Shirley the Sheepish Feminist

So, I think I’m a feminist. Maybe. Kinda. Probably a lot. I’m not sure. Honestly, I’m not terribly schooled in women’s studies or the feminist movement, so I’m kinda wingin’ it here. So, I think I should do what I always do when I’m unsure about something: ask Google.

Asking Google: Am I a feminist?

Google, in its omniscience, directed me to Wikipedia, which says that

A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women.”[3]

and also that

Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.

and

They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women.

By those parameters, I’d absolutely say I’m a feminist. Why do I have this lingering feeling that “feminist” is a dirty word? Where did I get that from? Because, really, I can’t NOT want equality for women. I can’t NOT want to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. And, by golly, I think that women should have rights in the workplace, and that boobs shouldn’t keep them from getting good jobs, and that they should have the same pay opportunities as their dude counterparts. These are all no-brainers…so why am I such a chicken about it?

I’d like to be Melanie the Magnificent Feminist, but…I’m not really magnificent. I’m more kind of terrified. And timid. I’m more Shirley the Sheepish Feminist (not that Shirleys are weak, I just like alliteration.) It sucks.

Case in point: I’m so sad to say it, but I’m kinda pissed off at Jerry Seinfeld.

And I like that guy a lot. I think he’s really funny and awesome. I loved Comedian (have you seen it? It’s good.). In it, Seinfeld is humble and hard-working, even after years of his staggering success. He connects with his craft in a really beautiful way. And he’s hilarious. There’s no arguing that. It’s a pretty kick-ass flick.

But then…he comes out with his new show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” which premieres on Crackle.com tomorrow. It’s a simple show that looks really funny—it’s Seinfeld driving around with different comedians, getting coffee and chatting. I’m sure there will be GREAT moments in the show. But as I watched the two trailers for it, I noticed something was missing: women. There’s more than half a dozen comedians in the trailers and not a single one is female.

Really? Shouldn’t it be called “Dude Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”? Or “Comedians with Penises in Cars Getting Coffee”? I mean, just to be clear about it? Because there are a ton of funny women out there. Funny women that Seinfeld has worked with over the years.

Where are the women?!

And this is about where I start to feel pretty sheepish about things. I hear that voice pipe up that says that I shouldn’t need to see women everywhere. Why is it important to have women in a silly comedy show? Why does it matter? Can’t Seinfeld just do what he wants? Aren’t you being too sensitive? (Also, you can’t be funny and witty and fun AND be a feminist. Everyone knows feminists are a bunch of downers.)

And, I dunno. Maybe I am being too sensitive. Like I said, I’m a terrible feminist—I’m just starting to really explore it. But I’ve got this feeling in my gut that if one of the best comedians of the last 30 years has a show that highlights other comedians that he deems valuable, and none of them are women, the message is that women aren’t capable of being in that class of talent; women don’t make the cut. And I hear that message all too much.

After the message that we don’t make the cut, comes the message that we’re lesser-than. And after that, it’s that we should be sexy to get what we want. Then it’s that if you’re sexy, you should expect to get ogled. And then…and then after that…? The path is long, and windy, and shitty, and it paves the way for girls and women everywhere to think less of themselves; to expect less for themselves; and to silently take abuse. It’s a tired song and I’m sick of hearing it. What’s more, I don’t want my daughter to ever hear it.

So, even with that voice inside telling me to pipe down and stop being such an entitled shrew, I just can’t do it. It bothers me. I want to see women succeeding and being valued so that I can feel like I can succeed too. I want my daughter (hell, all daughters) to grow up in a world that doesn’t limit women, define them, reduce them or abuse them because of their gender.

And so I’m posting this complaint about the ab-fab Jerry Seinfeld and his inability to hunt down even one, good, female comedian. Come on, Jerry. You can do it. Please, oh, please prove me wrong on this one. Don’t be one of those guys.

What do you think? Am I being “too sensitive” or is this something we’re way overdue in changing? Cough up those opinions, peeps.

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196 Comments

  1. Hi, I came here from a Re-blog on Skyride’s blog. And I am glad I did. Because you have put in words my exact predicament !

    I used to shout from rooftops about my feminist leanings. Then, I got married and few people from my husband’s family would act funny when I exposed my feminist bent. Most people would not say it out openly, but one particular male relative asked me stay away from his to-be wife!!! I am not an all-man-hater kind of feminist but after this, I started noticing people’s low acceptance levels for my thoughts, and by extension, me. I have a son now. And somewhere in between all this, my predicament surfaced.

    It is a constant effort to strike a balance; one you have described perfectly here. Thank you!

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  2. Really cool post. I think we should really pay more attention to the subliminal messages that media sends. These subtle things influence us in a way. It makes us think that there is nothing wrong with this kind of picture, and, sadly, that picture paints a reality that excludes women.

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  3. Reblogged this on Sustainable Seeds and commented:
    My posts over the past five weeks about empowerment of women lead me to think of feminism. What role does feminism play in this movement? Is feminism just another word that is said so often that it loses all meaning, or is overly implicated with stigma that it no longer serves today’s efforts toward female empowerment?

    I think Melanie Crutchfield does a good job at articulating the word feminism and what it can mean to most women these days. I didn’t know about Jerry’s movies, but I can completely identify with her sense of female inequality that symbolized in Jerry’s movie.
    If you are a female reading this, what are some other instances where you’ve felt left out or unequal? What do you think this says about our culture and where it’s headed in the future? Is this a sustainable message to females?

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  4. Hallo Melanie!
    I’m a brand new baby blogger and I liked this article a lot so I wrote a response to it. It’s basically reasons why you should be a proud feminist.
    I haven’t really had anyone reading my blog yet because I don’t want my friends to see it. I’m kind of starting fresh!
    I’d be very happy if you could read it, I promise I won’t spam you or anything!
    Here: http://nutaliuh.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/porn-i-mean-feminism/
    Thanks! And keep up the lovely work!

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  5. jackiewackysticker

     /  July 24, 2012

    When ever you hear that voice in your head, the one telling you to lighten up and calling you a shrew? Yeah, that’s a man’s voice, or some woman who is too afraid of her own power. Just tell ‘em to shut up and go home. You’ve got too many important feminist things to say!

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  6. Mitch

     /  July 23, 2012

    Feminism has become a dirty word because the most obvious and sensible aspects of it have been largely absorbed into mainstream thought. This is a good sign, as people now mostly take for granted things that would have been oddities a few generations ago – for example, that there’s more to a woman than getting married and having kids. And so on.

    Because those things are no longer seen as “feminist”, then what is now considered “feminist” is all the leftover stuff that is too radical to be easily accepted. That includes the stuff that comes across as unnecessarily man-hating, or that sees everything only through the dichotomy of woman as victim and man as oppressor.

    “But I’ve got this feeling in my gut that if one of the best comedians of the last 30 years has a show that highlights other comedians that he deems valuable, and none of them are women, the message is that women aren’t capable of being in that class of talent; women don’t make the cut. And I hear that message all too much.”

    I take no joy in saying this, but comedy is just one of those fields that for whatever reason, men tend to outperform women. (As an example, the HBO special “Talking Funny” featured a conversation between Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais and Louis CK. There are just no women who are in that class, unfortunately.) There are some brilliantly funny women out there, but they are seriously outnumbered by brilliantly funny men. But another factor – and I’ll admit that this perhaps shapes my opinion – is that female comedians tend to cover topics that are different to male comedians. Female comedians tend to spend a lot of time joking about things that men struggle to relate to, and that could explain why Seinfeld doesn’t include them amongst the people he most vibes with.

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    • Outnumber? Yes. Outperform? Hmm. I think a lot of people (especially these crazy talented women) would differ on that point. Thanks for your comment!

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  7. You are preaching to the choir, sista!!

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  8. Alyssa

     /  July 22, 2012

    A great entry, what can I say. I don’t agree with you but I cannot say that I’m against your point of view. I guess you are just being too sensitive for that matter. Honestly, I like how you deliver your thoughts on feminism here. Well, done. :D

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  9. Reblogged this on Women Sublime and commented:
    This is a great and light way of looking at the issue of feminism. This article is a great way of letting you discover your view on feminism. I hope everyone enjoys reading this as much as i did. Congratulations Melanie Crutchfield ! You surely enlightened and inspired more women through your article!

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  10. As an active feminist myself, I loved how you presented feminism in a very light way. Kudos! So love your style! More power!

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  11. I consider myself a feminist and I HATE when people try to make it something negative. I loved Seinfeld, but I think that jerry has become kind of stuffy as he’s gotten older. Oh well, I probably won’t be watching dudes driving with coffee.

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  12. I feel like those Google type definitions make EVERY woman a feminist… I mean, I’m not for sexual assault, and I’m pretty sure no other woman is so wouldn’t that make all of us feminists?

