The Ice Cube Effect and Feminism
First: A Cultural Curio
When Canadians cross their southern border to spend time in the US, we notice all sorts of weird and wonderful things about how our cultures differ. So I figured I’d entertain you with a small, but significant, difference (significant if you enjoy a properly prepared beverage, that is) before I use it to help illustrate a very significant problem in feminism today.
When a mild-mannered Canadian finds herself in an American restaurant, she usually gets herself a beverage. It might be water, it might be pop (that’s Canadian for ‘soda’, ‘soda pop’ and other American variations on ‘carbonated beverage’), it might be an alcoholic beverage. But no matter where she finds herself, one thing is true: you get a glass with your beverage of choice, and a massive fucking pile of ice within. It sets you to cussing and looking for an extra glass, plate, ashtray (in the old days) and a spoon, so that you can scoop out most of the ice. Canadians don’t like a lot of ice in their drinks, and we are used to getting a choice about it. Go to any Canadian restaurant and your server (if a good one) will always ask you if you want ice in your drink when you are ordering. Most beverages are already refrigerated and are thus cold enough. And if you choose to get ice in Canada, you get just enough to keep the beverage cold. I learned about this as a small child, but when I lived in the US, I very quickly learned to say “no ice” upon ordering whenever I went out.
What’s the big deal, you might ask. Am I just a princess, or rather, are all Canadians princesses? Do we carry ice within out bodies, coming from the Great White North, as we do? Well no. Of course not. I can’t poop an ice cube to save my life. I occasionally have ice in my drink – a few cubes – but really, I seldom need it given that most bevs are refrigerated beforehand. The big deal is that with all that goddamn ice in your drink, it isn’t long before you have this watered down liquid that is no longer flavourful, satisfying, resembling what you wanted in the first place, and is ultimately not worth drinking. The ice cubes are not only plentiful, but they are also usually small, so they melt quickly, taking over with their own seeming agenda instead of just ‘supporting’ the drink. There is nothing more unsatisfying than an expensive, watered down rum and coke – or even just the coke on its own. Yuck to the nth degree! It always made me wonder whether Americans are just really fast drinkers, sucking down gallons of soda pop lickety split. The ‘unlimited refill’ is ubiquitous in and unique to the US – is it because everyone’s drinks are diluted and the time to enjoy beverage perfection is but a fleeting moment?
Anyhow, silliness aside, the melting ice cube phenomenon has nice imagery and application in other, more serious, areas of life. But please note that any comparison with the US is over. It applied to the non-serious story above only. The following is international in scope, and it is one that affects more than just your taste buds.
And so I come to feminism, my drink of choice. And the ice cubes, you might have guessed, are males.
Males pollute and dilute feminism, and if present in a feminist’s life or in the movement itself, very quickly will take over and impose their own agenda. It makes perfect sense if you allow yourself to think about it. Throughout history, men have ruined everything and have made women’s lives hell on earth through their violence and colonization of every aspect of our controlled lives. If it weren’t for this truth, there wouldn’t be this thing called feminism. In short, if women were liberated with equal access to all resources and opportunities, rights and freedoms, there would be no need for a tall glass of feminism. Feminism is the quest to liberate all women from oppression by males. Kaboom.
And so, like ice cubes in a drink of feminism, the more connections you have to males or the more you try to include males in feminism, the more watered down your feminism is. The ice cubes – males – melt and overwhelm the beauty of the drink. Your pure, simple and explicit feminist agenda turns into some unidentifiable, unsatisfying concoction that no longer serves your original interest. Rum and coke with melting ice becomes watery rum and coke. Feminism with males becomes male-focused ‘feminism’.
This truth will hurt the feelings of many women who consider themselves to be feminists. I’m talking about women who have men in their lives, and especially those with very tight and intense trauma bonds with husbands and sons. When you have pledged to take care of all the emotional, psychological, biological, sexual, and economic needs of a male or males, often to your own detriment as a woman, it is near impossible for you put women first. And putting women first is non-negotiable in feminism. After all, feminism isn’t “freeing women, so long as males aren’t inconvenienced, neglected, held responsible, or have their feelings hurt”. So, I’m sorry if this describes you and you feel defensive. Note that I haven’t said that you can’t call yourself a feminist. I’ve said that your feminism is compromised and diluted because your two investments are not complementary, but rather oppositional or contradictory. Supporting and lurving men does not help women. Rather the opposite, actually.
Even if you don’t have special, special relationships with special, special males, there are other ways men can infect how you approach the plight of women. How you conceptualize gender, violence, the cause of violence, and what your social justice priorities are – even painting your face or dressing like you’re advertising sex (no matter how you rationalize it) – will colour your feminism.
But let’s get down to business. I have some interactive fun – in the form of a quiz!!! – for you so you can explore your own glass of feminism to determine how much ice you have included, and ultimately, how diluted your drink is.
Now, I have graduate education in test design, intent, and analysis and I have government training and practice in measurement issues. So I have thought about and have experience in measuring shit and figuring out how bad our (male-designed) assessment tools are. Please note this: there are many problems with this quiz. Most important, my design tool (Polldaddy) was inadequate for my purposes. I wanted more nuance (e.g., weighted responses, assignment of ‘part marks’, etc.), and it just wasn’t possible. Also important, I haven’t tested this test (e.g., reliability and validity) prior to going public to determine whether it measures what it is supposed to. Hell, I haven’t even run it by a human editor or focus group to determine whether people can actually read and understand it!!! I mean, I have a leg up over other test designers, but without proper testing, proper tools, and needed edits and re-edits, this test is no more serious than some dumb-ass personality or sex quiz you’d find in some dumb-ass women’s magazine. So, what you have here is something that was fun for me to do cuz I’m a big nerd, but which shouldn’t be taken seriously other than perhaps to inspire some self-reflection on how much you are infected by the penis virus.
So if you want to take the “How Diluted Is Your Feminism?” quiz, please click the button. There will be a pop-up window care of Polldaddy. And it has 10 questions. Easy peasy.
Note that you’ll get a percentage at the end of the quiz without any explanation as to what it means. There is no ‘fail’. You can interpret your score how you wish. My only suggestion is that if you are scoring below 50%, you probably need to refresh your drink — and all that that implies.