In the last week or so, the incident at the CFI Student Leadership Conference involving one of the speakers, namely Rebecca Watson has gone quite viral. Rebecca Watson, a feminist who goes by the name of "SkepCHICK" (my emphasis) on the internet, was in the bar during the conference, and at around 4 in the morning decided she was tired, so she said she was going up to her room to bed. She talks about her reaction to the incident which occurred on her way to her room in the video below:
The incident in question involves a man who stepped onto the elevator with her, who then asked her, 'Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?'
Now, most women (like Rebecca) would be taken aback by such a remark, and would not even consider his request, and would probably be frightened to be in an elevator alone with such a man. Granted, it must have been an uncomfortable situation for her, but the man in question did nothing illegal. It could have been much worse, as it has been for so many women who are viewed as "chicks" by men--which brings me to the point of this post. Just like the movie "The Ledge" does nothing to promote positive atheism, Rebecca calling herself a "chick" does nothing to promote positive feminism.
I emailed Rebecca about how her moniker as a "Skepchick" is viewed by others, especially men. As a feminist myself, I felt it my duty to do so, as I do not believe she understands the significance of the word when she applies it to herself, which resulted in the following conversation:
ME: "As a feminist and a philosopher, I cannot help but see the irony in the fact that you mention in the video how some things are "ingrained in our culture" yet you call yourself a "chick"--which is a word that has been "ingrained in our culture" and is a derogatory term that men can use against women. The origin of the word "chick" is said to be the short form for chicken, and its use in American slang is to refer to a young woman, and is attributed to Sinclair Lewis' book "Elmer Gantry (1927):
"He has determined that marriage would cramp his advancement in the church and that, anyway, he didn't want to marry this BRAINLESS LITTLE FLUFFY CHICK, who would be of no help in impressing rich parishioners."
This is how ingrained the matrix has become--when women who fight to overcome the stereotypes--stereotype themselves! I just thought I would at least inform you of this fact if you were unaware of it.
REBECCA: "We are not unaware that "chick" was used in the past in a derogatory way. Many groups reclaim and redefine words used to put them in their place, such as "nigger," "fag," and "bitch.
ME: "Thank you for your reply. However, I would also like to point out that you can only "reclaim" a word in a positive sense, if that word had some positive connotations attached to it in the first place. "Chick" never had a positive connotation in reference to women. The stereotyping is so pervasive, no matter how you may view it, the majority will still define it negatively. I understand why you might think you are "taking back" and empowering the word --but I can guarantee you that the "Boys Club" does not see it that way. This is why you will continue to have to put up with men in elevators...... Sad, but true."
REBECCA: "What positive connotation was attached to the words "nigger," "fag," and "bitch" before being reclaimed? And did you really just blame the name of my site for me getting sexually objectified?"
ME: "There are no positive connotations associated with any of the words mentioned, except perhaps "bitch" and when they are used by those who believe they are "taking them back"--it reinforces the belief of those in the "boys club" that people are "niggers" "fags" and "chicks"--which is why we have seen so little change in the view of women and minorities by those in power. The usage of these terms is partly to blame for women being objectified. I would not blame you for being objectified--we are fighting the same battle. I blame the system--which unfortunately promotes women objectifying themselves. "Chick" has no positive connotations associated with it. "Bitch" may be an exception, as it can mean a strong, forceful woman--but there is nothing to "take back" in being a "chick." I do not mean to offend--just enlighten. You may disagree with me, and that is your right to do so. I have been a feminist for a long time, and am well acquainted with the "boys club." I write against Christianity because it has maintained the pervasive sexism we still see in society."
In conclusion, I still maintain that a feminist calling herself a "chick" does nothing to support her cause for equality and respect for women, just as the movie "The Ledge" does nothing to promote positive views of atheism when atheists are portrayed as adulterers. How sad. Mary Daly would not be impressed.