I’m here to reclaim the F word. No, not THAT word — but rather, feminism. I’m really sick of seeing those glazed over, “oh no, not one of those fema-nazis” looks on peoples’ faces when I mention anything remotely linked to feminism. I’m also wary of people in academia disdaining anything labeled feminist as “ideological fatuous crap.”

I’m just about noticing inequalities and rectifying them whenever possible. I guess that makes me more of an egalitarian than a feminist. I just have this bizarre notion that equal pay for equal work should apply, regardless of whatever sexual equipment you were granted at birth. Likewise, I have a revolutionary idea that in relationships — a woman should be standing beside her man, and not behind. “Head of the household” isn’t granted by virtue of your sex, it’s something that’s dynamic and flexible. It’s not about roles, it’s about relationship.

I’m not asking for special rights, just equal ones. I’m not out to belittle men, or change from a patriarchy to a matriarchy (though both are tempting at times).

Anyway, maybe I’m a bit more riled than normal due to my choice in reading materials. I’m finishing up the latest Ms. Magazine, and one particular article — “The Unreal World: Why Women on ‘reality TV’ have to be hot, desperate, and dumb” by Jennifer L. Pozner.

The last two paragraphs sum it up well:

Apologists claim reality TV isn’t sexist because no one forces these women to appear on these shows. But the impact on the shows’ participants is almost beside the point: The real concern is the millions of viewers, scores of whom are young girls, who take in these misogynistic spectacles uncritically, learning that only the most stereotypically beautiful, least independent women with the lowest carb-diets will be rewarded with love, financial security, and the ultimate prize of male validation.

Perhaps saddest of all, real love is almost wholly absent from these artificial mating dances. What little girl dreams of being whisked away by a callous, egotistical dimwit who sticks his tongue down 15 other women’s throats before he reluctantly settles for her? After all the happily-ever-after buildup, every bachelor has dumped his “chosen girl” shortly after their series wrapped production. That’s the thing about fairy tales … they’re not real. In the end, these programs represent a trivial and depressing depiction of the concept of love itself. The equation Fat Wallet + Skinny Chick = Love robs us all of our humanity, and erases the possibility of true emotional connection.

It’s the subtle things we gotta look out for, in my opinion. Things like Top 40 songs with lyrics that belittle women (And I love your lack of self respect / While you’re passed out on the deck / I love my hands around your neck), TV shows that emphasize your physical inadequacies and subject women to painful (and unnecessary?) surgeries, or simply magazine covers that display women like pieces of meat, rather than human beings.

Just accepting these things as a “part of culture” is unacceptable — and I’ll be the one pitching a fit in the background. You won’t be able to tune me out.

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