey Saga, thanks for your comment! :)

      It’s been one of the biggest, personal values of blogging for me to find so many like-minded players/geeks and women with such similar biographies as me. I joined with the expectation to find the first but not the second. I’ve never been able to meet a female and say “oh my god, she is just like me!” – only took me 30 years and the internet…

      I echo your concerns for terminology; where I live (and such a modern country it is) using “feminism” is a fast way to freeze all conversation. I think part of the issue is that the word has “feminine/woman” in it, so many men but some women too automatically dismiss it as a concern that has nothing to do with them or is about “those other women” (who are rather annoying – they ask so many uncomfortable questions and say you’re part of an unjust system). as an aside, I don’t know why concerns always have to touch you directly to be of importance, but there you go.

      Another reason might lie in the history of the feminist movement; here people think of the 70ies and women burning their bras on the streets, yelling “don’t shave!”. it was very confrontational and put people on defense. there’s a lot more to be said for the origins of feminism though and even though the 70ies movements were more one-sided in places (to a point where women didn’t feel so free either), at least they got the ball rolling. it’s easy to criticize in retrospective, but the vehemence and extremity at the time was necessary to get any attention at all.

      I sometimes try to use a different term depending on whom I speak to. I’d like to find something with a more all-encompassing sound to it, but it usually falls short (“equalist” doesn’t do either). I’ve seen people talk of “kyriarchy” in similar contexts, but frankly nobody I know has even heard of it…it sounds dauntingly scientific and more complicated than I like it to be. it’s frustrating because language is so important in how/if our messages will be understood. I’d like it to be simple, because that’s what it is – it’s common sense and decency or should be!

  2. Hey Syl, you (hopefully) know that I’m a nice guy, so I hope you won’t hate me for this for more than a week, but…

    I tried to read your links. I really did. I had to give up halfway through. Why? Because I’m a conflict-averse person. I hate arguing, I hate fights. I try to work around them as much as I can. Even if that means not getting my way. I’d rather grumble and leave than fight.

    Leptos said “You will probably be made uncomfortable by some things feminists say, because they’re horrifying.” This, and the fact that feminism is portrayed (rightfully or not, I cannot say) as a constant, everyday, uphill battle just scares me. I grumble and leave. I can’t stand angriness. I understand mentally that there is probably a reason for it, but I just can’t make myself listening to it without cringing.

    That is why, as much as I’d love to, I can’t follow this whole feminism discussion. :(

  3. @flosch

    Thanks for leaving your comment! I don’t know where I might have given the impression in the past of being a love/hate-kind of commenter myself – anyway, you can rest assured that I understand your viewpoint rather well. It’s something I have sympathy for, since we all do this to some degree and I have certainly been there in this particular context.
    However, I still think that the reaction as a whole is wrong and it truthfully fills me with discomfort whenever I read it. yeah you see, what you wrote was uncomfortable for me personally, but that didn’t stop me from reading it, considering it and choosing my words carefully. I hope it’s okay if I make my reply somewhat broader and more general though than what you might have been referring to for yourself (feel free to correct me)!

    I am sad that you gave up on the links I posted in favor of your personal comfort. I’m not singling you out however – generally speaking it’s a natural reaction, it’s human not wanting to hear uncomfortable things, especially if they suggest that somehow we have a part in the “blame”, even a passive part. we cling to the status quo we are born into. I myself struggled for a long time with feminist literature and generally opening my eyes to systematic injustices, both the ones that privilege me (I still have many privileges as a well-educated, white, heterosexual female living in a wealthy country) and those that do not. Such insights hurt and nobody particularly likes being told that they have privileges they do not deserve or that they perpetuate segregation and discrimination by learned behavior.

    That is the gist of what I’m trying to say: the articles I linked can make a reader uncomfortable because the matters they speak of ARE seriously uncomfortable. it’s not their tone, in fact I didn’t link a single article where a person is being angry. but they’re talking about real issues, ugly issues – and that triggers an emotional response. Usually a defensive one at first where the reader rather blames the messenger. But what is discussing cases of discrimination or sexism supposed to sound like? there’s no pink ribbon we can wrap around it. Or as the quoted article says too:

    „Feminism is not aiming to make men feel comfortable while also eliminating sexism. It’s just aiming to eliminate sexism.“

    Now, if just the reading fills you with discomfort, imagine how it must feel to be at the receiving end of sexism every day of your life.
    we have to deal with discomfort or we can never change anything for the better. and even if a person is angry, there may be a very good reason for it and that’s what we should look at. otherwise we are just that: privileged people who can AFFORD to look away. to refuse the information so many people are giving us is self-inducing ignorance.