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  13. This is an amazing post. It warmed my heart to see you make your way to feminism this way. We all have our perspectives and voices to add to feminism, even the sheepish ones. I was once a sheepish feminist myself, and I’m glad to see the light in another heart turning on. We need to love each other and work toward equality, because that is the core of feminism. Welcome to the family!

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  14. I’ve done a lot of research lately on why feminism is so frowned upon, when it supports something that a lot of people actually advocate for, and I’ve come up with that feminism no longer is defined by what its dictionary definition- it’s defined by those who wrongly call themselves feminists when they’re actually female chauvinists. Female chauvinism is bad and just as sexist as misogyny. Which is now why feminism tends to be defined as “women who think women are better than men” instead of “people who think all people should be treated equally in the context of a patriarchal society.” It’s terribly unfortunate! And I don’t think you’re wrong or being overly sensitive about the new Seinfeld show. It’s not just this show. It’s just about every television series or movie or book or video game or any form of media, really. They’re all men’s stories, with men characters with maybe a supporting token female or two who is used painfully as a trope, instead of an actual character.

    If you can get your hands on a copy of Missrepresentation, I HIGHLY recommend watching it! It really puts it into perspective why sexism in the media- not just towards women- is so prominent and is such a problem. Otherwise, I would check out Feminist Frequency, she makes really fantastic videos criticizing pop culture from a feminist (not female chauvinist!) perspective.

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    • You’re spot on there Kayla. There are so many feminists out there that are actually female chauvinists, to the point that my experience with them puts them in the majority. Just as bad are the men who feel that this is true feminism and that they must bow down before it in order to not be male chauvinists.

      The thing I’ve noticed about a lot of female chauvinists is that they love the good treatment they get from inequality and only want equality in the ways they’re treated badly. An example I could give was the woman who got on the bus, loudly complaining on her phone about some guy in her job being paid more, shot me a filthy look because I didn’t get up and hand over my seat to her. Now granted, she wasn’t to know that my spine was in pieces at that time. And granted, she didn’t have to stand for long as an elderly man gave up his seat for her. But the fact remains that she was complaining about suffering from inequality and yet expected inequality to work in her favour as well.

      I’m all for actual equality between the sexes, but as you say there are a lot of people who think that equality means taking the gender (or race or religion or whatever) that has been held down and putting it on top. It’s a vicious cycle that humanity seems to love putting itself into at the slightest excuse. Those people get in the way of the actual message of equality and, as they tend to be the most obnoxious ones, their voices tend to be louder too until they’re all we hear.

      On the topic of the post itself – is the message really that women don’t belong in the same talent pool? We’re going from the fact that the first two shows in a web series of shorts feature men in their one to one chats yet we don’t know the cast of the series yet. If the third show features a woman will that make things all right again? As far as I know these are friends of Seinfeld’s that have volunteered for this (I may be wrong) and Julia Louise Dreyfuss is currently in an actual successful show for the first time since Seinfeld. It could easily be that he doesn’t know any other women in the business who were willing to come on the show. Naive maybe, but possible.

      Personally I think it’s more likely that he’s going through his close friends first and people do tend to get closer to people of the same gender as friends pre-internet at least. It’s likely that we’ll see some funny women showing up as the show takes off, he runs low on friends and starts to mine the actual talent pools rather than relying on those who will help him anyway.

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  15. Totally agree with you here. Feminism shouldn’t be a word with negative connotations yet in this day and age it still seems to have them. I definitely think women as a whole should stand up for our rights, even if it does seem to be for trivial matters!

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  16. I definitely don’t think you’re being too sensitive. We think feminism is a dirty word because of extremists (and, let’s face it: in many situations/movements that have extremists, people sympathetic to the cause feel embarrassed to align themselves with it) and because we don’t want to get labeled as something we’re not. Most feminists are not man-haters and people who don’t really understand what feminism is about think that is the case. But I am wholeheartedly for women’s rights, equality, safety, etc.

    I was that girl in high school who would get a bit ticked off with the female English teacher who would specifically ask for boys in the class to help carry books from the book room because it would be heavy. (I was definitely stronger than some of those guys!)

    Good for you for posting about it! And an extra high five for doing it for the future generations; we need to show young girls that we are worth it and that we shouldn’t let men push us around just because we don’t have penises.

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  17. You might find this video interesting, as it lays out one possible explanation for why so many women and men believe in equality, but are uncomfortable with the word feminist. While I wouldn’t say I agree will everything she says, the broad explanation makes a lot of sense.

    More about the video can be found here: http://www.feministfrequency.com/2011/09/tropes-vs-women-6-the-straw-feminist/

    It includes links to articles that explore the issue further and their are some interesting alternative perspectives in the comments section – especially on why women who are not white and middle class may feel alienated from the word feminism.

    Personally, I think saying, “I’m a feminist.” is like saying, “I’m religious.” it expresses a broad general sense of how you feel about the world and interact with it, but what it specifically means for any two individuals can be vastly different. Still, having said that I am aware that words like ‘feminist’ or ‘religious’ are not neutral and they also explode as cultural hot spots.

    Good luck trying to sort it all out. :)

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  18. I want to pose a question to you on the topic of equality – not just of the sexes, because inequality exists between all individuals. (For clarification, I am NOT talking about equality before the law, which I is absolutely necessary.):

    What is the only way you can create equality between individuals?

    It doesn’t matter if we are looking at equality in the sense of opportunity or results; the fact is, the only way to aim for either of these is by oppressing others. I understand that at first glance it sounds idiotic and inhumane to say that; nevertheless, it’s true. Consider for a moment that you have two children; one is able to see and the other is blind. The only way to create equality between the two is by restricting the one with vision. It’s true no matter what the advantage is.

    In the case of Seinfeld’s new show consider this: Seinfeld is looking for, what he considers, the best talent to put on his show. The six (going with your approximation of a half-dozen) best comedians he found all happen to be male. To say that he has to put a woman would be oppressive to both Seinfeld and the comedian she would be replacing. Seinfeld would have to lower the quality of the show to fit in, what he believes, is subpar talent. The comedian being replaced will be forced to miss out on what could be considered an opportunity of a lifetime all in the name of equality. I think it’s much more simple than that though. The bottom line is that it’s Seinfeld’s show, so he should be able to put whoever he wants on it and those who disagree with it can watch something else. Imagine if it were your show and the best talent you could find happened to all be women: How would you feel if someone told you that you had to put a man in it?

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  19. faersay

     /  July 22, 2012

    Found you at random, love the post. I don’t watch TV anyway, but don’t SOME men and SOME women act like the other sex don’t exist? Well, that’s their problem, surely. :)

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  20. Reblogged this on Acquiesce.

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  21. I have always been a feminist (in fact humanitarian) all my life. Like you said, if you were to think about what these terms mean, it shouldn’t be so surprising for any intellectual person to see that it’s only natural to want equal behavior to all the human beings on earth. It always made me sad rather angry that there was somehow a negative connotation attached to the word feminist. I’m not saying it’s okay for a guy to see it that way, but at least it’s understandable given that human beings are selfish by nature that a guy would not necessarily think about the sometimes big and sometimes subtle discrimination women have to face. However, what baffles me is a lot of women either don’t see or somehow neglect these kind of issues simply because of the fear of being associated with these seemingly bad words. It’s as if all the fight that our feminist ancestors fought was for nothing.

    As far as the representation of women in certain things go, sure it might just be a coincidence in certain cases that women are not represented well due to sheer lack of proper competition from women in those particular fields. Even if we cannot say for sure why women are not represented in a particular TV show, we can safely say that women often are not represented well even in the fields where there are comparatively a large number of successful women. Also, unlike how some people commented in this post, I don’t see being labeled as sexy all the time is a good thing. Sure, in certain occasions, for example while you are in a bed with your partner, you may wanna be called sexy or hot. However, let’s say someone’s professor at school limits a girl’s existence to being sexy, and her sexiness or a lack of it defines who she is rather than her other attributes, then that definitely should not be welcomed.

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  22. Sexism is alive and well. Embrace feminism.

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  23. Michelle McLean

     /  July 21, 2012

    GREAT thoughts, Melanie. I am an unapologetic feminist, and I am also grateful that God made me a woman. I did my doctoral thesis on successful female superintendents because there were so few of them, although our ranks are growing. One thing I discovered is that, oftentimes, it is, ironically, other WOMEN who try to keep us down…something called the “Queen Bee Syndrome”. I am blessed to have two daughters and a granddaughter (of course, and my five grandsons :-)) who, no doubt, are feminists too, and I, too, want a different kind of world for them. I am also blessed to have a husband who finds my intelligence, strength, power, and humor “sexy”…and he reminds me of this frequently :-). PLEASE keep on writing.

