Saturday, January 31, 2009

"My House Is Not On Fire"

So sometimes I worry about my friends. I worry about everyone who just. doesn't. understand! about why this whole feminism thing is so important. And I get angry about it. In theory, I understand that not everyone will think like me or even agree with me, and it doesn't make them wrong. But when it comes to this, and especially when it comes to other women who are deliberately, bilssfully ignorant about the shit that happens all around us, it's hard to keep a level head.

Case in point: my friend B. We have been friends for years and are used to each others' quirks. I was visiting her yesterday and while reading teh interwebz, I saw this post from Hoyden About Town and was bitching to her about the tendency of advertising to treat women as interchangeable body parts. Her response: "I don't care about that stuff. I'm not a feminist, Lemur, you know that." 
"Yes, B, you are. Do you like going to college? Choosing who to marry? Having a career? Owning property? Hell, getting to vote?? Feminists did that. You're a feminist."
"Okay, fine, but I'm not as much of one as you are. I don't care about that stuff, Lemur. I'm not angry about ads and commercials and stuff like you are- they don't affect me. I don't leave the house (and she really doesn't if she can help it), I don't watch TV or read magazines, I don't watch the news. That stuff is just depressing, and I'm happy where I am."

At this point I lose my patience. I tell her about the Global Gag rule, the HHS "conscience rule" that Shrub just passed, about 9 year old child brides in Afghanistan, about rape culture, about the effects of popular media. 
I finish with, "This stuff is allowed to happen because people don't want to worry about it. Because people sat back and didn't care about it, until at some point we realize we've lost all our rights, we're in too deep, and there's no way to fix it. 
Maybe you don't care about these ads, but they care about you! They make you into a demographic, a commodity, an object. This stuff affects how the world sees you, and even though you don't realize it, they affect how you see the world! Your boyfriend, in the other room? He's a good guy, yeah. These "stupid, unimportant ads and stuff" affect how sees you, and me, and himself. No one is immune. This IS important, and someone has to care about it."

I can see by her face that she feels that I'm lecturing her, trying to browbeat her. I can tell she's annoyed, put out, not listening. She doesn't understand, and I feel like crying. I don't know what I can say, what the magic words of realization might be. I can't make her care, but I am baffled that she doesn't. How can any woman not care about this?

I feel as though I am telling her: "The house is on fire! We have to do something!" And she only says: "I am in my room, the door is closed, and it's not warm in here at all."