In the article, “You've Got The Wrong Song: Nashville and Country Music Feminism”, Claire Stanford contrasted between musicians who represented themselves as feminists and who have portrayed femininity. Stanford expresses that feminism and femininity are often misunderstood (276), but she draws the line between these two ambiguous words. Stanford mentions that among all the female-driven television shows, Nashville fasciated her most through the way they represented these women, how they represented themselves, and the respect they earned. Instead of the “same soapy female trope”(282), this television show represents female image and power in a male-dominated industry. While analyzing this complex terminology, Stanford questions “Can a show that is so ostensibly interested in the “feminine” — in sexual and romantic relationships, in motherhood and daughterhood, in short skirts and spangly tops and big hair — also be feminist?” (277).
When many people hear the word “feminism,” they shudder and imagine protesters who despise men. Unfortunately, throughout time feminist ideology has adapted to mean many different things, which makes it confusing to determine what feminism actually is. The meaning of the word “Feminism” in Stanfords work is almost unmistakable. She explains that these two Nashville artists, Rayna James and Juliette Barnes, have created one of the most feminist television shows by showing the struggles of female artists while also succeeding in a male dominated industry. Though the artists were battling for the spotlight, the show treated them with sophistication and dignity, making it very clear that its a “professional rivalry” (280). Even though both of these women have their own personal challenges in the industry and at home, they stand up tall, fight and strive to succeed. All though, Stanford is straightforward with his understanding of the word “Feminism”, anyone that has had different experiences or knowledge on the topic could completely change the message and ultimate connotation of the writing. When Stanford analyzes the song’s some country singers wrote, for example “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette, whereas in this song could confuse the reader by thinking that women think all men are liars, cheaters, gamblers and drinkers. Wynette advises women to look out for their man while he’s off having good times without you, and to accept him even though he makes these silly mistakes just because “he’s a man”. This could guide some people to believe that feminism isn’t about equality, but that men are the general issue.
If you closely analyze the word feminism and the endless ideas, and interpretations of the word, the word itself starts to fall apart and it holds no stable meaning. Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher best known for developing “Deconstruction”, has given the world an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning. Feminism can be interpreted in many ways, but some forms of feminism have been harmful in that they have built an ideological foundation that is anti-male. If we look at some protesters signs, shirts, and listen to what they have to say, we often find that they abandon the core meaning of feminism and what they’re really advocating for, and lock onto the obliteration of the power and accountability of men. These women are not feminists, but they align themselves with a movement filled with thousands of other women whose purpose is to empower women as well as advocate for equal rights among both sexes. Nowadays, with access to social media websites and feminism being a highly controversial topic, it’s almost impossible to look through your feed and not see a comment or post regarding feminism and how men are the core issue in today’s society, “I am tired of feminists stating they’re not anti-men. It’s the year 2018 for f*ck’s sake. Nobody who walks upright thinks that women who want equal rights hate men or that POC who insist on civil rights hate white people. If they do they’re not worth your time.”, a tweet made by Lexie Alexander. Social-media users are easily entertained and will most likely believe anything they scroll past, even if it’s just one simple comment they will always associate it with feminism.
Feminism isn’t about fighting men, but it is about eliminating patriarchy while learning and practicing equality. While some women are using the power of feminism to bash men, it just makes their own accountability diminish. Some women have even gone so far to obstruct the use of shelters for men who have suffered from domestic abuse, that alone is an extreme example of feminist who disregard true equality for personal beliefs. Everyone has a different view on the movement and people will often only acknowledge the women who suffer from the abuse simply just because “they’re women”. On Reddit, an anonymous user even scoffs and belittles the idea alone for a men’s domestic abuse shelter while completely ignoring the physical and mental abuse that goes on between both men and women. She specifically targets men and even went as far to say “It's laughable to believe that a woman can create the same kind of hell that men can” (para 1) and goes on to say, “I think what men going through, is some extremely light, fluffy s*it when compared” (para 1). When she brushes aside and even shoots down the whole idea of men suffering from abuse she is silencing all men who truly suffer. The post itself and the comments below were so rigorous that the discussion had to be deleted from the page.
