In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Liberation Protest of the Miss America Pageant on September 7, 1968, we invited women to throw what is oppressing them in 2018 into the Freedom Trash Can.
The 1968 protest was about much more than the beauty pageant and the idea that women should always be “beautiful” and pleasant, though it was that. As the the Redstocking Facebook announcement of this commemoration, put it, the protest “made women’s liberation a household term.” The readers of mass media coverage of the protest learned that women considered themselves oppressed and defined liberation to include changes in parts of life then considered quite personal, in addition to the attainment of legal equal rights. The response from women was overwhelming; so many letters came in they just couldn’t all be answered. Women’s Liberation consciousness-raising groups would soon spring up everywhere as the primary organizing tool of the new Movement. Masses of women were on fire.
The Miss America Pageant lost much of its influence as women’s liberation grew. It recently dropped the bathing suit portion of the show and seems doomed to the dustbin of history, but women’s oppression, including the pressures of fashion, has certainly not been ended.
Here, then, are what some women want to “trash” today. Contemplating the entire list is interesting in terms of what it contains and what it does not when one thinks about a program for Women’s Liberation – a discussion in itself. These are posted pretty much in order of receipt. If you are inspired to want to add something to the list, email your (brief) thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Into the 2018 Women’s Liberation Trash Can go:
1) Bras – confining, uncomfortable instruments of torture
2) High Heels – invented by men, I’m certain, perhaps to keep women from running away or more likely for their sexual pleasure. We are not meant to walk around on tiptoe. Ouch!
The way bosses discriminate in hiring and promotion of mothers in the workplace. When a woman is known to have a child, the boss looks at it as a problem, whereas it is viewed as neutral or even an advantage to men if they have children. This bias tells us that most bosses believe that women still carry most of the load for childrearing and they expect to get less work out of a mother as a result. So really this issue goes back to the unequal division of labor within the home that must be defeated somehow. Once we’ve gotten rid of the unequal division of labor inside the home, let’s get rid of the bosses outside of the home too!
I’d love to toss all high heels into the trashcan. I don’t understand why so many women continue to wear them. Are they brainwashed? They have been compared to Chinese footbinding, which fortunately no longer exists. Myself, I tried wearing low heels to high school dances. They were so excruciatingly uncomfortable that I’ve never worn them again. My mother never wore heels and I’ve followed her example. In freedom.
Hair dye – so many women hiding their grey hair. And I am one of them.
Also the male ego.
I would like to throw the income inequality experienced by women into the trash bin of history. After all these years and laws to guarantee equal pay, the gap remains huge, especially for women of color.
Chest binders worn by girls who wish they were male.
My marriage certificate. Not because I want to separate from my husband but because we no longer need marriage and the romanticism surrounding it doesn’t promote women’s liberation. In my study of the issue (admittedly incomplete), women no longer lose rights vis a vis men in the absence of the so-called “protection” of marriage. New technology makes paternity easy to establish and there are laws regarding the financial support of children. The State continues to coerce people to marry by offering a break on income taxes but that could be solved fairly easily, as could next-of-kin concerns when a loved one is hospitalized. State sanctioned marriage makes it awfully hard, and very expensive, when you do want to separate. It’s a lie that there is one and only one soul mate in the world and we sure don’t need marriage to induce people to make babies – some 40% of U.S. children are currently born outside of marriage. A recent survey demonstrates that the U.S. population is moving away from marriage even though the pro-marriage propaganda is as strong as ever. Some 60% of couples live together either as a prelude to marriage or sometimes with no intent to marry. Beneath an apparent interest in marriage among couples is mostly a desire to have a celebration of a their loving partnership. Why couldn’t we do that without the State getting involved?
Prozac, Valium, Zoloft, Ambien, Nembutal, Ritalin, Risperdal, Trazadone, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Xanax, Librium, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Percocet, Vicodin, Neurontin, Thorazine and many, many more. These are all mind-altering drugs that the pharmaceutical industry has concocted to keep us quiet, untroublesome, numb, compliant, submissive and passive. Women are the Number One target market for these mind-numbing drugs. This is a far-more destructive way of keeping us tractable than lipstick.
I would discard the fake abortion counseling places that make women feel guilty about wanting an abortion. I’d discard all the fat shaming, the weight loss institutions that make millions off women’s manufactured insecurities, all the pills and programs. I’d discard plastic surgery except for those who really need it – from mines, fires, accidents, wars. I’d discard every shoe with over a two-inch heel. I’d discard those ‘reality’ shows that feed on women’s desire to be married, that return us to the days when men asked the father for permission to marry a woman because she belonged to him, men who got down on one knee, etc. They are pushing us back into a Dark Ages for women. I’d discard all the Republican run legislatures that cut down on a woman’s right to choose every year with worse and worse laws. I’d discard all religious fanatics of every religion on earth.
