Freitag, Mai 03, 2013

Professorin für Frauenstudien: "Warum wir uns nach außen nicht länger 'Feministinnen' nennen sollten"

Abigail Rine, Professorin für Frauenstudien, hat erkannt, dass der Feminismus inzwischen ein so fettes PR-Problem an der Backe hat, dass man der Sache mit Sprüchen auf T-Shirts nicht mehr beikommt. In ihrem aktuellen Artikel schreibt sie dazu unter anderem:

When I was a senior in college and a recent convert to feminism, I bought one of those "This is What a FEMINIST Looks Like!" t-shirts, and it quickly became my favorite item of clothing. The lettering was pink — ironically pink, of course — and I liked to push that irony further by pairing the shirt with a skirt, and maybe even some knee-high boots with flowers embroidered around the top.

(...) Seven years later, I still have the t-shirt, but it now lives in a box of old clothes in the attic. I can't bring myself to give it away, but I also can't remember the last time I wore it. We are at an impasse, the shirt and I, and this stalemate mirrors another growing ambivalence of mine, one I have only recently admitted harboring: an ambivalence about the word "feminism" itself.

This is a surprising admission for someone like me. Feminism wasn't just a passing college fad. I have two advanced degrees in feminist studies, not to mention a book on feminist literary criticism coming out later this year. I am now a college professor and regularly teach courses in our women's studies program. And I still feel that new-convert fervor when it comes to naming and opposing forces of sexism in our society.

And yet, in my professional and personal life, I increasingly find myself talking about feminist ideas without actually using the word "feminism." Why? It is exhausting to preface every conversation about combating misogyny with winsome, disarming anecdotes about how I actually do like men — enough to even marry one! — and how I actually haven't burned any bras (and probably never will, because they are so expensive). I'm tired of doing this myth-debunking dance, and, weirdly enough, the conversation often goes more smoothly if I just avoid the "F-Word" entirely.

This trend makes sense in the context of a recent study conducted by HuffPost/YouGov, which concluded that only 20 percent of Americans identify as feminists, even though a whopping 82 percent believe that "men and women should be social, political, and economic equals." Unsurprisingly, some of my fellow self-identified feminists, like Feministing's Samhita Mukhopadhyay, have responded to this survey by lamenting feminism's serious brand problem and analyzing why we're such a misunderstood bunch. Not long ago, that would have been my response, too.

(...) I recently gave a guest lecture in a colleague's classroom on feminist theology. As usual, I had to spend half the class period in myth-busing mode, trying to redeem the word "feminist" enough for the students to listen. This meant I covered only a fraction of what I'd prepared. Still, I felt good about the talk, mainly because none of the students responded with overtly hostile questions.

(...) In my experience, using the feminist label is an asset only when preaching to the feminist choir. My ambivalence disappears in those contexts; I feel as though we are all speaking the same language, so we can relax and high-five each other in our feminist t-shirts, because, yes, we get it. But when I step beyond that insular crowd, the term has a consistently alienating effect. In conversations with non-feminists — which are arguably the most important — using the word "feminism" rarely opens doors to deeper dialogue. Instead, it often acts as a barrier to the very ideas that word represents. This is a serious problem, one that I wish more feminists were talking candidly about.

Wenn ihr es schon als Erfolg betrachtet, wenn Besucher eurer Vorlesung über feministische Theologie "keine offen feindseligen Fragen stellen", dann, liebe Feministinnen, habt ihr wohl im großen und ganzen zwei Möglichkeiten: euch endlich offensiv mit den Schattenseiten eurer Ideologie auseinandersetzen – oder ihr einen neuen Namen geben und nach außen hin so tun, als wärt ihr niemals Feministinnen gewesen. Wie ich euch kenne, wird euch die Entscheidung nicht schwer fallen, und ich bin gespannt, welcher neue Name es werden wird.

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