Friday, February 22, 2008

B.Meyer's Backlash Against the Backlash Against the Women-Folks

Susan Faludi had a point to make. And, yes, Reagan is to blame for a lot of things (and Bush and Clinton and Bush). I found Faludi's arguments to be very refreshing and common sensical--yes, a lot of things we see on TV are not representative of the larger crowd. I cannot find anything at all wrong with this, or these, articles, except the dubious claim of overkill--but in plain sight of this severe backlash against feminism and women in general, I find it very adequate.
She elucidates so many under-the-surface issues and behind-the-scenes actions that we as digestors of popular culture and media are unaware of. Some things that we DON'T see on TV or read in newspapers are just, plainly, unknown to us. Although we attempt to understand that "radio and TV--poison," as rapper Nas said it, we still are affected by what we see, and absent the appropriate counterbalance, and as male participants in this sexist culture, we sometimes tend to believe it, though we don't want to, or succumb to this persistent popular culture. Understand, there are no objective observers. We are all participants within this culture.
Thus, a lot of things that Faludi attempts, and succeeds, in discrediting are things I actually thought had some tinge of truth. Such as: career women succumb to negative psychological effects; feminists are a bit cold-blooded; infertility is rising--blame the women; women are hungry for sex/men, etc. Although I would usually argue against this being a majority of all cases, I would, in the deeper part of me, believe that at some level these statements are true. Therefore, her elucidation on these matters--especially considering the vast, almost conspiratorial efforts by popular media and Hollywood to push the women back in the kitchen--and knowing these to be already racist/sexist institutions--convince me of the larger issue at hand. Which is male insecurity.
Enter Wabash.
What got me was the almost subconscious, paranoid response of the fundamentalists and politicians and psychological ramifications on males involved in this system. Men are so frailly insecure that to have the women step out of the tungsten-thick definitions of reality, the fragile box of reality created for women, would upset the system in its entirety. Even disregarding facts, common sense, plain knowledge, experts who actually know what they're talking about. Our definitions of manhood are so sensitive that even a slight deviation from this mandatorily uncontested "norm" would leave us blubbering, shivering in a corner, writing suicide notes. And so, there stands the grey elephant we call Wabash.
Honestly, we really cannot ignore its presence in the room, i.e., all-male institute, i.e., fragile male self-identification. What I'm trying to point out is our history as a College and the reaction at the mere thought of allowing women in. How much of our lives have been constructed on the perception--covert perception, sometimes overt--that we are in fact dominators, or in some sense in charge or should be by some societal hierarchy. Until the question is asked, the answer won't be provided. In order for the question to be asked, one has to accept the possibility that the system we find ourselves in is in fact sexist--not only that, but as benefitors of this systematic sexism, what is our participation and in which ways do we either fight this or support this? These questions I pose, I guess, are not actual questions to be answered because they're deeper questions that take a long time to answer--rhetorical tools then. My point is, the psychological, widespread backlash that feminism received in Faludi's article's time (late '80s-early '90s I'm sure) is still very much persistent in our times, and we can see this by looking at our pop culture and asking ourselves very honest questions.
I found Faludi's arguments to be eye-opening and at the same time unsurprising when I really thought about it.

1 comment:

JohnHenry said...

I think the points here are well said. We are beginning to see within our society the same problems with violence. The same "poison" that afflicts us through the media, in the portrayal of women, affects our culture in our abundant portrayal of violent images. Due to the ever increasing number of over the top violent scenes and situations within television, movies, the news, etc. and the fact that this violence is often glorified within these mediums, has begun to show even more frequently in the most pliable minds of the youth in American. This can be seen in the increasing number of school shootings and violent crimes. In the same respect, the sexist and violent images are both indoctrinated through social acceptance of their portrayal.