As I have noted previously, feminism is the assertion that men are evil and naturally want to harm women, followed by pleas to men to solve all of women’s problems.
Feminism is also about the desire to be first, to be the woman who blazes the trail for other women. Feminists set out to attain a goal so that they can show other women that they too can attain the goal, so that still other women will know that they can attain the goal as well. This is a never ending process; it has to continue forever, as feminism is all about empowering women to break barriers.
Obviously the need to continue the claim of breaking barriers requires that the definition of what is pioneering be stretched to ridiculous proportions. Fortunately feminists are quite comfortable accepting the ridiculous as trail blazing, and have been from the very beginning. In June of 1928 Amelia Earhart attained her status of feminist trailblazer by being the first female passenger on a transatlantic flight. This made her the feminist equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, earning her the nicknames of “Lady Lindy” and “Queen of the Air”.
We still see this today. In 2012 Anne Marie Slaughter wrote about the obstacles she faced as the “first woman director of policy planning at the State Department”. While she was in fact the first woman with that specific job title, she reported to a female Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton was herself a pioneer, as she was only the third woman to serve as Secretary of State. This made Secretary Clinton the first woman to be the third female U.S. Secretary of State.
More recently a pregnant hooker came up with a brilliant way to advertise her professional services, by declaring on her brothel’s blog that she too was blazing the trail for other women (emphasis mine).
…if society already looks down on me for being a working girl (even though legal), you can imagine what they will probably think of a pregnant working girl! Even other working girls sometimes look down on pregnant working girls. But I’ve never been one to let myself be intimidated by what others thought! It actually never occurred to me that I would stop working at the Bunny Ranch while I was pregnant…
I want to make a statement that supports the right of a woman to choose…to work as a prostitute while pregnant! I mean, for so many of you that know me, would you expect anything else? I am after all, 1000% open-minded, completely non-judgmental. And, if I can make it any easier for the next working girl to make the choice to work while expecting, then more power to her!
But feminist empowerment isn’t just for the tabloids. This weekend Lily Cohen posted a guest blog for Scientific American about her trailblazing experience as a woman peeing in the woods during winter. Salon saw the trailblazing article and republished it as: “Long live the patriarchy”: One more barrier faced by women in science. Cohen recounts how she bravely and repeatedly peed her pants, preparing the way for other women (emphasis mine):
Last week I peed all over myself in the name of studying climate change in Alaska. Gender barriers in science don’t always take an obvious form, and they get especially perilous in below-zero temperatures. Some of these involve individual’s malice or misogyny, but there is another set of barriers that simply result from being a woman in a male dominated field. If we continue ignoring those additional challenges by striving for equality instead of equity, the barriers will persist.
I wish I could explain to my male colleagues the combined feelings of failure and humiliation that accompany walking bowlegged in soggy bottoms back into my house. Pee dripped off the ends my pajamas and onto the rug where people stomp their boots.
…I’m guessing the men I work with do not have a pair of pants they designate as “the pair of pants I wear when I am going to pee all over myself.”
Cohen decided to do something about this problem, so that other women won’t leave a trail of pee when they follow in her footsteps. Carrying forward the great feminist tradition of Amelia Earhart, Cohen knows that the best way to navigate the path to feminist empowerment is to be carried in the strong protective arms of men. While Cohen wasn’t able to master the ability to pee in the woods, she could do something better. She could nag men to fix the problem for her, and this is exactly what her Scientific American post did:
Starting at my two bosses and going up the chain of command that ends in the President of the University, every position is held by a white male. I firmly believe in the good intentions of each of those individuals, but I am not surprised when policies and practices are inequitable or missing perspectives.
Lily Cohen is a Research Professional at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she studies snow, permafrost and long term weather patterns. She also writes policies and creates opportunities for conversations about making field research a safer and more inclusive working environment.
I have no doubt that Cohen’s expectations will be met, and the goal of the article will be successful. Surely Chancellor Dana Thomas and the other men of the evil patriarchy will do whatever it takes to solve her problem. This way Cohen (and the women who follow her, and the women who follow them, etc) can get back to living the dream of breaking the barrier and triumphantly becoming one of the guys, as the appropriately placed beer advertisement in the Salon article depicts: