After receiving a series of thoughtful and inspiring comments regarding her blog post about women’s arm wrestling, Salty Eggs staff writer Tara Nieuwesteeg felt compelled to answer her readers’ questions and keep the dialogue going. This is an open letter to them.
Dear Lady Arm Wrestlers:
Don’t get me wrong, I’m on your side. It makes me really happy to see women doing this and I wish there was a group anywhere near me doing it. (And, as someone pointed out in the comment section of my last blog on this topic, Salty Eggs would make an awesome arm-wrestling persona. I picture her as a foul-mouthed ovulating pirate.)
However, with so many political issues affecting women right now, I’d love to see a group of strong, likeminded women getting together to call attention to or effect change on some larger issues. Look at the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Or the number of states that don’t have equal pay for equal work laws. Or the disproportionately small number of women in elected offices. I don’t see any of those issues addressed in any of the stories I read about women’s arm wrestling. In fact, most of the articles written about the sport/hobby have tended to focus on the novelty of its flamboyant costumes and theatrical shenanigans. Shallow reporting, of course, is not your fault. But while you all are arm wrestling, there are groups out there efficiently passing legislation that specifically discriminates against women. Why not use your momentum in combatting that also?
Maybe this is feminism in that it encourages women to escape society’s expectations of a 1950s housewife, but that seems like an old battle. Raising money for charity is great and essential, but I’m not sure that’s specifically feminism in and of itself (even if the charities happen to benefit women). And a company or foundation being woman-run and woman-centric doesn’t necessarily make it feminism either. It really is great, and probably a direct outcome of past feminism, but I’d like to think that a woman simply running something herself shouldn’t be the goal of feminism nowadays. We’re past that, no?
The “empowerment of women” is a wonderful concept, too, but what does that actually mean?
Truth be told, I personally don’t care as much about the definition of feminism as I do about its outcomes (see the issues above). Calling something “feminism” just because it consists of women doing something fun and bad-ass isn’t enough anymore.
Maybe I’m wrong. I certainly agree that feminism has a shifting, flexible definition, and obviously we’re all on the same side. I want to hear more about this and write more about it, too. I’d love to talk to some of the people involved, so keep commenting and let’s continue this discussion.
You can also email Tara at email@example.com.