Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I am More Feminist than Many Women

I've been thinking about this post for weeks, and in part even months. I was directly inspired because through the grapevine word had it that I said wrote some chauvinistic things in previous posts relating to women. So here I go, on a vain attempt to salvage some integrity, which will likely only portray me as an even more evil person than everyone previously suspected. So what else is new?

Let's talk feminism. I really knew nothing about it until a very close friend of mine went to college a year before me. In the course of her studies she learned about feminism and the subject came up during a phone call once. I really knew nothing about it, so when she said that she was feminist I decided to do some research and see what that meant.

On January, 2nd, 2011 Wikipedia defined Feminism by the following opening sentence: Feminism refers to movements aimed at establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.[1][2][3]

There is absolutely no question in my mind that feminism, as defined above, is something that should be practiced by everyone. Therefore, I decided as a high school senior that I am a feminist.

As the years went past one of my jobs in college was taking pictures at sporting events, specifically the basketball games. I took pictures for both the men's and women's teams. While I have little interest in the sport itself, I found women's basketball more fascinating than the men's and not because they were women I may have been attracted to. Women's games are often lower scoring than men's games which means that more time and thus effort is put into each goal. Passing, dribbling, turnovers, and other ball handling skills are more important in a low scoring game. Unfortunately, as just about anyone that has gone to a men's game and women's game in the same night has experienced, there are typically far more spectators at the men's game than the women's game. Unfair? I think so.

Next was post-college graduation when many of my friends landed their first salaried jobs. Salaries are not often talked about but they tend to come up every now and then. Also, comments people make are very insightful into how much those people make. One of the things that seems to occur is that women make less money than men. I find that ridiculous! I don't want to get paid more simply because I am a male! I want to earn what I get paid because I am incredibly awesome and productive at my job.

Recently I was riding in a car with a woman and we were listening to music and the song "Sound Track to My Life" by Kid Cudi (a male) came on. The first line is: "I got 99 problems and they all bit*$!&." I said to the woman in the car, "Don't you find that offensive?" Her response was a slightly shocked, should-I-be-offended mumbling, "No..." I find it offensive. Wether any women out there do or not, who knows, but I find it offensive that he refers to women that way.

In another example, someone suggested that when I talk about racing and beating women that my tone and words are very chauvinist. I compare my own race results very often to women's racing results. I compare my results to those of my friends and other male runners as well, so my comparisons are not limited. However, many of my running goals, based on times at various distances I want to run, are probably similar to many of the current famous professional female runners in the world. In that way when I compare myself to the women, it provides one understanding of how well I am doing. I ran a 15 mile race in Colorado this summer and I was beaten by one woman, who had been 13th at the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon. For me it provides a clear understanding of how I am doing. Famous women runners are far more likely to have biographies and race result times listed on the Internet so that I can compare how well she raced at that distance to other distances. This most interests me when it comes to marathoning. I have not run one, and figuring out how I am progressing toward future marathons based on how I race shorter distances against established marathoners is one way that I do that. I could talk about Ryan Meissen, Mark Stenbeck, or Michael Wardian, but it is harder to determine which runners fall into the marathon trials oriented group versus the runners that just enjoy running fast and focusing on the shorter distances. As one of my coaches once said, "Don't compare yourself to others, you are different." Well, I've done a whole lot better about that the last 15 months now that I understand my own training more. Still, I run races to be as fast as possible and I like to know who is beating me. It's self-centered I know, that is part of the reason I'm not in a relationship now.

Finally, I leave with a quote. This quote is very sincere to me. It is not strictly about feminism yet it illustrates one relationship where I stood on an equal footing with this woman and feminism is about equality. The person that said it, and her friends that agreed with her, are so unique among all the friends that I have ever had that I do not anticipate ever hearing this from anyone else. She said, "Isaiah, you are the best guy friend I have ever had, except for my family, that I haven't slept with."

3 comments:

  1. Isaiah-- your topic makes me laugh a little. It's serious, but when I was in high school, a history teacher informed me that I was a misogynist and then polled the class. Knowing who assigned the grades, they all agreed. I laughed about it then, as I do now. I know who I am and no matter who says differently, it doesn't change anything. You know who you are, so why bother fretting over this kind of thing?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Phew....its a complicated subject with many layers.

    First - My Grandfather used to watch womans tennis because the mens tennis was "boring" similar reasons to you (and he was being sincere).

    2nd, over the years I've brushed off many, what I consider cultural negative comments about women. I like a lot of rap for example. Also woman are socialized to be "nice". When we get offended we are seen as over the top or having a problem. I've noted in engineering circles that women complain but men give feedback (even if they use the same words and tone).

    I don't think you are a chauvinist. You are a competitive person probably because of all the sports you do and men are more comfortable with competition than women....

    Tracey

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Lane and Tracey for your comments. I've just noticed this a little more recently. I do think much of it is cultural, and I also feel that I have not experienced a perfect or at least near perfect culture. What I mean is, if some man or woman has not considered this subject before and she or he reads this post perhaps that person will have a more empowered or more equal view of the world and relationships, and the world will be a better place.

    Thank you again for your comments!

    ReplyDelete