Thursday, September 12, 2013

Feminism and The West Wing

So, I began watching The West Wing for the first time about a week ago.  I'm already halfway through season three.

I am a woman obsessed. Bewitched, ensorcelled, enthralled, intrigued, and kicking myself for being 10 years behind the curve.  It's the only show I've ever watched that makes me feel smarter afterwards.

You're thinking, "E, that's great and all, and charmingly dorky of you...but what's it got to do with BtheB?"

Well, let me tell you. Or rather show you.  Last night at an ungodly hour which I will not disclose for fear of prodigious judgment, I was watching an episode in which a fascinating interchange about feminism takes place.  It blew my mind a little bit.

Here are the relevant scenes (Season 3 Ep 14, "Night Five"):

Earlier in the season, Ainsley shocked Sam to the core by revealing that she is, as a prominent feminist, against the Equal Rights Amendment. Her argument is simple: equal rights are already guaranteed to all US citizens under the Constitution, so not only is the EPA superfluous (and therefore odious to hardcore Republicans like herself), but it implies that women are some special outlying category of person not already protected by the Constitution.  Thus the EPA, through its very existence, acknowledges and enforces the inequality it aims to correct.

The statement about feminism Hayes makes in the above clip got me thinking along similar lines.  Am I, in stewing over and blogging about and frequently bending ears concerning minor instances of discrimination, distracting others and myself from legitimate causes?  By bringing so many problems of varying degree into the fold, are we making things too diffuse? Am I missing the point of the whole revolution?

I want to say more on this, and think more on this.  Yes, there is a time and a place for venting the kinds of frustration encountered in our odd little demographic of single Christian women in academia. But there are also issues we have the power and the responsibility to give voice and weighty thought to -- to speak and teach and even proselytize about, and which extend far beyond the stuff of our privileged worldview.

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