You outta know…that Alanis Morissette is a feminist (see what I did there?). But she is not just any feminist, she is determined to see a revolution in the movement in order for it to be more powerful in the 21st century. We’re all pretty familiar with the term being very polarizing these days. Many claim there is “no need” for a movement that advocates for the social, political an economic equality of all genders.
Others, however, see there is still a growing and vital need for it. Intersectionality has become a massive focus for the modern movement, because issues relating to race and the LGBTQ community are being championed in many ways by feminism. Nevertheless, there is much work to be done to reach complete gender equality, and for the term to stop being such a polarizing issue.
In a powerful essay for Time magazine, Alanis says she considers it an honor to be a feminist, and that the concept of feminism is a “mandatory link in a chain toward wholeness, cohesion, maturation and functionality.”
“I do believe, however, that the definition of feminism needs some refocusing, redefining and updating for this modern time, and for this new generation, and that the movement deserves a reorienting, intentionality and re-envisioning for what is possible and how to get there. We need a revolution to the feminist revolution. And it needs to be brought to the fore of our awareness in order to heal what ails our times on this planet,” she begins.
The majority of the feminist movement’s existence has primarily been about breaking down the power of the damage inflicted by patriarchy, and often forces the feminine energy that has emerged from this movement to adhere to the structures of the patriarchal movement, rather than dismantling and starting a whole new perspective on power.
“The patriarchy has always seemed an ignorant and emotionally immature purgatory at best, and, at worst, a despair-filled holding pattern carefully held together by resistance, hate, hostility and separatism—the cost of which is felt across every area of life, in women and men alike…Patriarchy may afford a false sense of power afforded to those who keep the hate in place, but that power is temporary and false, and it will never yield the peace and well-being that is not only possible but is every person’s birthright. The water of what is possible…by embracing the feminine still rushes powerfully as the dam of patriarchy stays willfully (if not temporarily) frozen in place,” she writes.
She does point out that despite her well known track ‘You Outta Know’ off her album Jagged Little Pill, man-hating has never been her “thing”. That song was about a personal break-up and did not in any way reflect her views on the entire male species, although that narrative was certainly forced upon her through the mainstream, she says. As an aside, we have to say how tragic it is that a strong woman unashamedly declaring her feelings out loud like Alanis should be synonymous with hating men. That is certainly an aspect of the movement which needs to be revolutionized!
“Feminism is incomplete without its dualistic brother, its complement, and, ideally, its greatest supporter: the empowered masculine…Whether this is indicated in our choices sexually, physically, emotionally, vocationally or artistically, we are moving ever closer to getting a real sense of who we are as humans based on where we fall on this continuum,” she said.
It is an idea that many feminists are starting to speak up about, needing male allies. It is also becoming a more recognized movement among men, recently the most famous of which was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who boldly declares he is a feminist out loud on the world stage and says he will continue to do so until his comment is met with a shrug, as if it is the most normal thing in the world. Amen to that!
“The delicate and powerful outcome of what happens when the feminine and the masculine work in tandem is what I am interested in,” says Alanis, while adding the violence still inflicted upon women around the world today, as well as LGBT community members and feminine men needs to end in order for anything aside from masculine to be considered powerful and equal.
“There has been so much death, mutilation, annihilation, reduction, aversion and obliteration of the feminine and the female/feminine body as has been evidenced with female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, hyper-sexualisation in entertainment and pop culture, LGBT hate, unequal pay, lack of education about the female body, public shaming, bashing and bullying, and to know it is still happening across the planet on a daily basis is nothing short of soul-killing and archaic,” she said.
Alanis does mention the enormous strides being made for women, especially in the Western world.
“Women can be presidents (if still frequently challenged on the basis of their gender) or CEOs (if still having had to work 10 times harder than men to get there) or movie stars (if still having to fight to earn anywhere near the same wage as their male co-stars), or play the natural roles that they were born to play with less resistance. Could this in fact be…tip-toeing toward the light at the end of the tunnel of unification…? Painstakingly slowly, to be sure,” she writes.
It is interesting that in parenthesis she equates patriarchy to the “disempowered masculine”, clearly identifying to her audience that patriarchal power also does great damage to men. It is also not a model that the feminist movement should copy as it continues to influence the world.
“If the goal is less polarization and the greater acceptance of the masculine and the feminine qualities in all of us, then the goal being in sight might well be the gift that this new generation and new era is offering…if patriarchy (disempowered masculine) relies on a silenced and reduced feminine (disempowered feminine), then true empowerment is an internal movement toward maturation and healing, and renewed defining of personal power and responsibility and a re-working of what it means to achieve success on this planet,” she said.
In a recent interview for an India literature festival, Egyptian feminist activist and author Mona Eltahawy expertly explained that feminism today is a very big threat to many men because their only knowledge of power is the top-down approach that patriarchal and dictatorship is built upon. But the feminist power comes from everyone, that means all genders, having an equal share of power and being afforded the space to live it out as they see best away from societal or structural limitations. It makes perfect sense, and once this notion of the different power structures becomes more common, it will go a long way to moving feminism forward.
“Hating men for the oppression we as women have experienced…just keeps the gender and gender-quality divide ever entrenched. We must take our passion and energy for the lunacy of this reductivism and channel it toward change: addressing first, the egregious lack of celebration of the feminine and all feminine qualities; and second, and equally important, the redefinition of what empowerment looks like in the masculine,” Alanis continued.
She concludes by outlining some of the far-reaching effects around the world in a number of different industries are areas when each person on the planet is given permission to look at every part of themselves as empowered.
“When glimpses of a new way to live occur, it is truly a powerful and light-filled sight to behold. We have already seen it take shape in fits and starts in this new generation and in our culture: More fathers being supported. Fewer power-struggle-filled forms of parenting and relating. More emotional literacy. More masculine-oriented women having the careers that they have dreamed of since they were very young. More empowered men supporting empowered women. More diversity. More acceptance of personal lifestyle and sexual preference choices. More connection. More responsibility,” she said.
Words like “weakness”, “submission” and “vulnerability” would in themselves be revolutionized to become terms that aren’t necessarily negative.
“‘Weakness’ would be more respectfully associated with yielding (a deeply intuitive ability) or resting (an underrated action in today’s work addicted world) or humility, with humility serving as a portal to our own sense of spirituality—a lost goal in a world obsessed with industry and ‘might being right’,” she said.
When we read her very wholistic and spiritual perspective on the benefits of advancing feminism, we can’t help but will it into existence across the world now. As Alanis did mention in her piece, there are slow advances being made, but every one of us is responsible for either maintaining the status quo, sending us back in time to a power structure that served a limited amount of people, or moving us forward into a world where everyone benefits equally. We know which one of those we want to be focused on. You can read her full essay by clicking here.