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  24. DawnielleC

     /  July 21, 2012

    LOVE this. You make your points very simply, I could learn a thing or two from you. I am in my starting stages of feminism too. Don’t try to hush the voice that says “you’re being too loud, pushy, rude, etc.” but sit with it and try to figure out where that voice is coming from. Chances are, like me, you will realize that that message is subtly reinforced in almost all of the “popular culture” that we consume on the daily, your daughter included if she participates in it. Most valuable thing a woman can do to be a feminist is find strength in her voice and you seem to have done so! For a man to be a feminist it is valuable to allow the woman to speak for herself.

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  25. I’m right there with ya Shirley ;)

    I too worry about the ‘feminist’ label. I much prefer to call myself and ‘advocate’ – sounds so much less threatening, less volatile because I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ girls. I guess I too am exploring how I feel about it.

    Stopping by from SITS and SO glad I did! New follower here ;)

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  26. I have a new title/label that can apply to anyone. I am no b*ll sh *t human being who refuses to sit back and witness abuse, disenfranchisement and cruelty to the little guy and/or little girl. If you read my blog, you will see plethora of injustices we are all guilty of.

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  27. Your post made me think of an article written by Christopher Hitchens for Vanity Fair in January 2007. It’s called ‘Why women aren’t funny’….not sure if it’s anti-feminist or not, but it sure was a fun read :)
    Give it a shot! http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701

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  28. Well said! Fantastic post! Thank you so much for writing this. My mother raised me with feminist ideologies and it wasn’t until college that I realized others saw it as a “dirty word”. Best, e.v.

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  29. Not sure where I weigh in on the Seinfeld issue, but just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your post. I think a lot of women these days feel “sheepish” or uncertain about defining themselves as feminists, perhaps because previous generations did fight so hard that discrimination and misogyny are not as apparent as they would have been to our feminist foremothers. I think part of it too might come from a fear of pitting oneself against a patriarchal society, which for some people can include their community, religious group, family and workplace. Own the label! There’s nothing wrong with a feminist; a feminist is just a person who wants the same rights as any other person. White males are particularly unable to relate to this, but if they were in a society where they were discriminated against they would get angsty too!

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  30. Great post! I am a card-carrying feminist and do not understand why or how feminist has become a dirty word! Marissa Mayer, the new (pregnant) CEO of Yahoo, has declared she is not a feminist. And why should she be because it’s somehow thought to be a negative. Every woman should believe that women should be equally represented – with equal pay – in the workforce. Everyone should want to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. I really don’t get it. Keep up the great writing!

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  31. messyme

     /  July 20, 2012

    I guess I have been a feminist all my life as it came naturally to me being raised the way I was. Beating up my brother when he needed it is an example. He finally got big enough it got to be a real challenge and I gave up. I have worked with men in a chemical manufacturing plant and now I work at a power plant. I have to work for the respect I get, but love it and I don’t take too much #$%^ off them guys and they know it.

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  32. I love this post, you are a gifted writer. Great Blog.
    cheers Judy :)
    judysp.wordpress.com

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  33. “Feminism” and “the Feminist” as concepts are ones that have been part of my life for a long time, I just never realized it. I always knew, as you also said in regards to your own experiences, that I was never for the subjugation of women. But it’s a whole nother step to declare to the world “I AM A FEMINIST”. It has such negative connotations sometimes, and to stand up for gender equity is to be, as you said, too sensitive (who woulda thought?). In response to what you’re declaring/asking here, Feminism, I think, is part of the evolution of the individual. I know that I’ve always stood up for women’s rights, my own rights, the rights of the women before me and in the past, but I didn’t always know that I was a feminist. Most women aren’t raised to be “feminists” in a world centered around patriarchal thought, but making a difference in the future starts with little instances and thoughts like you mention here.

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  34. mandyf

     /  July 20, 2012

    Reblogged this on LGBT Nation.

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  35. Like you, I only recently started to accept that I’m a feminist. I realize now that the reason I didn’t want to identify myself as one before is because I’d got the definition of it wrong. I’d always thought of feminism as being a movement to take men down a peg, for women to get a one-up on men.
    But I’m so glad I’ve seen how wrong I was. BUT I still feel embarrassed to admit it to most people, and haven’t dared mention it to my closest friends, as I’ve heard them laughing and joking about how it’s stupid. I plan on trying to change the perception of it… soon.

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  36. I’m so happy to see this in Freshly Pressed, Feminism is a word that needs reclaiming. I just graduated from Duke, and in April, a group of Duke women started a “Who Needs Feminism?” campaign that has gone global. (Check it out here: http://whoneedsfeminism.tumblr.com/ and here: http://www.facebook.com/WhoNeedsFeminism) It’s sparked so much controversy, that it became immediately apparent that we all need feminism. I love the post – thanks for writing it, from one recently self-identified feminist to another.

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  37. I am a recent Proud to be a Feminist, I didn’t really understood what it meant either until I had a real long talk with my Grandma. She actively fought in the movement. Everywhere I look now I am disgusted at how common the media portrays women as weak sex objects and nothing more. Thank you for writing this, thank you for raising your voice. We need more people to speak up.

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  38. Reblogged this on screaming about everything and commented:
    I am no stranger to the chiding voice in my head that tells me my dissatisfaction and/or displeasure is a shrewish, bitchy impulse. It’s not. If something doesn’t sit right with you, say something. Nothing will change until we start asking questions and holding each other accountable.

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  39. I am with you on some of these things. I am for equal employment of women, there are some who could do my job way better than I can. What I think is happening here is that we’re over analyzing the TV show. By the logic that women are simply not in the trailer that they are being discriminated against and that this TV show has a fundamental wrong in it would also mean to say that if there are no people of Asian descent that they are also being discriminated against. And to the comment that there is only a token black guy, what about specifying further, there are only people of Western European and Jewish descent on here what about mixing in a White person from Ukraine. Obviously this is another group we are not representing. Also I’ve noticed that the author has not responded to one (though they are decidedly very few) comments that disagree with her finding an anti-feminist sentiment here. Seinfeld is also great friends with the Seinfeld co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

    Quick Re-Cap
    -I (a white male) consider myself a feminist and would vote for any legislation giving women equal rights
    -I admit that men and women are dead even, one gender is not better than the other
    -I think we’re over thinking, you know… a commercial

    Sincerely,
    Your Friendly Neighborhood moderate

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  40. I would say you’re totes not being oversensitive. I know that voice. We have met (more than a few times), and I am learning (slowly) to turn it off. I think that really, questioning where that voice comes from is important. The voice itself is a product (I think) of women being told to sit down and shut up, that any complaint is, well, shrewish. Women are automatically expected to be satisfied.
    One of the marks of privilege is being able to look anywhere and find people like you. When you notice an absence of women, you are noticing male privilege. Don’t be ashamed. It’s important to speak up.

    Welcome to the club.

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  41. I grew up in the 1970s when “feminist” really was a dirty word. I remember my mother always muttering “those dumb feminists!”, and my grandmother saying “oh, why don’t those dumb feminists stop trying to be men!” It stuck in my mind. I didn’t know why these women were “dumb”. I didn’t even know who the “dumb feminists” actually were. But, I knew that being a “feminist” would make you dumb! And, I definitely didn’t want to be a man! So therefore, I definitely didn’t want to be a “feminist”! I remember seeing news stories that showed “feminists” chained to a fence, screaming through megaphones, or marching around like angry militants in parades. I didn’t want to act like that. Maybe feminists were like that once. Maybe they had to be? Or, maybe, it was all an inaccurate stereotype conveniently portrayed and exaggerated by uneasy male newsmen. (?) ;)
    I actually don’t know. The 70s are (thankfully) all a bit of blur.

    Times have changed. At this point, I personally think ALL women living in our modern world are “feminists”, whether we use the word or not. There’s no longer a “segregation”. We embrace our right to be heard. We succeed and achieve. We do the best we can to assert ourselves in awkward male-dominated situations. We develop our talents, build careers, raise our voices (like HERE for example), and promote our worth. Whether we are doing so inside or outside the walls of our own home, whether we are mothers, daughters, sisters, single or married. We choose to stand up for ourselves. We dare to question authority figures who demean womanhood in any form. We champion our sisters in the world who don’t have a voice. We notice “sins of commission” as well as “sins of omission” (aka Seinfeld) and we articulately and maturely call them out. By whatever name we choose to do all of these things, “Mollie” or “Shirley”, we are women and therefore we are part of a unique sisterhood that desires to protect womanhood. To me anyway, that is the new definition of “feminist”; Smart and Sexy.
    Good post. Glad you were Freshly Pressed! – MoSop

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  42. every woman should be a feminist – glad you got the ball rolling again
    I was often call a womens’ libber back in the seventies – I was proud of the label then and i am proud of it now
    I have always been confused by the fact that anyone anywhere at any time has thought or thinks that women are not “equal”; equal to whom–I was brought up never thinking that I was different from my brothers and that I did not have an equal opportunity in the world

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  43. So this is where all the real women are. Can I be a sheep too? I’ve got a killer BAA!