[Referring to the recently appointed first woman to head the CIA]:
The notion that putting female(s) in charge of torture eliminates female torture.
The first thing is Donald Trump. He and his sexism and misogyny gives the okay and go-ahead to the closet sexists and misogynists out there who may have been in hiding for the last half century. So first, I’d dump him. Then I’d dump all his followers and supporters, men AND women, who are brainwashed and have been duped into believing in his lies. And along with Trump and his minions, along with misogynistic men – and women – I would trash all the literature, films, television shows, radio shows, podcasts, music, art – any creative expression at all (yes, I know I am censoring) that continue to sexualize and trivialize women.
• An effigy of the current president, for his unbelievably sexist behavior toward women, including his own daughter, who he thinks he praised by saying if she wasn’t his daughter, he might be dating her.
• An effigy of the current attorney general, who wants to remove as grounds for asylum in this country fear for one’s life because of domestic violence and lack of police attention to domestic violence as a crime.
• Movies like Book Club, which (based on its trailer) assumes that older women can only decide they still want sex when they read an S&M book like Fifty Shades of Gray. Also toss in that book and all of its sequels.
Sonia Jaffe Robbins
Fad diets and “lose weight fast” media! Women are beautiful just the way they are and don’t need to worry about their size. We need to learn to love ourselves again!
Long lines for the Women’s Room (bottom photo) and none for the Men’s Room (top) as shown in these two contrasting photos taken at the same time (or within five minutes of each other) at Penn Station on Thanksgiving Day last year (11/23/17)
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION along with continued dismissal by too many in the academy of this grievous abuse of children’s rights to bodily integrity. Anthr/apologists who believe in exempting this exercise of patriarchal power over small girls’ bodies from explicit censure thus dismissing the universality of certain rights, are simultaneously refusing solidarity to embattled FGM survivors. Their courage to speak out stands in stark contrast to the timidity of certain faculty who discourage students from learning more about these damaging ritual abuses. We NEED female genital mutilation studies on the agenda.
Tobe Levin von Gleichen, PhD
Something that in 1968 I never thought of in my wildest dreams yet needs to be tossed: the misuse of “gender” – as in gender studies (as a substitute for women’s studies which was a compromise of feminist studies), gender theory, gender identity, gender queerism, transgenderism. That whole postmodern-y, post-feminist ideology and its progeny of individual solutions that clamor to wipe out the very recognition of the reality of “female” and “woman” and end up riding roughshod over the only meaningful way that women really differ from men (our reproductive capacity). Gender ideology is a backlash driven by men and capitalism (through corporate/foundation/academic funding) to role back the gains made during that hopeful era of “the revolutionary moment” of the Women’s Liberation Movement of some 50 years ago and to disable what remains of that struggle.
All the laws and/or proposed laws in the U.S. and other countries that exist now to weaken or outlaw the right to abortion.
Men’s arrogant assumption that they are entitled to sex and to women’s physical, emotional, and mental labor.
The number of what I would call available men (which has always seemed limited to me) has now, in my latter life, dwindled to barely a recognizable trickle while my competition – those able-bodied, interesting, energetic women – keep increasing. (Sorry, I still have that heterosexual disease.) So while the task for a man on let’s say Match.com is to jot off a blurb about himself, I am forced, if I’m serious, to approach the challenge with a great deal more vigor, exploring and compiling a somewhat accurate and truthful description of my inner self—admitting flaws, while including commendable attributes, in a semi self-effacing way of course, editing perhaps a version or two. And I’ll get one response out of the few who is a still evenly balanced, cogent human I can respond to – only to surmise that I’m probably number 10 or 11 on the line, my able-bodied sisters just too much in abundance, But I’m getting old. And I’m tired of waiting for that equal opportunity partner. Can we throw all male entitlements in the trash, cleanse their psyches and insist upon equalizing my quality of life quotient?
The following four are from Feministas Lúcidas, a Chilean autonomous radical collective in Santiago de Chile:
I would like to throw in the trash prostitution as “work”. The commodification of women’s bodies is not a job and it would never be. This idea only benefits male supremacy system and its institutions of prostitution and pornography. In this patriarchal phallocentric heterosexual culture (as a hegemonic sexual model) EVERY man benefits from the exploitation of women’s bodies, since for them, this is the means and tools to obtain pleasure (physical, emotional and symbolic). Our bodies satisfy the fantasies that men have created in their minds.
