Sunday, November 4, 2012

is there such a thing as a conservative feminist?

I don't always title my blog entries, but do please notice the date, specifically the month. Yes, that's right; it's NOVEMBER! The pink insanity is over. Who is in line to be sexually exploited to new levels for November? Turkeys maybe. Though isn't it generally the Toms getting slaughtered for Thanksgiving? What,  some are HENS? AND they have BREASTS??? Surely time for some turksploitation. Fowlsploitation as opposed to the FOULsploitation of last month?

I actually have been wanting to write something about me. I know, I know; they're always about me, and my aches and pains and inconveniences. I mean about who I am, and to share some over thinking that I've done recently.

This pondering came up when I wondered the last time I wrote if I sounded feminist. And I had to think even harder when comments from the general public on a couple of recent articles revived the negative connotations that can attach to the word. You know, trouser wearing, cigar smoking, using the men's restroom, militant, never satisfied, always grumbling...

Wait a minute...militant may be just what we need. The opposite of pink and fluffy wearing feather boas. Not  being satisfied until positive change is made, and grumbling until it gets done, not about doing it, but about the nay-sayers and pinkers, the non-transparent charities, and those who continue to sexualize the disease of breast cancer, and women in general.

I think that sexualizing breast cancer does  the cause no good. I believe that the sexualization of women is something that we, as humans, really should have gotten past by now. Our foremothers fought hard for the right to vote. Our sisters in arms fought for equal pay for equal work. (still some work to do on that one, even in the White House.)

I believe that when discussing breast cancer the statistics should be reported as happening to women and men. (not vice versa- see the aforementioned last time I wrote) I was thrilled to see, very shortly after the wording of "men and women" stuck in my craw, that it seemed to have been stuck and spit out of the craws of many others. I was thrilled when, within days of my post, everything I read started saying women and men with regard to breast cancer. 

I'm not claiming that my little rant was the catalyst for that change, but I do believe that I was single handedly,  one encounter at a time, able to teach an entire group of commuters, over a period of time, how to properly and politely merge from a tricky on-ramp to the freeway. The group with whom I commuted had become safer and more polite by my example and tough love. It can be done.

That's what I choose to believe. 

So who am I? I am a conservative Christian. I am a Mormon, in fact; a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don't wear my hair in a bun, and we don't all dress alike. Well, the men sorta do, but their options are more limited, fashionably speaking. We don't practice polygamy. There are those who label themselves feminists within the Mormon faith. While I relate to and agree with a lot of what they say, I'm not comfortable jumping into that label, even within a conservative organization. 

I'm not a right-wing extremist. That term is not synonymous with conservative Christian. I try to be tolerant of others, loving to all. I try not to judge others, because that's not my job in this life; my job is to love others. Jesus said so when he was here. I am not perfect at this, because I am easily annoyed and tend toward slight arrogance when dealing with stupidity, and indignation when dealing with meanness. I wouldn't be comfortable with the term Liberal Mormon, because, even though I might have some liberal views within the church, I am not politically Liberal, and therefore eschew that label as well.

I believe in the Constitution of these United States.

I believe that woman are created as equals to men. I do NOT believe that they should be treated the SAME or EQUALLY (see the men's restroom comment above), or even have the same responsibilities in some cases. Women can do anything a man can do, but we don't HAVE TO. Men still aren't having babies, and women still don't have penises. We are equals, but we are not the same. 

I am Pro-Life. Either the other pro-lifers in the breast cancer community are far quieter about it than I am, or I'm the only one. Any discussion this past month about breast cancer treatment, always moved to women's health, then women's rights, then inevitably devolved into the abortion issue. It is the hot-button topic of our time, which divides the masses. 

I am glad that Komen's funding disparities have come to light. That needed to happen. Their halo needed to be knocked a little further off center. But I'm pissed that it didn't happen until it came down (in a round about way, really) to the abortion issue. 