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  44. If you have not already seen it or it has not already been recommended to you, watch Miss Representation. It is a great look at the way women are seen in society. I give you fair warning, though, it will piss you off.

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  45. Reblogged this on katy brandes writes and commented:
    This young lady makes a lot of sense. I can’t wait for the day when all women proudly embrace being feminists.

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  46. I know exactly what you mean! For whatever reason I feel as though I have to be something, DO something MORE to be anything “ist”. I thought I can’t be a feminist unless I’m actively opposing something, walking around with a sign, or circulating a petition. But…if what you say is true…if I can be “sheepish” and still be an “ist”, then, heck yeah!

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  47. “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” Rebecca West

    Guilty as charged and proud of it. It’s the embedded patriarchal nature of society that stays in your subconscious and tells you not to speak up or claim your feminism. Women have to support each other and help all the daughters (and sons) not buy into the patriarchy b.s. Never makes excuses for yourself. Thanks for this post!

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  48. Never, ever be ashamed to call yourself a feminist. Men, you can be one, too. All it means is you want equal treatment for women. It does NOT mean you want special or better treatment. This post was brilliant. I’m so glad this is Freshly Pressed because it’s bringing attention to an important topic. Rock on!

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  49. First of all, you’re not being oversensitive at all. In fact, I find it a little hard to swallow that someone who very articulately argues her point of why Jerry Seinfeld’s choice to not include a woman comedian on his show is problematic also has to ask herself the question, “Am I a feminist?” I think you’ve highlighted a bigger problem than the lack of women in Seinfeld’s show with this post: people are still afraid of the “f-word.” The word “feminist” has gotten a really bad rap, and while I can follow the chronological trajectory and changes in political thought that led us there, I still don’t get it. The problem is that women are afraid to identify with a term that could make them a turnoff for some guys and the society that is dictated by them (I know I’m oversimplifying here, but you get my point). You are of course a feminist, for all the reasons you listed above. And you shouldn’t be ashamed to say so. That’s where a lot of my work focuses, making people understand that it’s not shameful to say you’re a feminist, so thank you very much for this article.

    And welcome to the club… ;) We’re very happy to have you.

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    • That is really true. People use “feminist” just as if they would use “terrorist” or “extremist” or even “chauvinist”. But in the true sense of the word, “feminist” is about putting down the oppression of women through domestic violence, sexual abuse, limited working benefits, etc. It is about doing the right thing.

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  50. Nothing wrong with you that you’re a little shy about adopting a particular title. Doesn’t make your feelings or beliefs any less valuable. ‘Feminist’ like so many other titles and groups gets viewed negatively because someone, somewhere along the line did something crazy or over the line and claimed it in the name of ‘Feminism’. Then other people saw and started doing similar things, and now it’s likely to be negatively viewed publicly.
    More to the point of what you were saying, nothing frustrates me more than the perception that women or minorities aren’t good enough for something, especially in the workplace. Most people don’t realize they’re doing it, which makes the situation worse.

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  51. Congratulations on overcoming all the negative stereotypes about “feminists” and claiming the word as your own! Once you start to consume media critically, you begin noticing a lack of female representation everywhere – not just in Seinfeld’s new show, but in aa whoooole lot of shows/movies/newsmagazines, etc. Women are either decoration or manic pixie dream girls or props that serve some plot-furthering purpose for the main, male character (with which both male AND female viewers are meant to identify). A really good blog that talks about this kind of stuff is Sociological ImagesSociological Images (and of course my own, Rainbow ReverieRainbow Reverie :P ).

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  52. Don’t know if you heard this review the other night on NPR’s Fresh Air of Caitlin Moran’s book How to Be a Woman. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/18/156856370/a-little-advice-on-how-to-be-a-woman There’s a little test at the end of the review that will help all of your readers know if they’re feminists. I’m definitely one by her definition! Great post and I think what we’re doing is redefining “feminist” for today. Thanks for your help in doing that.

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    • Thanks Susanna! I’ve had several people recommend the book to me, but I couldn’t hunt down the NPR story, just the page on their website, so thanks!

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  53. Nope. Not too sensitive at all. Listen to your gut. *says a complete stranger who’s been a feminist since the ’70s* :) P.S. Feminist is an awesome label to claim for yourself. Look into its history!

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  54. LOVE. I’m hoping to get a lot of feminist-themed posts on my blog eventually, because I’ve always had this niggly little feeling about this, ever since I was a teenager – I had loads of emotions and opinions on this stuff but didn’t know how to articulate it properly. Then I went to uni and studied a module on Feminist and Gender literature and I’m completely sold on it now. I’m a feminist and there is nothing wrong with it – although I agree that there are STILL these negative connotations and people that roll their eyes or switch off if I so much as mention the dreaded ‘F’ word.

    Definitely read ‘How to Be a Woman’ because Caitlin Moran has been one of my idols for bloody ages and she hits the nail on the head. Germaine Greer is still a God but The Female Eunuch is a bit out of date now, though still worth reading for its worth at the time it was written.

    I’m in my early twenties but there are a lot of girls my age who won’t listen to me or think I’m a bitchy ranting bra-burner, even when there isn’t any aggression in what I say, simply common sense. People need to bring up their kids with the correct, positive definition of Feminism for any awkwardness surrounding it to disappear.

    Aarggh I could go on forever about this!

    Really well written post :)

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  55. well composed..:)

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  56. Enjoyed your post! Hope you do share it with the producers of the show, maybe Jerry Seinfeld and his team will listen. A similar call for better if not equal representation was made to The Daily Show a while back, resulting in a beautiful statement from the women who work on the show. Maybe, as another post alluded to, there’s more going on behind the scenes. You’re also touching on the nature of comedy and the nature of feminism. Jennifer L. Pozner features 9 comedians’ takes on the topic — worth a read at The Daily Beast (7/18/12), if you haven’t seen it already.

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  57. Saw something on a repeat of QI the other day, there are loads of female comedians but their subjects in stand-ups tends to be ‘being a woman’ whereas men don’t talk about ‘being a man’. It’s as though being a woman should be considered funny. Not sure why. Also apparently women laugh more, but they laugh more at men.

    http://mystudentstruggles.wordpress.com

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  58. frizbeee

     /  July 20, 2012

    Gosh, I read what you have to say and it was almost like I was talking! I’m probably Tiara the Timid feminist then :(

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  59. Reblogged this on Life on the Margins and commented:
    Amusing post with 1 part self-doubt and 2 parts straightforwardness. I dig it.

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  60. aimeerebecca

     /  July 20, 2012

    I’m a feminist. I studied feminism for my English Literature A-level and became completely interested in it. Thank you for your post, it was a really good read :D

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  61. Chris

     /  July 20, 2012

    An interesting post, indeed and in general I concur. What I however do think is appropriate is the missing of female comedians in Jerry’s show. It is of course totally ok to point this out but, and that is why I have to thank your brother Matt for his latest post, you are missing something here. Jerry may just be car & coffee friend with man. Or may be the idea of driving around and drinking coffee does not attract female comedians (I for one think it is stupid but that’s maybe just me being an European). If you really are genuinely interested in equality you should have asked why there are only WHITE man in the show. What ever the reason it would be interesting to know. By the way, when will you have contacted the producer?
    Equality amongst the genders (and/or ethnics?) (should have) has nothing to do with quotes or presence. Otherwise we really have a problem: probably 80-90% of all nurses world wide are female, 70-80% of all chefs are male, 80-90% of all fire fighters are male. And at least in Europe: more then 50% of all higher graduates are female nowadays (and I don’t think this will ever change). I for one don’t think we have a problem any longer regarding females not being able to evolve themselves. The problem as I see it is the denial and actually, passivity. Denial is about the fact that there ARE just some fundamental differences between man and woman. Unfortunately I have to be a bit general here but I guess you will get the point:
    – Men are physically stronger (and more thrill seeking, even if they deny it) then woman, therefore they make better fire fighters
    – Women have more compassion (especially regarding strange people in need they don’t know) therefore they make better nurses
    Or to make it even more basic:
    – Girls prefer skirts and dresses over trousers, vice versa boys

    According to my experience, the real problem many women are facing is: themselves. Yes of course, there are still (and always will be) some red necks out there, suppressing women, but hey that is a minority by now (at least in the “civilized” “western aka first world” => sorry Arabs, Africans and Texan’s) and any way, the world or better nature, is a cruel place. Women seem to have a certain passivity, which may or may not be related to them being less reckless then men but any way it is holding them back (but not men or obviously, not as much). I can give you two examples:
    My sister has been on maternity leave. Just a few days back on business, the salary negotiations take place. She hadn’t been gone long (16 weeks) and did perform well, went the extra mile. Nevertheless she didn’t got a raise (others got up to 5%). What does she do: nothing at first. She just thinks, well I probably haven’t deserved a raise. This is my point: most men at this point make their point clear, they don’t just accept it. My sister was of course deeply disappointed and after encouraging words from the family she talked to her boss again and got her 5% raise too. The other example is actually similar, but this time it happened to a “feminist” (Michèle Roten, blog.dasmagazin.ch for those of you knowing German or google translate :). Miss Roten did also feel treated unfair during her salary talk but she didn’t say anything neither. Both my sister and miss Roten are “modern” women, they no what they and, they usually take it.
    Now one could of course argue that bosses should be fair, but hey, live is (sometimes) an asshole (bitch seems, in the context of this blog, politically incorrect). So my advice to all women who feel (and may have been) treated unfairly or unequally: stand the hell up for your selves! Open your mouth, state your mind! You have more possibilities than any generation of women ever had, so stop complaining and USE them instead!!!!!!

