Posts Tagged ‘Judith Butler’

I think part of the reason I meet so many people who hesitate to call themselves a feminist is because they have some idea of a hairy-arm-pitted matriarch who some how demands abortions and burns her bras (but as Ben points out, that’s probably not so bad).

But for me at least, that’s not what feminism is about. For me feminism is about loving myself, and loving my fellow beings, and demanding that we all treat each other with the respect we deserve. It’s where gender and all of it’s limitations, and hang ups are dismantled once and for all. It’s about equal rights for all. It’s about egalitarianism, baby.

Patriarchy, Matriarchy, any archy. It’s all the same stuff that gives power to some by taking it from others and fails to recognize those who are and have historically been marginalized.

But here’s the ticker. How do you live an egalitarian life in patriarch-ed, racist, classist, and generally fucked up world? While I can say “genderisasocialconstruct” every five minutes, it ultimately doesn’t change things. Yes. I’ve acknowledged something, but it’s not enough. I’m no girly girl, but I still reproduce and reinforce gender with my speech, with my actions. And even if I was the girly girl, is that so bad?

I’ve been dealing with this ever since I read a bit of Judith Butler and to be honest I’ve never really found an appropriate way to deal with it. And maybe that’s part of it, that until we live in an egalitarian society, my life will feel a bit off. I must remind myself that this is a society problem, not just an individualized one.

But in the mean time what to do?! How does one act in a way, knowing all of these things that doesn’t drive a person crazy? One thing I’ve been thinking about is trying to look at all power structures (not simply patriarchical ones) in which I’m related, and then try to change how I’ve been acting within that power structure. One specific power relation which I’ve recently been interested in has been my relation to speciesism. After hearing Evan Greer at Vassar the other day I was struck by the links between patriarchy and specisism. While it’s difficult to clearly articulate, it became clear to me that hierarchy in all it’s forms leads to the unnecessary suffering of so many. And so I’ve decided to become a vegan. It may seem like a stretch but in some ways I think this choice is completely related to my experience with feminism. It’s not dismantling the binary of gender but dismantling a different binary (“animals” and “humans”) and it’s tangible, and in some ways is giving me a better understanding of my privilege and how I play into hierarchical structures.

How do you deal with the binary and with your own role in hierarchical structures? What are your frustrations? What’s helped? What hasn’t?

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