I worked for a woman once who was a little loony, IMHO. She did crazy things to me and sometimes really treated me badly. She called a surprise meeting with higher-ups to berate me for various things the Monday back to work after Labor Day, over which weekend I lost all my hair due to the chemo therapy I was currently on. It was my first day out in public, in my work place with no hair. She made me feel crappier than I already felt, on a day when I needed support. That wasn't the sh*ttiest thing she ever did to me, or to others, and she'd even done some ethically questionable things in the business. But the thing that finally took her down was a comment that she made to a coworker, not even with malice, that was construed as racist. That got her marched out of there without even a meeting or a disciplinary write-up. 

What about me? What about all the hell she put the rest of us through, for years? It apparently didn't matter, until hindsight, after pushing the social hot-button of racism.

The masses didn't believe those of us in the cancer community when we said Komen were no angels, that their practices needed looking at...until they pushed the socio-political hot-button of abortion.

I am Pro-Life. Being Pro-Life makes me anti-abortion. It does not make me anti-choice, as I saw pro-lifers labeled in an otherwise compelling article. I'm sure that same author would not appreciate being called "anti-life" any more than I appreciate being called "anti-choice".

Everyone has free choice, free will, the agency, or the right, to act as they deem appropriate or desirable. 

I have the right to choose to stab my neighbor in the neck with a screwdriver for playing loud music late at night, but that's not legal. It is my right to choose that course of action, but not with impunity.  

There are laws against actions that society has deemed unacceptable, dangerous, and harmful to others. When we choose to live in country, we choose to abide by its laws. That is not to say that citizens don't have the right to work to change laws, but breaking existing laws has consequences.

Laying tacks in that noisy neighbor's driveway behind his pick-up, so that he gets a flat when he leaves for work, will likely not be socially or legally tolerated. I'm hoping and dreaming that someone will invent a directional ray gun that will blow out thumping speakers, while concealing the identity of its user, and that a bill will be introduced and passed to allows me to legally rectify the noise in this manner. But until then, if I take that screwdriver, and instead of stabbing the SOB in the neck with it, I poke out the woofers and tweeters in his speakers, and kick his barking dog for good measure, the law will not be on my side.

I am Pro-Life. I believe abortion should be illegal. I believe that if  you choose terminate the right to life of an infant though abortion, not only do you have a dead baby and the accompanying moral ramifications on your hands, but I believe you have also committed a crime.

Neighbor with a screwdriver through his neck.

 Dog kicked for barking.

Aborted, and hence dead, baby.

All choices. All bad choices. All illegal.

I believe that teenagers should be taught NOT to have sex before marriage. The practice of abstinence avoids psychological damage, STDs and unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.

 I believe that young girls and boys should be taught to respect one another, to respect their bodies, and to respect one another's bodies. I believe they should be taught to dress in ways reflect that respect. 

A woman's body does not exist for the pleasure of men. Men (and I read this in recent comments on an article about the sexualization of breast cancer) think that women shouldn't dress provocatively if they don't want to be ogled and objectified. 

So why do they? Because they are socialized to believe that they need the approval of men, they are socialized to believe that their worth comes from being sexually desired. Oh, and because they can dress any way they darn well choose within the acceptability of the venue at hand (i.e. workplace vs. sporting event), so don't assume it's for your gratification, pervert guy at the end of the row.

So the question remains, is it okay for a woman to be valued only for her sexuality? Is it okay to treat her as an object of gratification? Women are socially condition to accept this from men. Men are socially conditioned this as acceptable. 

If you can see any truth in that, then you can begin to see the objection to the use of sexuality and boobies to sell breast cancer.

Society as a group seems to find it okay. They seem to find it fun, and useful. And they are losing sight of what feminists have been fighting for and saying for decades: that a woman's worth is not in her sexuality or the size of her rack, or whether she will let you (men) see them. Mormons have been teaching for decades that a woman's worth is not sexual, that her body should be treated with respect, that she should always be treated with dignity and respect.