    PS: I am (wed to a feminist…there you go) and father of two girls, the older one just LOVE’s skirts, dresses, princesses and anything in pink (the younger is less “girly”, except painting nails, then both go crazy).

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  62. Tatiana

     /  July 20, 2012

    I’ve also recently come to terms with the fact that ‘feminist’ is not a dirty word. I am one, and I’m proud of it. Women can be anything and everything they want. Great post!

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  63. Loved your perspective. While I do lean towards Melanie the Magnificent Feminist, I say no! You are not being too sensitive. If women are 52% of the population, it’s not too much to believe that one or two of us are talented enough to make into a video. Awesome article and good luck on your journey to finding your inner Melanie :)

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    • just noticed your name is actually Melanie bahaha, so instead good luck on your journey to owning the F-word (feminist obviously, I try to keep my sailor’s mouth off the internet. )

      xoxo,
      -E

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    • Just because my name is Melanie, doesn’t mean I’ve found my Melanie yet. (Bam! So profound!) Thanks so much for reading!

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  64. jennjenn23

     /  July 19, 2012

    Well.. You said you only saw the trailers so far. So there’s hope! I can’t say for sure but the male to female ratio doesn’t seem quite equal anyways. There seems to be quite a few more comedians that are male rather than female so that may contribute to the lack of females on his show and take into consideration they’d have to want to sit character she is actually a side kick to a man and shows her boobs at some point. I was just talking about this the other day in fact. People wonder why children are becoming sexually active at a young age, could it be that females Are shown at a young age that we are simply here to satisfy our men? It’s hard to be a feminist and not feel like a bitchy person, but of you think about it being made to feel that you are bitchy because you expect the same

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  65. Women is a thing that everybody use for show .. For that reason women can’t show their creativity everywhere. We have some restriction in our mind. We can’t do like men always. You said that boobs shouldn’t keep them from getting good jobs. But i have to say They always value for the boobs and never search for the creativity.. They don’t need to know what can we do. It will be happen and never be changed until the world’s end. thanks for your thoughtful article.

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  66. One of the most distinguishable characteristics only humans possess is our ability to see patterns where none exist.

    That is all…

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    • She didn’t notice a pattern, she pointed out one clear example of a lack of women. If you have a specific criticism it might be helpful to put specific words behind it rather than abstract witticisms. Or maybe you have a particular bias that disallows you from recognizing a legitimate point when it’s made. Either way, there’s more constructive ways to engage in public dialogue.

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    • I also see stars when I stand up too quickly. I’ve got all kinds of talent. (Or low blood pressure. One of the two.)

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  67. Leah

     /  July 19, 2012

    As a loud-and-proud Feminist, I’ve met tons of women like you–women who want movies to pass the Bechdel test, who want paternity leave for men with children, who want to be represented as human beings in the media. Join us!

    The “you’re just being sensitive!” is a bullshit excuse used by others to negate voices that question the status quo. I read a really great article about this recently on The Real Katie about how “lighten up” and “you’re too sensitive” are used just to deflect criticism of the treatment of women/minorities: http://therealkatie.net/blog/2012/mar/21/lighten-up/

    If you’re interested in reading more about gender issues in the news, check out my blog (odorunara.com). Shameless self-promotion aside, I write a lot about gender in the media, and it sounds like it might be a good resource for finding others who problematize the same issues you do. Also, if you haven’t yet, you might also like Sociological Images.

    It’s hard to retrain yourself not to refrain from calling out inequality where you see it. Thank you for writing this post, and congrats on being freshly pressed!

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  68. Love the post. reading the definition, most women are feminists, myself included. But. aside from the media portrayal of feminists that makes us think of it as a ‘dirty word’ it the the extreme women that don;t help the cause. Do we really have to go unshaven and be a hippy (mass generalisation) to put a point across? Work smart. There are better ways of getting fair rights etc for women.

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  69. Feminism has evolved, just like everything else. We need to redefine the word and embrace it.

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  70. This is an excellent post and an excellent point. Feminist shouldn’t be a dirty word and yet it feels like it, and that just isn’t right.

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  71. Good to know that even with the serious stuff, you still get your point across with tons-o-intelligence.

    Just another reason, you know?

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  72. Thanks for the article, just read it and it is so true! I also did end up writing a post in response to yours (thanks for your honesty on the matter, it really got me thinking).

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  73. You asked, “Why do I have this lingering feeling that ‘feminist’ is a dirty word?” Because of four decades of heavy anti-feminist backlash and media marketing, usually from folks who do not bother to go to even your “depth” of research (Google! Wikipedia!) let alone actually study something before they form an opinion about it.

    With no offense intended to your commenter marymtf, but “I have sons and grandsons and I have granddaughters too, so I believe in equal rights for both genders,” does not logically compute. That just means your sperm donors were shooting both X and Y.

    If I had a dollar for every woman who likes to call herself a feminist, meanwhile obliviously upholding the patriarchal status quo, I would be so wealthy I would not spend my days weeding through job descriptions that require their candidates to know how to tie a tie. Mr. Seinfeld (or his producer?) not noticing that he excluded women from his lineup is what is called exercising male privilege, and he is media-savvy enough to know better.

    More on “feminists” upholding the patriarchy: http://journal6other.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/what-is-the-difference-between-a-feminist-and-a-whore/

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  74. Alanna

     /  July 19, 2012

    I agree! Whats the deal with society anyway? Who sets the rules? Sheesh. And WHY should we have to change who we are from one minute to the next!

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  75. Rock on, lady! And I second (third?) the Caitlin Moran recommendation. A fantastic, funny, feminist read.

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  76. I’m in total agreement with you. Ironically I met up with a female composer yesterday for coffee and we had an earnest forty minute conversation about female composers and women in the film industry. She believes that they are male dominated industries. After giving it some thought I had to agree with her. The question is WHY? Both male and females make films and compose, yet there are only a tiny handful of successful, well-known women in those fields. At the top of your head, think of 5 female directors who are famous. I’m a film student and even I struggled with that one. Then when I went on to tell her that Sofia Coppella (The Virgin Suicides) was one and so was Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, 2008). She said yeah, and Kathryn Bigelow was first married to James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic) and Sofia Coppella’s father was the guy who directed the Godfather. She believes they probably had help from the more powerful men in their lives. I don’t know about Bigelow, but Coppella definitely did get help from her father. Don’t want to come across too agro but it really does disgust me, especially as a young female who wants to work in the film industry and direct her own films one day. Just a suggestion to all you lovely girls out there: We need to stop fighting with each other and start working together, helping each other to become successful. I might actually make a blog on that, in response to this blog. What do you think?

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    • Oh, girrl…yes. I know quite a bit about the male-dominated world of television and film. I absolutely think women should help other women succeed and be heard. You have a long road ahead of you and I’ll be the first to give you all the encouragement in the world. Make great work. Be brave. Kick ass. (Also, check out this article at Women in Hollywood wherein director Jennifer Fox says she wants to work exclusively with women. Very interesting.)

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  77. Oh, and another thing, definitely read “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. When I was first in college in 1967-8 the hot book the guys were reading was “Growing Up Absurd” by Paul somebody. I didn’t read it then, but I could relate to its title. Years later, I came upon a copy in a used bookstore and bought it. Eager to see what I had missed all those years ago, I began it right away. It started with, “This book is for men, because women know who they’re going to be. They’re going to be wives and mothers.” So if you ever wondered if we’ve made strides, remember, we have. And we need to protect those now. A whole bunch of people want to take it all away.

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    • What the effing what? “Women know who they’re going to be”?! OMG.

      I’ll say that I think it’s beautiful when women know they want to devote 20+ years to having and rearing children. That’s awesome. But to say that ALL women know that’s what they’re going to be…yuck. Super yucky, Paul somebody.