    And for ME personally, that is just not acceptable. That doesn’t mean I can fight everyday though and I cannot be aware of all the injustice of the world. I get worked up A LOT, I get too tired and need a break. so, I “dosage” how often or how much time I spend on what seems to be such a frustrating and bottomless pit. but I don’t want to look away and deny anymore; and when things make me uncomfortable, it is one more reason for me to look at them.
    That is my choice and standpoint today. again, as I said, I understand yours too (or I think so, anyway) and I don’t condemn it – we cannot all fight the same battles and especially if they make you a target (which feminism does), nobody is obligated to expose himself to such an amount of adversity. I can still hope though; hope that you will find the energy and courage nonetheless to face angry and uncomfortable things sometimes, especially if they happen in your close environment. We can all make a difference there and we are needed. :)

  4. I’m not exactly proud of my reaction. Just not wanting to deal with a problem generally doesn’t make it go away. There are several reasons I have for this. None of them are really good reasons.

    One of them is a sort of stasis. You know the feeling that, when you have so much work to do that you don’t know where to start, you might not do any of it at all. It’s similar with social issues: there are so many, where to start? Though I think people that do choose a cause and fight for it are to be lauded.

    That ties in with the next point: what difference can I personally make, anyway? Yes, that’s a hallmark cop-out argument, but I tried to fight for issues before, went on demonstrations against anti-privacy laws, etc. It didn’t make a difference in the end. Why fight if you’re gonna lose anyway? I’m just tired of fighting social battles I’ll probably lose anyway. Again, people that continue fighting, more power to them! I’m just disillusioned these days; maybe that will change again eventually.

    What I _can_ do is start small. I can try not to be sexist and racist myself. I think (at the risk of sounding presumptuous) I got that reasonably down (though I’m aware that there’s always room for improvement!); at least often enough, “guy comments” of one or the other sort make me cringe. I won’t even think about what I read can supposedly happen in games if the wrong kind of idiots is around.

    Finally, the part about anger was not about you personally! I was thinking about the part where Leptos says: “There’s a time for diplomatic tone, but it’s really not your place to suggest when that time is.” That very much depends on what the goal is. I personally don’t listen to people being angry. So if the person who writes the text (or worse: talks about it) comes off as confrontational, he or she shouldn’t be surprised if the result is loss of interest or even opposition. Nobody likes being shouted at; it doesn’t invoke confidence, either. That’s where the “you’re not the first one to have brought up this argument, and your discussion partner is sick of it after the 25th time” goes both ways. Yes, I understand one might be sick of it, but getting angry about it means that whoever you discuss with doesn’t know as much as you, will probably take a bad impression from the encounter, and may even become a “lost cause”. Nobody likes being shouted at.

    1. I agree with that last part – there’s a tone one can set that helps reaching the other person and one should strive to find it. there is however also the other side: a listener can be benevolent; he can be understanding of the other person’s anger. he can understand too maybe, that often the anger is not directed at him, but at “things”. he is in fact not shouting at you, but at things. I think generally, many people choose the easy way out when they criticize tone in an argument; there’s such a thing as being over-sensitive when it suits you, especially when the topic makes you uncomfortable. so, I just want to point out that there are always two sides to successful communication. :) if someone comes to me that has a “full heart” as we say here, I tend to let him speak and listen. I have a thick skin that way and it’s probably also my professional background. you’d be surprised how fast a tone can come down if you choose for a minute or two to let them rant and take them seriously. but I consider these advanced listening skills, if I may say so.

      Your other points are all very understandable too and you have no reason to feel ashamed – you’re aware of them. as I said before, we all feel this way. we feel the overwhelming size of the issue, we don’t know where to start or what difference we can make. it’s human. but I have seen how much difference one can make just by being vocal; living by example; being a person to come to for those around you. if you manage to touch one person, or help one with some advice – that is already a lot. imagine it goes on from there, he will go on and touch somebody in return, someday. it’s like a snowball system. every ball counts, because the big picture too is made up by lots and lots of little dots in the end.

      so yes, all we can do is start small and we shouldn’t dismiss that power. I know how much such intelligent and interesting discussions have helped me grow in the past, yes that includes our blogs! :)

  5. Hey, I’m going to head into the kitchen. Can I make you a cheesecake or a sandwich?

    ^^

    (Actually, cheesecake sounds really good right about now)

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