Wednesday, 26 October 2005

A little more on the "F" word

I've been somewhat absent from the blog of late (apart from a highly unappreciated appearance earlier today in a frivolous moment better forgotten) and C has been single handily steering it toward stardom. She wrote a post on feminism the other day and we've had more discussion in the comments field (and more hits in a single day) then we've ever had before.

Since I didn't weigh in on the comment fest I fell like I should say something here. I appreciate that feminism is no longer a female preserve (in fact it never was solely about women, but more about the ways in which women and men relate and the systemic repression women around the world have suffered [and still suffer] due to the power imbalances in these relations), but it's often, as a male, difficult to identify oneself as a feminist without causing consternation among ones peers.

A story.

When I was living in the US a few years ago I was out with some friends (a mixed group) one evening when someone made a comment that resulted in someone else at the table saying that the original commenter (a female) was a feminist. She recoiled as if she'd been hit and swiftly denied the charge. I was shocked by the comment and the reaction. I've never been very good at holding my tongue at the best of times, but least of all when someone steps on my sensibilities. I immediately asked the friend in denial (who is most certainly a feminist) why she reacted like she'd been called a bad name and she told me that she didn't like what "feminists" stood for. I told her that I was a feminist and that I thought that perhaps she was mistaken in her understanding of feminism. A discussion followed in which I discovered that among people of my generation, in the US at least, feminism is a dirty word. Not one of the people in that room looked at me the same way again after my feminist declaration (or maybe I'm just paranoid).

Either way I think that we could all do with some re-education and while the label is far from perfect, the bigger picture principles underlying the feminist movement can only make the world a more equitable and humane place for is all to live.

Speaking of equity and humanity, you'll be grieved, I'm sure, to hear the the Iranian government has just banned all "Western" movies from the country, again. That's right it's back to the bad old days of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his nasty cohorts. Still, when you're forced to stay up past midnight every night, deprived of your soundly sleeping wife's company, too tired to think and watching TV in the vain hope of keeping yourself distracted to stay awake till bedtime, the "western" movies you get to watching give you an iota of sympathy for the Iranian hardliners. Hell, if I owned a country I'd think seriously about banning most of the tripe that the hollywood system churns out.

But, standing behind my principle of freedom of speech (and since as soon as the movies are banned the press will follow - not that Iran has a free press to ban, but you get the point), I personally, for what it's worth, condemn the censor's move. I can understand the fear of Americanisation, heck I live with it myself, but an outright ban doesn't get anyone anywhere. The days are long gone when government's had the ability to control what people in their countries choose to consume (informationally at least), and a knee-jerk reaction like this one merely feeds an already thriving black market in the products of the "free" world.

The Iranian government's attempt to "wipe out corrupt Western culture" included a few more unsightly "Western" too, including alcohol and drugs, secularists, liberals, anarchists and (and here's the reason I'm including this particular rant in this particular post) feminists.

Looks like Iran and the US have more in common than I thought.

Okay, it's 11.33 and I'm allowed to go to bed in 27 minutes. Better get to cleaning my teeth.

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