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      • Yeah. It was all summed up for us, tied up, locked up, and shoved onto the shelf. The rest of the book, well to be honest, I haven’t read it yet. Have a few others ahead of it on my list. Thank goodness that now women don’t know who they’re going to be. Now, they can go explore and change and be. Much, much better. Look at me, 62 and still trying to figure out what I want to do…next, anyway.

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  78. “In my heart, I think a woman has two choices: either she’s a feminist or a masochist.”
    —Gloria Steinem
    Don’t be sheepish. Should you ever even hesitate to call yourself a feminist? “Feminism” has these connotations that one must be angry, have piercings, and hairy armpits to be one, and of course those are all “Bad Unladylike Things” (which is in itself a problematic belief, but I’ll address that another time.)
    It actually really makes me angry when women say they don’t like calling themselves feminists, because what’s the alternative? What does being a not-feminist mean? It means that you don’t believe that women deserve equal rights. Cut and dry. Look at the definition. You’re either a feminist and believe in equality, however you choose to express it, or you aren’t, and therefore are indirectly advocating the patriarchy. Women who think “feminist” is a bad word are hurting themselves. If you use “feminism” as a dirty word, then you’re subverting a philosophy that was designed to help you.

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  79. Enjoyed the post – thanks! And it resonated. I remember in a conversation one time saying ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ and the woman I was chatting to stopped me right then and there and launched into a short burst of truth telling. And there began my own journey into realising that feminist and feminism aren’t ‘dirty words’, and that they’re not exclusive to women either.

    In any case, good to see you Freshly Pressed. LIke you, ‘I want to see women succeeding and being valued so that I can feel like I can succeed too.’ Actually, I want to see men AND women succeeding and being valued. Equality all the way.

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  80. Heck yeah, girlfriend! Here’s why you feel like it’s a dirty word: in the ’50s, ’60s, and especially ’70s, women threw off the chains and began to look around them. All along they had been single moms with deadbeat dads, raped and blamed for it, making less than $.75 per men’s $1.00, patronized, etc., etc. They just hadn’t spoken up much before, at least with any effectiveness. Then, in the ’70s, they enjoyed all kinds of liberation: comparable worth surveys at work, day care centers springing up, lawsuits for better compensation, training for police in how to stop domestic violence, and on and on. Things looked beautiful. Feminism was a cause that supported the betterment of all people, men, women, and children, to become what they’d like to become, reach full potential. Then 1980 arrived, and even though Watergate was not that far behind us, Ronald Reagan was elected. The country decided to “return” to “traditional” society. THere was a tremendous backlash everywhere, in newspapers, commentary, magazines, etc. REad “Backlash,” by Susan Faludi. A few pages will give you the idea. The conservative movement of the 1980s made feminism a dirty word. After that, new generations of women grew up thinking it was nasty. Angry, grim, not pretty. Well, that’s very wrong. Feminists are people who care about themselves and others. And they may be extremely stylish people, and funny, and engaging, and wonderful. Like you. Thanks for your post. I’m 62 and lived through it. I welcome back a new wave of feminism. We need it about now.

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    • Leah

       /  July 19, 2012

      Susan Faludi is AMAZING! I really liked Stiffed, too, which is her book on men and masculinities. I was born in the 80s backlash, and I remember having very conflicting messages about my life choices as a woman–I could be anything I wanted to be!–as long as I still acted and looked feminine, learned the right social cues to attract a man, and wasn’t so damn loud about it. I grew up in a conservative suburb and was able to escape by going to college far away, where I met other women and men who were feminists and into equality, legally and socially.

      The most important thing I’ve learned in 27 years came from the first day of my women’s history elective in college: “Everything is about gender.”

      Do you have a blog, rrosered? I’d love to read more about your experiences.

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      • Hi Leah, Yes, I’m writing about my life and Buddhism on beingheredoingthis.wordpress.com. I agree! It seems we cannot get away from the gender thing. And it needs a lot of work. I think women are terrific and have really done a lot for themselves. It’s the men I worry about, still captured by society’s pressures to “succeed,” be “powerful,” which seems to be defined for them as rich and brutish. I so appreciate men who are able to transcend that stuff and be themselves happily.

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    • Backlash. Susan Faludi. On the list. Thanks!

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  81. I think I am a feminist to a point, but have never fought for anything. I don’t think Jerry intentionally left women out. They’re probably just friends of his. :)

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  82. Perhaps I’ll make a show called ” Moms in Minivans drinking wine out of box”?

    Stereotypes are lame, and it’s too bad Julia Louis Dryfus or Kathy Griffin weren’t included in his “collection” even though he has worked with both of them far more than some of these gentlemen- who are all great by the way- i just would love to see some lady action in this series. Not just for the sake of “feminism”, but because they are extremely funny and would round out the show… I mean, could you imagine Jerry and Tina Fey talking over coffee?…I’d die of laughter. Oh well, I’ll watch anyway because, like you, I am a huge fan of the man- if he hates women or not is not my problem, let his wife handle that:)

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  83. I can feel very similar about feminism. I hate militant feminism and man-hate, so admitting that I am generally swayed to the feminist side can be hard. In the case of Seinfeld, I like to think that it is about how we connect with people. Seinfeld may appreciate many female comedians, but may not know how to relate to them or talk to them as comfortably. I can relate to THAT. I advocate for women and care about women, but my best relationships are with men and that is just the way it is. It isn’t because I have a problem with women, I am one! I just don’t connect with many other women. On the flip side, there are many women out there who relate best to other women and don’t really ‘get’ men, but they aren’t man haters. My point is, Seinfeld is going to showcase comedians he likes and gets along with, and that happens to mainly be men. I think its important for feminists not to see sexist behavior or thoughts in innocent actions…at least not by default.

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    • I’ve spent a good deal of my life feeling the same way—feeling like I relate better with men off the bat than I do with women. Somehow that answer just doesn’t satisfy in this case for me, though. And I wouldn’t go so far to say that Jerry Seinfeld is a sexist (I certainly don’t know him well enough to say that), but I am disappointed, and I’m hoping for something better. We’ll see…

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      • I think you guys have highlighted an issue which is paramount in true feminist ideology, which is that we are ultimately promoting equality between the sexes. The reactions against feminism at some points in history have meant that feminists have needed to band together and find strength in numbers, which has probably been part of the reason for the man-hating aspect in some feminists. However, even Germaine Greer, who has been vilified by almost everyone, asserted that the success of feminism in creating gender equality and liberating women from tradition gender constraints would also benefit men by liberating them from the constraints of the traditionally masculine role in patriarchal society, and give them the opportunity to experience women as human beings rather than simply as wives/mothers/subjects etc..

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  84. I think you should base these accusations on more than 2 trailers. if after the whole season, or series even there isn’t 1 female…then you may be something to complain about. And if i had the money, i would be a woman with a car collection. This non-feminist knows more about vehicles than my husband. Which doesn’t make me any less intelligent than women who don’t know jack about their vehicles and who do not collect vehicles.

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  85. I’m trying to reply to as many comments as I can, but can I just say that you all are freaking awesome?! Seriously. Let’s all get drinks later, okay?

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  86. theperpetualtraveller

     /  July 19, 2012

    Agreed. I don’t like calling myself a feminist either but there’s still so more to be done. When I can walk down the street without having sexually suggestive comments thrown at me or being felt up on public transport, then we’re starting to make some progress.

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  87. Michael Tyler

     /  July 19, 2012

    Third to last paragraph really hit home for me. When you said, “my daughter,” I thought about my niece. It’s one thing to see the cycle, it’s another to see it cycling onward to those next in line.

    In case anyone is interested, http://www.meetup.com/San-Diego-Feminist-Book-Group/ These are really good people.

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  88. Funny. My husband and I were just talking about this same topic last night. (Feminism, that is, not Jerry Seinfeld.) We were trying to figure out why “feminist” has such negative connotations. When he and I first started dating, his mother said, “Are you sure you want to date a feminist?” Which I found sadly ignorant since she was a single mother raising her daughters to be independent.

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  89. Hi Melanie, I’m a feminist, but not a neo-feminist. I’ve been a feminist all my adult life. I have sons and grandsons and I have granddaughters too, so I believe in equal rights for both genders. Neo feminists do not.
    I’m not a fan of the show Seinfeld and I haven’t seen his new show but it’s possible that he did not deliberately leave women out . It’s possible that he had his own reasons for choosing the comedians that suited his particular purpose and that it had nothing to do with being sexist. It should be his call.
    Also, I am not a fan of affirmative action. There was a time when it was more than necessary. The professions were dominated by men and feminists had to fight to change culture. And change it they did. But I think it should be remembered that they had the sympathy and the help of many willing males,still do.
    I remember an older man, a colleague, saying to me that men get more for over time than women do (he called them girls) because men have a family to support. I’m all for the changes. What I am strongly against today is today’s constant push to choose for the sake of numbers rather than merit. It stands to reason that if you’re balancing the numbers the better candidate is bound to lose out. That’s neo-feminism.
    Hope this post has not offended. As I say, I have sons and grandsons. I’m fighting a hopeless fight for their rights. :)

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    • I’m not offended, marymtf! I don’t agree, but I’m not offended. I think that, in this case, there’s not a problem of not having female comedians to choose from. It’s just that they were excluded—for whatever reason. The exclusion doesn’t have to mean that someone is intentionally being sexist. But until reflection of both genders is the norm, we should ask people to strive for something better, and pay attention to the under-representation of women.

