issue 2


The Present State of Whorecraft, Adultery, Fornication, Procuring, Pimping, and Sodomy

[T]he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

.                                     – Pat Robertson, July 1992

The so-called Battle between the Sexes is a conflict based on the notion that men and women are fundamentally different. Long-held belief in it by both genders has created a profound imbalance that, even now in the twenty-first century, we are still reeling from. Some have addressed this problem by writing works of intellectual greatness and others have battled against monarchy, but not everyone makes such grand gestures. Sometimes the defiance of inequity can be something as immediate as touting your sexuality on the Internet as an act of personal achievement or wearing heels so high you need an escort to help you walk. One friend of this publication has even used her proceeds from prostitution to pay for her Ph.D. in forensic science.

Feminism, the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes, is simple in its definition, but how it should be applied is still a hotly contested debate. The term as we know it was first coined in 1837 as féminisme by utopian philosopher Charles Fourier, although he had expressed the concept by 1808 in his anonymously published Théorie des quatre mouvements et des destinées générales (Theory of the Four Movements and the General Destinies). By féminisme, he particularly referenced the need for the emancipation of women in the French Republic. He believed that liberty for women was the general principle of all social progress, eloquently writing, “by the position which women hold in a land, you can see whether the air of a state is thick with dirty fog or free and clear.” Fourier was hardly the first to develop this idea. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1792, aggressively proposed female citizens’ rights, and women like Anne-Josèphe Terwagne (AKA Théroigne de Méricort, the subject of a feature in this issue) fought wholeheartedly for those rights in the French Revolution. Sadly, they all were dead before the term feminism even came into being.

Théroigne, it can be argued, risked her sanity to fight for women’s rights, but for many a young woman today, the idea of calling herself a feminist makes her distinctly uncomfortable. A lot of people now equate the term with man-bashing, sensible shoes, and raised fists revealing unshaven armpits. Bra burning and hairy legs aside, their discomfort points out a vital problem in the fight for women’s rights. Most of us live with, are related to, or very often love those males who, at times, are painted as being the enemy. It is a truth that those who fight for change are usually the ones suffering under the current system, and though much writing has been inked on the subject, many women these days simply do not feel that they suffer from inequality.

Have you ever gone out in your best dress only to have all the women guard their husbands from the imagined threat of you? Been called a bitch because you expressed an opinion at the board meeting? Walked to the corner store to get a pint of ice cream and had your ass grabbed by a twelve-year-old? Been called a victim because you chose to stay at home with the kids? Sat alone at a bar to think and had everyone assume you were available for a hook-up? These examples may seem like mere annoyances but they demonstrate that true equality and the respect that goes along with it have yet to be achieved.

Confusion about equality abounds on both sides. Recent cultural focus on sex positivity, racial diversity, class awareness, and transgender culture seeks to address some of this confusion, including challenging what “gender” actually means. We have the potential for an exciting new world, but even in the most enlightened circles, what is called female is often perceived to be less valuable and sometimes less than human. The rampant violent sexualization of women in every part of the world proves that we still have much to accomplish.

And what do we do? Many have rejected the rhetoric and methods of the 1960s as irrelevant and extremist. Yet extremists remain. The extremely vocal anti-porn feminists are still around and, sadly, they are the ones who get far more press than the countless individuals who have more moderate, if no less dedicated, views of feminism. Those who have fought for anti-sexual harassment legislation, paid maternity leave, funding for breast cancer research, legalized abortion, equal pay, and the right to be seen as an individual have not been given nearly as much air time as those who are more spectacularly radical. Whatever their agenda, what these feminists have achieved is worthy of great respect. To honor them, it falls on us to continue to express, argue, challenge, support each other, and believe that true equality is possible.

Feminism has many facets and many personalities. It can be intensely political or quietly personal, and it continues to evolve. It is diverse enough to include those who wear kaftans or combat boots, smoke loose tobacco or drink tea, surf at dawn only to strap on pearls by night, sport a trucker cap or dreads, work in sex therapy or run for political office. For some it means never daring to be caught out in public without their false eyelashes on.

Today, women are leading men in college graduation rates. The U.S. has yet to have a female head of state but conservative Pakistan has. There’s a lot of progress yet to be made, but whatever your flavor, feminism is devoted to demanding the right to be respected as a human being. And, more importantly, it proclaims that single most important intention of any social revolution, the freedom to be precisely, totally, and completely yourself.