After I wrote that last post, I received an email from one of the profs I really liked who taught one of the classes I really liked reminding me to apply to be a TA for her class next fall. So, thanks for that, Universe.
She and her husband teach in the PhD program at my school and do a lot of research together. I had actually written her asking if she had any spots for a research assistant (she doesn’t). But a lot of their research is gender and inequality in the workplace focused, which is really interesting to me.
I’ve been doing a lot of feminist reading this year and if you are at all interested in the perception of women and what all this over-sexed culture is doing to us, I highly recommend Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas. I read this through the fall and it cemented so many thoughts I’ve been having for years about how our society degraded women by exploiting their sexuality (or, depending on the person, provided them the tools to exploit themselves, all the while claiming – and believing it! – that they are sexually liberated).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-sex. And I don’t agree with slut-shaming. In fact, I don’t really agree with any kind of shaming at all.
I worry about this younger generation of girls that I see in my classes. I try to keep in mind that 21 year olds should not be judged by who they are now as to who they will be, but oh, you guys. It’s bad. They play stupid. Because it’s cute, I think? Go out and drink as much as you want and have sex with who you want and even if you make a couple bad decisions, take the morning after pill or regret those naked pictures you texted that guy you wanted to have sex with that he then put on some weird internet site – these things happen. Everyone (EVERYONE) makes bad decisions and I totally understand (and sympathize with) that. Own your sexuality and claim you’re fighting the double standard, if that’s what you want and how you feel. But playing dumb? Now that’s degrading yourself.
They bat their eyelashes and giggle and I think (hope? pray?) that they’re not really as stupid as they seem, that it must be some joke, a way they figure to get attention. I have zero tolerance for it. I did stupid things as a 20/21/22 year old. I drank too much and had some sex that I regretted and said ignorant things to people and about people. But never, ever, ever, did I ever play stupid.
I feel like grabbing them by the shoulders and giving them a good, hard shake and telling them: It’s going to be hard enough for you out there. People want to squeeze you into a box. They expect you to want certain things, judge you if you don’t. They’ll judge you if you want them but don’t have them, and then, if you finally do get them, they’ll judge the way you handle it. You’ll never be enough. Not thin enough, not pretty enough, very soon not young enough. You won’t be successful enough. You won’t be perky enough or assertive enough or even passive enough. It’s hard out there for women, because we are constantly degraded and attacked. But these attacks come in such subtle ways (magazines for women!) that you have to open up your mind and think for yourself or else you’ll end up beaten down and you won’t understand why or even realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. You have to use your brain, because it’s your most powerful tool. You have to think for yourself, not for Cosmo magazine or for the guy who you have sex with.
It scares me, to see these girls. They seem so… apathetic. I hate when women scorn the word Feminism. They don’t even know what it means. Do you know what it means?
Feminism: Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
Now tell me, who the hell isn’t a Feminist?