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  90. There are a lot of words which have become “dirty words” in America. Feminist/feminism happens to be one.

    I understand how you feel, completely, and I think that we are, perhaps, of the generation of women who are needed to bridge the two worlds. To be firmly for rights of every kind for women, but still lacking the confidence or motivation to stand up for those rights because we have that internal voice saying those exact things. And I believe it’s a collective voice of the previous generation who were still brought up to believe that women had certain roles in life that they had to stick to without question.

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  91. An article you might find interesting about women and comedy: http://jezebel.com/5914084/hey-men-im-funnier-than-you (It’s not my article. I’m not spamming, I swear!)

    I thing “feminism” has been turned into a dirty word. Not sure why or how. I’m too busy being a dopy youngster to worry about those things quite yet. On a slightly related note, my husband went to a pretty well-respected engineering school, where the girl/guy radio was WAY out of wack. Living there with the college culture would drive me crazy. A LOT of the guys there has this superiority complex, where they legitimately thought men were better & smarter than women. It drove me insane. Feminism is definitely still needed in some careers/aspects of society.

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    • Whoa. 2nd to last paragraph is really great. “And in my experience, that’s exactly what being a funny woman feels like—it feels like you do not exist.” Ouch. Thanks so much for the comment!

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  92. It’s a trailer. It’s meant to be a synopsis or a “greatest hits” so to speak. That said, it probably only shows comedians that would be recognizable to even those who aren’t in the comedy world. Unfortunately due to culture, many times those are male.

    I haven’t seen the show or trailer so this is completely conjecture, and I don’t know if it’s misogynist or biased one way or the other, nor do I know who is pulling the strings behind the content or guests (I feel that it isn’t entirely Jerry Seinfeld). Perhaps, then it isn’t that Seinfeld doesn’t want to interview women or cannot think of a woman to interview etc., but it’s that his sponsors or co-sponsors have direct input on which comedians are on the program –even more the fault if it’s a co-decision because then each party would have to be satisfied making the choice more bland than edgy (read fringe).

    But I feel if anything, it would be the fault of those not promoting seriously funny women (sarah silverman?). Shows like this tend to be swayed by public opinion. Show people care about a comedian (woman or man) and more likely than not that person will be recognized.

    A word of warning: I would consider myself a feminist in that I hold the radical, earth-shattering idea that women are people. I would not consider myself a feminist if by that label I am forced to acquiesce into accepting vaguely written, faulty logic driven philosophy. There are good feminists and bad ones just as there good PETA members and bad, good people and bad. People are people.

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  93. LOVE it! The first time I realized I was a feminist was when I was in high school and there was a panel presentation and one person simply got up and read the definition of a feminist from the Webster’s dictionary: “A supporter of women’s claims to be given rights, opportunities and treatment equal to those of men.” It just clicked for me at that moment. and you know what – I am fun and funny and silly and a feminist! Great post!!

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  94. aha

     /  July 19, 2012

    “I think that women should have rights in the workplace, and that boobs shouldn’t keep them from getting good jobs, ”
    … now as u r talking about equal rights u must remember that men do not have cleavage to show off … that’s not fair is it ?
    i invite u and all ur women friends to go to work fully covered , not showing body parts … that way we would really see u’d get the better jobs !
    hav u wondered y in some cultures women do not show off their body in a less decent way ?
    no … it’s not becoz their husbands do not permit !! … no no no … think about it !

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  95. I think its fair to argue who has the right to define what a feminist is? I think all women should take an active role in being ‘feminists’ because if we don’t who will? We should be feminists because we should have respect for the people we are. So don’t let any google definitions stop you!

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  96. For someone who is sheepish about being a feminist, you defend feminism really well!

    I also notice things like women not being in shows, or being sexualized or powerless in shows, and usually my friends will be like, “Why does it matter?”

    But you anticipated that question here– and I love your answer! Of course it matters, because it’s implicitly telling viewers (and socializing viewers) that women aren’t as funny/talented/smart as men and are only useful in terms of sex.

    Ps. I think you should email Seinfeld your title suggestion: “Comedians with Penises in Cars Getting Coffee.” So funny!

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  97. Roshni

     /  July 19, 2012

    I’m a feminist for the same reasons as you. I could relate to this post so well. Loved it. I’m so glad it is Freshly Pressed! Congratulations on that! :)

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  98. I love this post! My family kind of taught me that feminists are “overly sensitive” and it was not until college that I realized I should be unashamed to want equality for women in all arenas. Thank you for sharing this, it has helped me a lot!

    http://stepstochangetheworld.wordpress.com/

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  99. jennjenn23

     /  July 19, 2012

    Well.. You said you only saw the trailers so far. So there’s hope! I can’t say for sure but the male to female ratio doesn’t seem quite equal anyways. There seems to be quite a few more comedians that are male rather than female so that may contribute to the lack of females on his show and take into consideration they’d have to want to sit down with him and talk over coffee. There’s a lot to consider. But I will say that I like where you are going with this. I myself have been changing my ideas about the female role in society. If you look at movies in general all women are thin, big boobs and have no personality. I mean generally speaking if you pick out a movie with a female main character she is actually a side kick to a man and shows her boobs at some point. I was just talking about this the other day in fact. People wonder why children are becoming sexually active at a young age, could it be that females Are shown at a young age that we are simply here to satisfy our men? It’s hard to be a feminist and not feel like a bitchy person, but of you think about it being made to feel that you are bitchy because you expect the same
    Rights as your counter part is kind of outrageous and also in direct influence
    Of male perception. Anyways good luck with your journey. I suggest also getting the movie iron jawed Angels and maybe taking a women’s history class very inspirational. :)

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    • Don’t we all show our boobs at some point? Gettin’ some groceries? Show the boobs. Shipping a parcel? Show some boobs. Filling a prescription? Boob. Oh, wait…

      Thanks for the comment! I definitely see more research in my future!

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  100. Hmm – if he’s already worked with woman in the past why bash him for not working with them in this particular comedy movie?… I definitely think this is too sensitive. What about the movies with only women in them? I think some feminist are starting to take things to an extreme..

    Katie

    http://katieraspberry.wordpress.com/

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    • Hi Katie! I hope I didn’t come across like I was *bashing* Seinfeld. I’m disappointed thus far, but that could change! You never know. I will say, though, that I don’t think anyone gets a pass on all of their future projects just because they worked with women in the past. Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to insist on gender inclusion on ALL projects, but this one has nothing in it that makes me think that women wouldn’t ADD to the overall value of it.

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  101. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive. Being a feminist seems to have taken on a negative connotation which just goes to show that our society still has a lot of work to do!

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  102. You know… I just watched the trailer, and it could also be said that they are all WHITE men. Except the token black guy that’s thrown in at the very end who doesn’t even say a word. Is he a comedian, or he is seriously just the token diversity guy? Now you got me thinkin…

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  103. Laura

     /  July 19, 2012

    I’d advise you read ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran.

    It’s really easy to read and funny, and it discusses a lot of issues to do with what makes a feminist and what feminism is.

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  104. No question that the vast majority of successful comics are men. If you feel that women are under-represented in a particular show, I would suggest that while blogging may make you feel good, contacting the show will actually be a step that may accomplish something.

    Barriers are not broken-down with slacktivism, but activism.

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    • I should have added that if you contact the show, edit your post to provide the contact info, so that you make it easier for others who find your post interesting, to follow your lead.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful and constructive comments! (Seriously, everyone is kicking ass at being awesome and having a great discussion. It’s like I won the awesomeness lotto.) I’ll see if I can’t hunt down the contact info for the production company.

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  105. I’m with @Kristen Mae, let’s move past the stereotypical feminist imagery because let’s be honest- that’s lingering around from the previous century and doesn’t really represent the ways we act today. (Too long hair today looks beautiful because it’s extensions, not real, split ended strands; but I digress.)

    @Shirley,I love this post! I most certainly don’t think you’re being too sensitive. Sensitivity is one of things that characterizes being a woman (in my opinion), and it’s a quality I love and think we can embrace proudly. When it gets us in trouble is when it’s coupled with being emotionally erratic. Hopefully Jerry gets some hilarious ladies on the show- if he wants any of us to watch it at least.

