Thursday, March 03, 2011
What Feminism Looks Like
Yes, I posted a similar PSA from Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions just a couple days ago. I'm putting this one up not to beat the drum again about Palestine, but because of what this video says about women. In a brief minute it forces the viewer to confront one's prejudices about what feminism looks like. In my post about enforced standards of beauty on the Jersey shore ("American Burqa") I tried to chop away a bit at the superficial notion that American culture is synonymous with female empowerment. This video is the perfect companion, chipping away at the notion that female empowerment has to come with cultural transgression.
There are many women prominent in American politics, and they're not limited to one side of the issues. At some point all these women get judged on the basis of their physical appearance. How much energy is wasted discussing the appearance or clothing of Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton? Or of Maggie Gallagher, spokesperson of the anti-gay hate group "National Organization for [sic] Marriage"? Or even of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann? Palin and Bachmann are outspoken women (with revolting politics) who project a certain strength and independence; but are they feminists?
Show a picture of a Middle-Eastern woman in some kind of religiously modest clothing and an assumption is immediately made -- by Americans, anyway -- that she is submissive, oppressed, docile, controlled by men. And yet compare hijab-clad women in the protests in Palestine or Egypt with Sarah Palin. Who's more feminist? Who's more involved in fighting for human dignity, justice and liberation?
It's not about appearances; it's about substance and values and program.