Dude feminism is apparently a mantra. Who knew? We are constantly finding more fights to fight and this is no different –
I came across an article today that lambasted the anti-slavery campaigns that feature celebrities saying slogans like Real Men Don’t Buy Girls. This is not new. J. Timberlake and Sean Penn have been supporting campaigns such as these for a while now, but the argument itself fueled something in my sense of justice.
This wasn’t because the author thinks trafficking is okay. He knows it is not. It goes beyond mere description of how men worldwide are still an active part of abuse against the female. J.A. McCarroll seem to think the root of the problem is that the campaign language advised that the real men here simply re-instate the age old power framework that privileges the male and the ‘masculine mystique.’
After hearing this argument a few times I wonder if perhaps we are missing the point. Living in Mozambique has caused me to go back a few steps in my lines of thinking. Maybe there is space for reinventing language and old notions of the patriarchy but I think we need to begin with some basics. The actual process of change… it takes a while.
In many African countries, the men simply treat women as disposable objects – the average amount of children a man has numbers around five. The high end of this spectrum is around 12 children in this country. This wouldn’t be such a problem if they could afford to pay for food, clothes and medicine for these 12 kids. But they can’t.
The women take care of these kids alone. Of course I could discuss how this occurs – lack of education is just one problem. I would rather talk about how it just needs to be a part of a different fight. It is more important than the dude feminist fight.
McCarroll talks about how the Real Men Don’t Buy Girls marketing justifies a masculine mystique, despite it being “a kinder, gentler version. By flattering men’s strength and asking them to use it to protect women, we once again place men in the driver’s seat of culture.” Well, McCarroll, is it possible that we may want to begin with stopping a cycle of violence before we go on to newer issues? It isn’t over until it is over.
Aren’t men still in the driver’s seat when it comes to leaving their wives for eighteen year olds and being a part of Nigerian kidnappings of 234 students in one of the most progressive schools for girls? (see here: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/04/boko_haram_growing_militancy_the_nigerian_group_s_crimes_will_not_remain.html)
Yes. Maybe we should take a step back.
I think it is worth showing that men still run the African world. While some nations have made some serious progress for women, such as Ghana and South Africa, there are many who are still struggling with literacy, job creation, sustainability, and equal opportunity.
In the same vein, I would like to ask a new question about the so-called privileged world where we have the time to talk about such complex issues. Is it really men who reinstate old notions of women and patriarchal dominance? I think we have enough on our hands when it comes to how women portray women. Take a look at the TIME cover.
In the same week Lupita Nyong’o graces People as the most beautiful in the world, a pop star is given to us on a silver platter as the most influential. While it is lovely that two black women are on the front covers of important American media magazines, I wonder if what we deem as influential is more about “showing off.”
Who runs the Western world? According to major media reports, it may be Beyoncé . There is something very wrong about this, as National Public Radio subtly suggests, in their treatment of Beyoncé and simultaneous assertion of the importance of Nyong’o. Nyong’o is graceful, intelligent and she looks beyond looks. Knowles? I’m not so sure if she is much more than a (very) good looking face.
I champion the idea that women can begin to assert their equality but can we do so without shaking our short miniskirt into a zoomed-in lens and writing songs about how ‘Pretty hurts’ ? The idea of the female body as beautiful (and generally worth equal to the same) is as old as the notion of cavemen throwing them over shoulders – these are the ideas that continue to suppress progression for both sexes. I know that pop stars have their own ways of showing so-called leadership but …seems lacking.
The video depicts a load of anorexic ladies running in a global pageant but the only thing that comes close to resolving this issue of the pressures of beauty is in the statement “My aspiration in life would be… to be happy.” Although somehow she doesn’t seem quite to believe herself as her fake smile radiates the question.
Am I happy?
If her aspiration in life is to be happy and ‘pretty’ isn’t enough then what is? Her magazine cover has drawn a lot of criticism because of its full-length bikini shot in a sheer not-so-cover up. If she wants to tell us women are independent and strong, and they are beyond ‘pretty’ why does it seem like the messages are so mixed up?
If the driver’s seat of the world could be run by a woman, shouldn’t we be thinking about what we are dealing with, mind and soul rather than how she looks while she’s waving from the front seat?
Bates, Karen Grigsby. “Who Runs the World? ‘Time’ Magazine Says Beyonce.” National Public Radio. 28 April 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/04/28/307178912/who-runs-the-world-time-magazine-says-beyonce
Bates, Karen Grigsby. “Why Lupita Nyong’o’s People Cover is So Significant,” National Public Radio. 23 April 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/04/23/306235499/why-lupita-nyongos-people-cover-is-so-significant
Frydenlund, Zach. “Beyonce Cover TIME’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2014’ Issue,” Complex Music. http://www.complex.com/music/2014/04/beyonce-time-cover
McCaroll, J.A. “The Language of Dude Feminism,” Sherights Blog. 24 April 2014. http://sherights.com/2014/04/24/the-language-of-dude-feminism/
Ornos, Maychelle. “Beyonce at the Cover of Time Magazine for 100 Most Influential People,” International Business Times, 29 April 2014. http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/549949/20140429/beyonce-time-magazine-influential.htm#.U19aK_mSybo