Man, that would be sweet, because truth be told, I want to run away from some of "those feminists" as much as you do. And just because I read We Hunted the Mammoth, it doesn't follow I am exactly in my element in the comments section. In fact, lately, the moderators have been slamming commenters for failing to meet their own exacting standards of political correctness. Well, it's their party, they can do what they want to, but...
Some of the gals over there remind me why I avoided "feminism" for years and years (until the New Misogynists forced my hand).
Back in the late eighties, I returned from a couple of years teaching in a women's college in Al Hasa, Saudi Arabia, a region that Saudis themselves consider "the sticks." It was like escaping a minimum-security, air-conditioned prison. I moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to explore a different professional direction (lateral, of course, since my life has been one long series of entry-level positions).
Glenwood Springs is a beautiful resort town in the foothills of the Rockies and it was close to where my mother was living. However, not being an "outdoorsy" type, I was frustrated by the lack of social opportunities. In an effort to meet other women of similar age and background, I joined the local chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women).
I lasted approximately two months. I wasn't exactly booted out, but I wasn't made to feel welcome, either. See, I had assumed I was a feminist, but I quickly learned that I wasn't the right kind of feminist.
Here's how it happened. The Gulf War had just started. In response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the United States was stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. Suddenly there was a great deal of interest in the Gulf. Because I had just returned from the region, the ladies of NOW invited me to speak about my impressions of what life was like for Saudi women. Of course, I accepted. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to become recognized as part of the organization. Besides, who doesn't like to talk about their travels? I had slides and everything!
I spent hours preparing a brief but informative talk about what goes on behind the veil of the Kingdom. I pulled together what I thought was an interesting, original take on what happens when a person is immersed in a very foreign culture. I explained what my preconceived notions had been, and how they had been challenged by the reality of my experience.
I don't remember everything I shared, but I do recall explaining how surprised I had been when I realized that, contrary to envying my free-wheeling life as a single western woman, the female Saudi students and faculty actually pitied me. I could drive? Big deal! They had drivers. I was allowed to work? Too bad! They didn't have to work. I wasn't married? What kind of deadbeat dad neglected to secure his daughter's future?
By traditional Saudi standards, I was a complete washout as a woman: no gold, no sons, no family to support me, just an itinerant worker one level up from their Sri Lankan maids at home. Plus, I was kind of dirty -- not physically, of course, but in a spiritual sense. Girls would carefully sweep aside their skirts when I approached, lest I contaminate them. It was a humbling experience to have a student bolt from the room to perform ritual ablutions because I had inadvertently touched her. They openly speculated I was no virgin, despite my never-married state, and I could hardly deny that. In short, I was regarded as an object of some contempt. Teaching English under these conditions was a challenge. Fortunately, the only English they wanted or needed to learn was what they could use on their next shopping trip to London. I supplemented the heavily censored textbooks with heavily censored fashion magazines.
The experience was a real eye-opener for me, and fundamentally changed my perception of my status as a privileged, liberated woman. I realized how arrogant I had been.
Then I wound up my presentation by speaking in favor of the U.S. intervention in Kuwait, which I supported. It seemed evident to me that when a sovereign nation is invaded, the rest of the world has an obligation to come to its defense. That was not the line this particular crowd of feminists wanted to hear.
I stumbled off the podium to a tepid trickle of applause. During the coffee break, everyone studiously avoided me, although I seem to recall one woman murmuring in passing that my talk had been rather "disappointing."
That, and a number of similar experiences since, has taught me that as much as I ally myself with card-carrying feminists in the cause of gender equality, I am unlikely to find my social needs met by that community. Because I'm not very interested in "feminism." I am bored to death by feminist theory (the boys over at CAFE have read more feminist literature than I have). I don't really understand what "women's studies" even means as an academic discipline. I took a "Psychology of Women" class as a freshman, back in the day when lesbianism was a form of political expression and Ted Hughes was a brute who had pushed his wife's head into an oven, and I thought the instructor was positively cracked.
I don't know that I have any close friends who self-identify as "feminists" although they sure know (and resent) sexual discrimination when they experience it. Most of my friends are working stiffs like I am, trying to keep their heads (and their families) above water. Some of them are atheists, some of them are believers; some of them are straight, some are queer; some are traditional, some are boundary-pushers; most of them are parents, a few are without issue. The only thread of commonality is that they are all decent people who care about the well-being of their fellow (wo)man and can laugh at the absurdities of life.
Truth be told, I'd rather spend an afternoon with an anti-feminist like "Geisha Kate," Mark Minter's wife, than half the commentators on We Hunted the Mammoth. At least (judging by her comments here) she seems like a pleasant person. The fact that we probably vehemently disagree about everything under the sun doesn't mean we couldn't enjoy a coffee now and then. And, who knows, maybe I could correct the "errors" in her thinking while we got our nails done.