Even Catherine Comins, a well known feminist leader made a statement bashing all men, “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience” said Comins, when she completely justified the false rape accusations made upon men and believes that men who are tried as innocent deserve the accusation and outcome of rape allegations. Women are also subjecting all men to the mistakes made by the guilty which in turn, imprisons all men to be set under a political and social microscope made of stereotypes and hateful words. Making these allegations towards all men are only teaching men discrimination and hatred. Some women are missing the whole point of feminism and defeating the whole purpose of empowering one another, instead they are seeking to exceed expectations and be dominant over men completely. Spreading hatred towards men doesn’t accomplish anything, especially if what were ultimately searching for is equality, we are just teaching people that feminism is more of a huge group of women fighting against men which will only make people care less about the women's movement. For example, Do?a U, a journalist said “even though 82% of both men and women believe that the two genders should have equal rights, only 23% of women and 16% of men consider themselves to be feminists. This proves that feminism no longer carries the meaning it did decades ago”(para 4). With displaying no true goal of feminism through these beliefs many people often don't respect these beliefs and disregard their true objective of feminism because many women are marching with a crowd that's searching for equality while representing hatred against men.
Derrida persistently believed that a text could hold endless possibilities at the same time. Deconstruction is to show that the use of language in a text and language as a whole, are complex and unstable. Derrida discusses that deconstructing language is not just about exploring different meanings and interpretations of a text but “its about peeling back the onion of all those covert ethical and political ideas sneaking around those meanings” (para 4). If we look back on the past few decades, women have been advocating for their civil rights since the 1830’s, but the second and third waves of feminism involving overcoming the great difference between male and female pay and the reproductive rights of women not only changed the lives of women drastically, but also shifting the gender normalities and gave women a valuable role in society that nobody ever thought we’d have. Over time as women fight for equality, the change in gender roles are significant and have created confusion regarding the permissible dynamics between the sexes. Nowadays, it’s nerve racking for people to trust their common impulses, rather they try to stick to new 'women's activist' rules since individuals are frightful of being blamed for being 'sexist' or “tools of patriarchy“. Questions like, 'Am I allowed to compliment my female friend about her lovely dress or would this be viewed as provocation?' or 'Would she be able to compliment me on how handsome I look in my new suit or would she generalize me as man meat?' emerge in almost every experience between individuals who essentially are trying to be respectful or nice. These certain gestures that used to be normalized are now taken offensively, and dating is a prime example of this.
On a date, notice where the waiter places the check. It automatically goes to the male because that is what is usually expected. These gestures we used to find normal keep occurring, but women are now starting to feel underappreciated and viewed as less in parts of society because they are seen to play such a minimal role when they’re with men. Almost immediately after birth, both men and women are forced into this little box filled with social pressures and expectations you have too meet which can lead people to feel afraid to step out of that box, especially because that’s all we have ever been taught. These expectations force people to change who they are and shames them if they don’t. Trying to change or not accepting one’s personality only creates someone to feel out of touch with themself, making them to feel like they don't know where they belong or who to surround themselves with. Girls are supposedly more nurturing and family orientated while boys are more individualistic and reveal more leadership qualities. Girls are handed dolls and tea sets while boys are given plastic tools and books. What if we did the opposite? If we stopped socializing children into distinct gender roles, I’m convinced that gender roles would disappear. Gender roles are not something that just comes natural, but they’re socially constructed. The impact that gender appropriation has on society is so strong that it affects almost every part an individual's life. As a child growing up, individuals begin to understand what is acceptable for them to do in relation of their sex. Eventually these societal shaped views affect how an individual decides to make choices throughout their life. From career choices, to appropriate sports and activities, gender identification can affect and in some ways limit or determine what an individual can or can not do.