Because all of this, I throw in the trash the pseudo “liberation” offered by the cultural system of men which wants to make believe that those are “jobs” for women — from women in strips clubs, mainly immigrants, using their “erotic” clothes dancing, chatting and seducing clients while taking a drink to “topless” in nightclubs, modeling in bikinis and underwear and so on and so on.
I cannot fail to mention, those huge events where the logic of the sex market is explicit in all its levels. Since they not only offer “erotic shows” for men paid by them, but also they claim in all their advertising “free women all night long”. Men, inviting us to join freely their parties, have women stock to offer to male public. Thus the law of supply and demand becomes alive.
I throw in the trash prostitution as a “sexual work” [that comes] even from the feminism. The struggle for its abolition becomes increasingly necessary.
• • •
Firstly, operating rooms where women mutilate their body with cosmetic surgery to fit the patriarchal beauty model. [Also], doctors who perform it and who hold power over women’s bodies.
Secondly, [the] patriarchal sexual model to which women have massive access in recent times and is seen promoted, mainly by the media and high-technology. This model continues to have in its basis the penetrative sexuality, with its reproductive aura, disguised as freedom and inspired in the most aberrant objectivized pornography separated from words and feelings, from the eroticism of life and the pleasure in its most fully human sense. All of this is expressed in women who learn from childhood to dance “reggaeton” with its feminicidal women-hating lyrics; in women talking on TV about sexuality as men do, quantifying orgasms and sexual partners or even more through humor about compulsory heterosexuality as free pleasant choice, substituting enjoyment for submission.
• • •
Women’s erroneous acceptance of attitudes from men who violate our boundaries by touching us in ways that make us uncomfortable or say things to us that we don’t like. I would like to eliminate those nervous smiles, and instead empower women to say “No! I don’t like that! That makes me uncomfortable!” I would like to eliminate this “feminine” reaction that oppress us more than high heels or make up. I would like to empower women to respond to these acts for what they are—acts of violence. So erase that fake smile and say NO!
• • •
The texts, books and articles, interviews aimed at empowering the liberated female “character” exalting the masculine ideas about the cold, rude, dominatrix woman, like “the perfect woman” should be outside their nature. Bibliographic examples: Cosmopolitan, Teen, “Why men love bitches” by Sherry Argov, and more.
Still the pink code in the west and the veil code for the women in the Islam world that means to oppose the relativism of human rights for women. All models and clichés for women and men. Gangsta rap, which idiotizes men to treat women like idiots alike Trumpism. Still the high heels of sexploitation and too tight business suits which boss women around to oppress others and themselves. Mummism which does not demand the care of men for the children and elderly and weaker ones.
Halina Bendkowski from Berlin-Germany
Women being paid less than men, women’s jobs being valued at less than men’s jobs. The exclusion of women from higher paying trades jobs. That trades jobs pay more than office jobs.
The Bible (both Old and New Testaments): the Bible and all other pre-and pro-scriptions of traditional organized religions. They all preach and reinforce the subservience of women to men, which is then stamped with the imprimatur of GOD. There is no appeal. This is NATURE speaking.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, with a committee of 26 women, spent many years in the latter part of the 19th century revising the Bible into The Woman’s Bible. Matilda Joslyn Gage concluded that the Bible could not be salvaged or revised sufficiently to support women’s rights. I agree with Gage.
The Bible sanctifies dominance and submission as the natural order. This idea extends over everybody and everything in the universe into a full-blown and inevitable hierarchy as the model for the world. We are all predestined to fulfill the roles assigned to us at birth. The Bible imposes its order both on the external world and internally within each of us. Marx was right when he pronounced religion as the opiate of the masses! According to the Bible, sex is sin and evil and woman is THE sex. Women have to be punished for this. During Stanton’s day, the suffragists were afraid of taking on religion and denounced Stanton’s efforts. Stanton believed that the vote would not be sufficient to free women.
Look at the United States and the role religion still plays in justifying women’s oppression! In fact, one could argue that religion is used to vindicate America’s various slaughters around the world: “It’s for their own good.” Sure!
High heels, most definitely! Those poor young fashion slaves in their 6 inch Pradas don’t realize that they’ll be crippled by 50. Not so much bras, because some women need them for comfort and support. Manspreading and mansplaining!
Our brutal profit driven capitalism-imperialism system – and along with it male supremacy and white supremacy.
A few mean bosses I’ve had over the years – also a few murderous police and MDs. I’m so tired from working so hard all day today I can’t think hard enough to remember all the immediate specific things I’d like to throw in.
I would love to toss post modernism in the trash – underminded feminist analysis of power and “deconstructed” everything so there was nothing left to analyse or name as an oppression….
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