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  106. A very interesting entry, with many valid thoughts and questions. As a feminist I have to say, you are not being too sensitive! Of course there are more or less important issues, but they’re all threads in a bigger carpet. I would recommend you to follow http://feminishblog.tumblr.com/, and you can also ask her anything related to feminism.Backlash, by Susan Faludi, talks of why feminism is such a dirty word to many, if you have enough time to read it I really recommend it as well! :)

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  107. I agree that there are many funny women who could get in the car with Jerry. Maybe they would out funny him…..wouldn’t want that to happen!

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  108. I understand what you’re saying, but I also hate it when everyone is like “that show should have had some women in it. They’re just being sexist.” or “That song doesn’t have any women singers. Why are they so sexist?” Eventually you will have people just sticking women in their songs to be politically correct instead of actually recognizing them for their talents. I agree that women should not be involved in domestic violence. I witnessed a friend’s mother in a situation like that shortly before she died, and I saw the pain she went through worrying about her mother. Women should get equal pay and maternity leave. I completely agree with you there. One thing I hate when most feminists say is that we should stop being seen as just sexy. Why? I like the fact that I can be sexy and that men like to look at me. But, maybe I’m just weird like that. Overall, I think you are spot on about the sexual assault, domestic abuse, etc. However, I think the issue with the movie might just be a little too sensitive.

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    • Whew! You touch on a lot of stuff here—most of which I’m woefully incapable of addressing well.

      That said, I don’t think we should just stuff untalented or unskilled people in places solely due to their gender. But, like I said, there are a lot of funny women out there. It wouldn’t be hard. I think until we start seeing better representation of women in all industries as the default, it’s okay to ask people to be mindful of their choices.

      And the sexy thing…that’s a big one. “Just sexy” doesn’t work for me. Sexy and powerful and smart and respected…that could work. But the problem is that sexy seems to overpower all other adjectives, robbing them of their rightful place in a woman’s life. Bummer.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts. I’m kinda loving today.

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  109. Great articulation, Melanie. And: No, you’re not being too sensitive. At all. You’re aware. Welcome to feminism ;)

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  110. A couple of things. This is an awesome post. If you knew how I feel about the overuse of the word awesome, this would mean more. Really awesome post. I’ve had some thoughts about Seinfeld’s new show; sheepishly I’ve kept them to myself.
    Having recently published a book entirely about the treatment of women throughout history, I consider myself motivational in my writing, and maybe mildly mad when it comes to the label feminism. If you knew how I feel about labels, this would mean more. A pealed, puckered, pitiful label pasted on any woman who speaks up for herself.
    I say mildly mad, meaning both crazy mad and angry mad. Mildly because the fight has been fought, and yet, women today need to recognize their strength, be vigilant in preserving it, and never forget that women struggled and died in that fight. Also, there are women world wide who suffer still.
    And with this in mind, I offer these thoughts about the Seinfeld show.
    Maybe Seinfeld doesn’t have any female friends. Maybe his wife is the jealous type and doesn’t want him riding around hopped up on caffeine, laughing with a bunch of women. Maybe, just maybe, after a few episodes some women will appear and the contrast to the other less funny episodes will be so huge that the demand for female comedians will skyrocket. Maybe the producers will have to seek out funny women to keep the show on the air, lest it end up tanking like Ray Romano’s second set “Men of a Certain Age.”
    The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Time to showcase the female experience is hilarious beyond measure. Beyond hormones, beyond user bosses and loser boyfriends. Beyond our self worth being held hostage by disproportionate, dysfunctional, uncooperative body parts. What a day that will be.
    Okay, that was more than a couple of things. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest.

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    • Thank you, Honie, for such a thoughtful comment. A lot of those “maybes” ran through my head, too, but none seemed to satisfy. It’s not hard to find hilarious women. Seinfeld and the producers of the show may prove me wrong yet—I really hope they do.

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  111. One much less worshipful of Seinfeld here. I never really liked the character he portrayed in his sitcom, nor any of the characters around him. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has no women among his professional friends.

    At the risk of dwelling on the obvious here, “feminist” is one of those words that people who largely control the mass media have clear economic and political interests in vilifying. See also:

    “liberal”
    “environmentalist”
    “pacifist”
    “socialist”
    “communist”
    “anarchist”
    ….just to get started. They all have meanings very different from the msm stereotypes.

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    • I think it’s easy to vilify any “-ist” when it differs from our own viewpoint. It’s a shame we’ve lost the art of civil discourse. Let’s bring it back!

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  112. The feeling that “feminist” is a dirty word comes from media pundits (mostly male) saying horrible things about feminists who upset the previous social order. Many people today are afraid to identify themselves as feminists because of stigmas attached to the term, even when they fulfill the basic definitions. I should know; I took a Women’s Studies course my first quarter on campus.

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    • pryan51

       /  July 19, 2012

      YES YES YES THANK YOU! You took the words right out of my head and expressed them so much more clearly than I could have!

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    • Hey, you’re one Women’s Studies course up on me. Hoping the stigma shakes off soon—it makes me itchy.

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      • well, there’s one way i know to get rid of the stigma: get educated about the facts (you don’t need to take a university class to learn the facts), tell others if the oppurtunity arises, and above all else, don’t let being a woman ever hold you back from what you want to do with your life! That’s a core tenet of feminism!

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  113. I so enjoyed this. I tend to see “feminist” as a dirty word, too, but like you indicated with the definitions of the word, it’s not. I would think most women are feminists, to some degree. At least I hope so.

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    • It’s interesting how the “dirty word” idea is resonating with so many. Glad to know it’s not just me, but bummed that it’s not just me at the same time. It’s okay for women to like, support, and defend women, right? Right.

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  114. There has been plenty of shows just of women that do well. Women and men have their own unique talents to bring to shows, and I think a mixed but also male or female only shows are needed.

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  115. This is a wonderful way to construct the “arguement” for realistic representation in media. Even when it’s not “real” – in that my workplace (an engineering firm) has zero women in leadership – except in Human Resources – it is important to explore the fact that it could be real.

    I really like how this translates to consideration of the use of minority actors in TV roles. Just because there may not be a hispanic head of your local network doesn’t mean that there *couldn’t* be. And showing a workplace where there are none – just says that they *can’t*.

    Well written. Thank you,

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  116. I just read Kathy Griffin’s book “Official Book Club Selection” and she mentions both Jerry Seinfeld and the lack of female comics recognized in that industry (though I don’t think she connected the two). BTW that book was a great read – I borrowed the book from my sister, not really being a fan but just needing something to read. and now – I’m a fan.

    I’m absolutely a feminist. The word DOES elicit images of too-long hair parted down the middle and bra-burnings… but there’s no reason we can’t insist upon the evolution of the image, as we do for everything else. :)

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    • Putting it on the “to read” list, Kristen. Thanks! And yes, we can insist on something different. Otherwise we should just sit back, drink some Coors and eat Cheetos until the world ends. I don’t like Coors and Cheetos that much, so I guess I’m stuck with the other option.

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  117. As a woman and the mother of daughters I whole-heartedly concur. :)

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  118. i know i’ve said this before, but best post EVER. a resounding “hell yeah”! i also happen to think if you love jesus and know him even slightly, you are a feminist. god is a freaking feminist! he*she doesn’t want women to be abused, objectified, treated unfairly, or discriminated against either. i LOVE that you are totally blossoming in this area. it’s so beautiful to watch, and your writing is so clear and matter-of-fact that i don’t believe it’s possible to NOT be won over by your argument. i think you should’ve said, “duh” at the end.

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  119. cassie

     /  July 18, 2012

    Your post made me cry. So beautifully articulated. Thank you.

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  120. Renee Sala

     /  July 18, 2012

    I don’t know if I agree or disagree. I just love to hear you “think”. It’s awesome…just like you

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  121. Jerry and his bretheren collect cars — women, being much smarter, do not.

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    • I guess my collection (consisting of one 2004 Toyota Corolla with manual transmission, windows and door locks), doesn’t quite compare.

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    • It’s actually condescending to tell a woman that women in general are more intelligent, as it is typically seen as patronizing to have done so. Most people are of average intelligence. Some women and some men are above and below average.

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  122. Giant f-ing LIKE! Feminists can “surely” learn a few lessons from “Shirley”!

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  1. Admit You’re a Feminist for International Women’s Day | Melanie Crutchfield
  2. Hello One Thousand Subscribers! What the Deuce are You Doing Here? | Melanie Crutchfield
  3. Jerry Finds a Lady; I’m Not So Sheepish After All | Melanie Crutchfield
  4. Will I Ever Be Freshly Pressed? « Lynn Schneider Books
  5. Are you a Feminist? | gimmemas
  6. A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To This Post | honiebriggs

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