Both groups need to work a little harder at seeing that principle into practice. When we push those principles at the root of society, when we stand up and refuse to be objectified, when we help other to see worth in a woman and not in her body, when we speak out against sexualization of a woman's disease, then the ridiculousness of campaigns such as "Feel Your Boobies", "Save Second Base", and "Save the TaTas" become more transparent in the unacceptability of the underlying message they pedal.

So who am I? I am a conservative Christian who wants to see women respected, I am Pro-Life. I'm not a feminist, though I share and respect many of the views espoused by those who claim feminism. Women are equal to men, and should be respected by them. Women should be respected by other women if they choose to pursue a career, or if they choose to raise a family. Women are capable. To be seen as capable, we must stand up and behave capably. We must value ourselves and each other. We must insist that we be treated with respect, by each other, and by men, at home, in the workplace, or in the club.

It's 2:00am. The pharmacy filled my sleep prescription with another manufacturer's generic. It does not work. I would have tossed and turned until about this time anyway, so, just like in the early days of my diagnosis, I turned to the computer. I still have 5 hours to sleep, assuming I fall asleep soon. I'll most likely wake in 2 1/2 hours to PEE, however, and I think I can safely blame the chemo and the extra water I am encouraged to drink. Many more nights of this and I will be back on that insomnia edge; a place I do not like to be. Monday I will see what I can do about getting my prescription refilled from a different manufacturer. 

I also don't do rough drafts, and do very little editing, except as I go. So I may do rough final copies. It is what it is. My back hurts, my disability insurance company is on my case again with the re-certification crap, to which I want to answer, "I STILL HAVE CANCER! IT'S STILL STAGE IV! It's not going to get better. In answer to your questions about the past 18 months, no one has found  a cure for cancer in that time period." Just one of the things stressing me out right now, contributing to my depression, likely to this foul  mood, and possibly to this insomnia.

Okay, I edited a bit. Now its 2:45. Thanks for reading.


Jamie Inman said...

You go girl! I was deeply troubled by the polarization of the BC community around Komen and Planned Parenthood, ie., how prolife sisters-in-arms suddenly became the enemy.
You are one ballsy conservative Christian, and I applaud you!

The Dirty Pink Underbelly said...

That is a compliment I embrace and appreciate! Thank you, Jamie. And I completely agree that the polarization was deeply troubling.

The Accidental Amazon said...

Darlin', you rock. And you make important nuances in this post. The best way to prevent abortions is to educate girls, and end violence against girls and women. Until women have genuine social equality; until women are not subject to domestic violence, incest & rape; until girls are not kidnapped, abused & forced into sexual slavery; until we are paid according to our work & not our gender; and until men stop telling us what to do with our body parts while they obsess over them, even hate us for them, & act like they own them, we have to keep raising these issues. Nothing ever changes in silence.

It doesn't say much for our species that we are so far from achieving all this. It's especially hard when so many women internalize the misogyny & don't understand how the baggage of gender stereotyping attached to the color pink puts us on a slippery slope, with cutesy breast cancer slogans at one end, and bloody Pornhub at the other. But sniping at each other is not the answer either. The atmosphere of polarization in this country is nauseating & unproductive.

Grumble on, sistah.

Nancy's Point said...

What a great post. I learned so much about you. I love how you proudly state your beliefs. Recently there has been talk about divisions among those in the breast cancer community, you perhaps alluded to a few. I don't see it that way at all. I see strong-minded women speaking with passion. And IMHO being a feminist simply means one who is working to promote equal rights, respect and dignity for women, in fact, for all people. So to me you are a feminist. So, yes, again in IMHO there is such a thing as a conservative feminist! But regardless of what we call ourselves, we need all of our collective voices to bring an end to those horrible things Kathi mentioned in her comment. As you said, it's remarkable we aren't past some of this stuff yet. Keep on telling your truths, Shelli. We need you.

Karen K. said...

In my book a Feminist is anyone who is an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.
Congratulations, you're a Feminist.
Oh and I loved the blog post. You are awesome. I love you.