My feminism is one of broken promises

I wrote most of this post before the elections, but I figured today was a good day to finalize and officially come out as a feminist. Because today, the biggest lie we all want to believe has been debunked.

“Girls, if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.”

Turns out, you cannot. One of the reasons I really love tweeting and blogging (with TimeHop) is that it allows me to see my past self reflected, every day. I can see how my opinions have grown more and more feminist over a relatively short time span. I mean, in 2013 one of my propositions with my defense was that “There is no such thing as positive discrimination” , meaning affirmative action is bad. While I am still on the fence about quota, my reasoning behind it has drastically changed. From my own blog post (January 2013), I took these two quotes:

“I am aware of studies showing the bias for male candidates” and  “I don’t feel like I need it”

OMG the cognitive dissonance! I am being discriminated, but it is fine! I will make it. Okay, one more quote from the horrible piece: “I do not feel in need of help and this makes me feel uncomfortable about the whole idea.” I am so ashamed. How ignorant and selfish I was, just 3.5 years ago. At this point I am just leaving it up as a reminder to myself to never stop learning. Before I wrote this sexist bullshit, I even attended a lecture by a female Dutch scientist, who showed me the famous picture of the Solvay conference.

“Marie Curie is the only one in the picture that has two Nobel prices. That goes to show that as a women, you have to work twice as hard”

The picture was accompanied by the words “Marie Curie is the only one in the picture that has two Nobel prices. That goes to show that as a women, you have to work twice as hard” I was willing to work twice as hard, and I felt that other women need to do that too. Stop whining, start working, and we will make it. But, I stopped believing that, after a while. Mainly after so many confrontations with studies about bias and people unable to believe them. It started with a blog post explaining why I had a hard time sympathizing with feminists. Clickbait title -> many views 🙂

I mean, I said it before:

“changing your mind is the only way not to die stupid”

Why the f*ck did I ever believe this shit? Well, because us girls and women, we are being lied to. If you work hard enough, you will make it. If you play nice enough, all will be fine. Be like a boy, but not too much. Work hard. I believed this! In school, in high school, in college, in grad school. I was doing fine, wasn’t I? My grades were good, I got papers accepted, people inviting me for things. Yeah, there was the occasional backlash, annoying questions about my “background”, remarks about my body, positive and negative. But all will be good and things will change.

I really do not know why we feed girls this crap. I mean we do tell them about the killing of seals, the demise of the planet (as a kid I was terrified of acid rain!), the horror of WW2. Why don’t we just tell them about bias, about sexism and racism. Let’s all stop pretending that the world is fine and women (and other minorities) have anything like a fair shot at anything. Yes, some us of do make it (I might) but that does not mean the whole system isn’t rigged against us.

If today taught us anything, it is that it does not matter how good you are. Two times, five times. You can have devoted your entire life to fighting injustice and inequality, and you can still lose to literally the least qualified man in the history of the US. You can spend I do not even want to imagine how many hours on being female enough but not soft, looking likable enough but not girly, moderate your tone but not too much, be strong enough but not manly, and you will still lose to a man just shouting words, because A) he will get the benefit of the doubt, every fucking time, and B) the majority of people in power look like him (minus the orange)

I stopped believing the lie, slowly, steady, through my own experience and education. Today is a huge wake up call. Your qualities, your effort and likeableness have nothing to do with anything. People are sexist. They forgive Trump his lies and his demeaning behavior towards everyone, but hold Hillary accountable for all half truths and political realities.

All of us (me included) are sexist and racist. Let’s talk about that. So much policy is based on this idea that women need help. This is at the core of “Lean in”, diversity panels and forums, and even quota. This all would not be needed is we would just address our bias with (for example) blind interviews, and clear checklists for job interviews instead of relying on “culture fit” and double standards.

PS Also climate change.

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  1. Pingback: Why I am canceling my trip to the US next week – Felienne's blog

  2. Boaz Rosenan

    I think that while Trump may seem incompetent as a president, he’s surely not incompetent in winning campaigns. He smashed Cruz and Rubio the same way he did Clinton – by appealing to the common-lower-denominator of people. Yes, he used her being a woman, but if he was running against Obama he would use the fact he’s black, and if running against Bill Clinton he would have used the fact he’s from a middle-class family. Yes, Trump’s victory shows us that racism and sexism are more common than we wanted to believe, but I don’t think the indication is the fact that the woman candidate was not elected, but rather the fact the Trump was. Lower-middle class folks do not have any reason to vote for a candidate who aims to cut benefits while lowering taxes for the rich. Except voting is never a rational decision. So if a candidate says all the things you think yourself but never have the guts to say them out loud, you will give that candidate your vote.

    I don’t teach my daughter she can be whatever she wants to be. I trust that she already knows that. I believe she knows there will be some obstacles. However, being a woman is just one aspect of who she is. Being gifted in many areas is another. The former may play in favor of others at her expanse, but the latter will play at her favor. The difference between the two is that while being gifted is considered objectively a good thing, being a woman is only a sat-back due to social bias. But overall, this plays in her favor, because we (as a society…) can change social bias. If it were up to our generation, Hilary would have taken the presidency without breaking a sweat ( When my daughter grows up, the generation of racists and sexists who elected Trump will be gone and our generation will take its place. This means that what my daughter can or cannot be when she grows up is totally up to us…

  3. Hekilë Esselóra

    A biology metaphor:

    Think how many baby sea turtles are hatched.
    Think how many make it to adulthood.

    Are the 99.9% of failures just lazy/stupid/weak?
    Or is the system designed to swallow up tiny turtles?

    Is that why there ARE so many baby turtles?

    (Insects, fish, acorns, ducklings, it doesn’t matter:
    pick your favorite high-r/low-K lifeform )

    Because if r/K reproductive strategy is a reality,
    then it simply cannot be true,
    that every turtle can make it if they try.

    Likewise, the existence
    of a few successful out-group members
    does not mean (cannot mean)
    that allout-group members could succeed
    if they were just as “good”
    as the other 999 hatchlings.

    But nobody wants to admit
    they just lucked out
    in life’s lottery
    and were not the Chosen Ones
    Destined for Greatness
    (because of their heroic works
    and mental brilliance)
    by the Invisible Hand
    of the Storyteller.

  4. Veronika

    I can’t begin to explain how much this resonates… I thought the same at first but gradually changed my opinions and am appalled at some things I thought/said (not online though, but power to you for being open about it!).

    Maybe a funny story is that while I was writing my propositions, I was hesitant about including the one about gender equality, because it didn’t agree with your propositions, and I was afraid of “getting it wrong”. But I did it anyway 🙂

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