On May 22, 2013, an e-mail I wrote was sent to the 20,000+ subscribers of mailing list The Listserve. I included my e-mail address at the end so anyone could write back to me.
Nearly 100 e-mails later, I have received articles, book recommendations, and a few very interesting counter-thoughts. I'm pleased to say that, as of writing this, I have received only a single troll.
I've been recommended the books The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and Lean in - Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I'll be looking both of these up the next time I go to a book store.
There is a plethora of feminist articles that readers sent to me, as well, that I wouldn't feel right if I didn't share.
A good one from Curator of Dialogue
Why society still needs feminism, on Tumblr
Clara Fritts' take on feminism
A TED Talk that might turn every man who watches it into a feminist
Serenade my Soul on my article
Men are from Mars, women are from Venus (such bollocks!)
Some people directed me to causes they feel strongly about as well, such as Girl Develop It, whose mission is to empower women from diverse backgrounds to learn how to code and develop software, and a non-feminist but very real humanitarian movement based out of NYC that is actively moving against the controversial stop-and-frisk program. I have learned a lot about people from all over and their views and impressions of feminism by sending a single e-mail.
Thanks to everyone who read my e-mail and who felt compelled to write to me, and those who remained silent as well.
The title of my e-mail was Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which meant as an ironic twist to the well-known song. I've pasted it below for you to read.
I was going to take this opportunity to talk about something entirely
different, but after something that happened yesterday, I’m going to
use it to clear up a few misconceptions about a topic very dear to me.
My mom is an English professor. During one of her classes, she looked
at her students and asked “How many of you here would identify as a
feminist?”. To her dismay, about three or four of the twenty-some
students raised their hands, and all of them were female.
“Let me ask you something,” she said. “How many of you believe in
equal rights for women?” Everyone raised their hands. “How many of you
believe women should be paid the same amount as men in the workplace?”
They all raised her hands again. Mom smiled. “Then you are all
The first two definitions of feminism, as per dictionary.com, are:
[fem-uh-niz-uhm] Show IPA
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
If you’ll look, you see none of the common misconceptions of feminism, which include:
1. hating men
2. burning bras
3. getting angry when men hold doors open for them
4. trying to take over the world with our feminine wiles
5. obliterating men altogther and releasing them as a fine powder into the atmosphere (okay, I’m embellishing just a bit)
The reality is that feminists are sick of the way women are
portrayed, the way they are pitted against each other and the way that
society tells women that their bodies are shameful and that they should hate them
for not looking good enough for men.
Yesterday I had a guy refuse to let me help him lift heavy things for
the mere fact that I was a woman, even though I had just carried one of
those “heavy” things (which, for the record, really weren’t that heavy)
across the floor to him with ease. Instead of standing there and
arguing with him, I decided it said more about him than me, and I left.
And that was when I knew what to write about for the Listserve.
A few traditional sexist practices need a little clarification, too.
If a man refuses to hit a woman because he just doesn’t hit women, he’s
doing it for the wrong reason. You shouldn’t hit a woman because she’s a
person, just like you shouldn’t hit a man because he’s a person--a quick digression to add that I am absolutely not referring to domestic abuse here, rather the old "I wouldn't hit a girl" adage. When
you hold a door open for a woman, you should hold it open because it’s
polite to hold a door open for anyone. And, regardless of which gender
the person holding the door open identifies with, you should always say
thank you. But that’s a “common courtesy” issue, so I’ll stop there.
My aim with this e-mail wasn’t necessarily to change minds, but
rather to help some of you understand that you might just be a feminist
without knowing it. And that’s okay. Most of the negative aspects
associated with feminism are radical and certainly not the thoughts of
every feminist, or are non-existant altogether.
I have a lot to say on various topics, not all of them necessarily
political, social, or even negative. If you’re interested, I invite you
to check out my blog. Google “kcooperwriting” and you’ll find me a few
links down under my Twitter account.
Thanks for reading. I’ve really enjoyed all the Listserve e-mails so far, especially those with projects linked to them.
To finish off, another reader sent me this great cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Enjoy.