When in the process of deconstruction, it’s important to analyze words and sentences to identify deeply rooted biases and call into question familiar interpretations. Many people believe that deconstruction is about destroying meaning of something. But the meaning of the process is deeper than that, it’s about breaking down established assumptions to view things in a different light. Feminism has given the world a whole new outlook and for most people, this movement can be overwhelming and intimidating because people are being forced to eliminate the idea of gender roles, masculinity and femininity, and come together as one and share these roles. This idea makes some people feel intimidated by women, because in the past, men only had to compete with half of humanity for most jobs. Now, they have to compete with all of humanity. In some families and relationships, men were the ultimate decision makers. Now, they have to share power and decision-making. In other words, some men are afraid of feminism because it challenges forms of men’s power and privilege. Even though the change is difficult, its proven that men can gain so much from feminism. Men have always been told to stand strong, show zero emotions, be dominant and powerful, but imagine the relief from eliminating social pressures and teaching this generation to put aside these normal roles and practice equality. Viren Swami, Debbi Stanistreet and Sarah Payne conducted a study on masculinity and mental health, this study discusses how the male suicide is on the rise, and “it has increased 24% in the last 15 years”, “most studies mention the construction of masculinity and the expectations on men to behave in a certain way as a factor. The pressure to appear strong, to be the providers, to feel that it would be “unmanly” to seek help in times of stress… this is very detrimental to one’s mental health. Human beings benefit from expressing their feelings and seeking comfort and connection”. Gender stereotypes hold outdated and damaging expectations for both genders. While Feminism is often viewed as a movement that wishes to view women as more than men it is rather about addressing the gender inequalities that exist in a patriarchal society. It acknowledges that both men and women are victims of harmful stereotypes and that both would have better emotional and mental health without them.
The feminist movement has come a long way and accomplished many things, which leads many people to believe there is no goals left for feminist to accomplish. The cause of this belief is that people acknowledge that the feminist group have accomplished and contributed to the cause, whether its political or social rights. After all, we have earned most of our basic civil rights over the decades, but there are still battles women face every single day concerning equality, domestic violence and harassment, and mostly the gender wage gap. Society is having a hard time adjusting to women roles outside of the home and their competences and skills are undervalued, so women frequently earn less annually than men for doing comparable. According to National Committee on Pay Equity in 2019, “ year-round workers showed women still earning 80.5 cents for every dollar men earned, exactly the same gap as in 2016” (para 3). This is a large hurdle for women that is not disappearing anytime soon. Paying women less than men is not only unfair, but it’s just plain discrimination. How is it fair that women taking time out of the workforce due to pregnancy results them into losing seniority, advancement opportunities and wages? Caregiving and having children should carry equal responsibility between genders, yet women still take on the majority of these duties globally. In addition to taking time off for caregiving, the gender pay gap continues to discriminate when women return to work. Cheryl Hughes, was an intelligent, single mother of two when she chose to pursue an engineering degree in 1982. “She dealt with an overwhelming male majority in the field and found a balance between motherhood and being a student, but she couldn’t overcome pay inequity. Hughes said she lost more than $1 million in earnings throughout her career as an engineer because she is an African American woman.” (para 2). Your salary shouldn’t be based off what race, sex, or gender you are, but it is. If someone can do the comparable to a man, than it’s only right to be getting paid the same. The wage gap is not the only battle women are fighting today, but it’s sure one of the most controversial out of them all. Even though almost everyone is aware of this gap, there are still no changes being made simply because we are “women” and still looked at as the “weaker” sex. The gender wage gap is a huge issue that will take years of advocating to change, and that’s only if more people are aware of the issue.
While using deconstruction throughout my research on feminism, it gave me a different understanding on the concept and all the many different possibilities this word could uphold just in one sentence. Women have had many great breakthroughs with their protests, but many still turn a blind eye to the fact that there is sexual discrimination, violence, and a gender wage gap. Men are still more respected than women in our society. Feminism is now necessary more than ever, women still struggle to earn their basic civil rights because of their race and simply just because they’re women and “don’t have the ability to do what a man does”. It’s important that society is aware of what the feminist movement is really about and women aren’t searching for dominance or power but equality and respect. If feminism was properly applied men would be degraded less and woman would be fearless and show more happiness and financial growth. This would give us the ability to influence the younger generation in a healthier way to confront situations and circumstances they may encounter. While also teaching them better problem solving we will also be teaching them how to treat others regardless of any physical or psychological difference. The problem of women's rights is not going away anytime soon, but its growing popularity gives hope to all those fighting for equality.
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