Article written by :: (RSS)

Helen has been writing at the Cast Iron Balcony since 2003. She has been a proud contributor to the Australian Group blogs Road to Surfdom, Larvatus Prodeo and Progressive Dinner Party. She's a blogger, she's a grinner, she's a mother, she's a sinner. She plays her music in the sun.

This author has written 35 posts for Hoyden About Town. Read more about Helen »

28 responses to “International Women’s day: On being the Groke”

  1. Blogaddict

    Hah – this is exactly how I feel, blogging in private, spreading my feminist memes in secracy, under assumed names (ahhh so many of them!). I love your metaphor of the Groke. Brilliantly apt. However, I may be *somewhat* more forthright than you, as I do tend to bring out the feminist perspective in any conversation, although in cmpany where I’m not sure the majority of people will be receptive (or wont be hostile) i tend to phrase my opinions in the least confrontational way I can think of at the time. Cool, calm, ULTRA rationale…even when I feel like jumping up and down and accusing all who disagree with me as woman haters.

    But despite the unflappable rationality and unassailability of my pro-feminist arguments, I have had the effect of being the groke, but you know what, I persevere, or at least inject a bit of humour (usually at my detractors expense). I now no longer care whether I’ve been labled as the outspoken feminist, and have found myself distancing myself from former friends who are blantantly patriarchal in their thinking, and I’m fine with that.

    I think i saw your blogname on iblamethepatriarchy.com b.t.w. Was going to contribute more but got sidetracked, and now i’ve found this aussie blog….

    Am still trying to think up a cool blogname…
    Anyway, good post, I can really relate.

    Grokes unite!!!

    Happy International Womens Day everyone. Wish I could do more to contribute than just blog, but its a start.

  2. lauredhel

    This is so true! *hugs the Groke*

    I love the way the Groke is treated in the books (well, we’re only up to Tales from Moominvalley, but so far). She is initially feared as a “bogeyman” figure, but becomes understandable and relatable without being pathetic or one-dimensional. She just is. Jansson has such a deep respect for her characters.

    Happy International Womens Day everyone. Courage, love, peace, and justice for you all.

  3. The Amazing Kim

    I’ve just started uni and made new friends with a bunch of people. I’m vaguely wondering their reaction on Wednesday when I eschew the usual lunchtime gathering for a meeting of the campus feminists, and then the queer collective.

    (Probably not much, since I’m hardly the most subtle person in a room)

  4. Beppie

    I know how it feels to be afraid of speaking up. I have spoken up before, around some of my social groups, and now I often feel like they’re testing me, when they recommend that I watch something that they know has certain misogynist themes and the like — “Oh, maybe you won’t like this, Beppie, because you take things so seriously.” And this is from groups that iare generally very progressive and who set me on the path to feminism in the first place, being so strongly pro-choice, and so supportive of powerful women (big fans of Hillary Clinton and Carmen Lawrence, among others, during my formative teenage years). And now I do find it harder to speak up, because I know I’ll be considered the “bad one” for doing so — because, misogyny is not considered impolite, but speaking out against misogyny is terribly rude, because it ruins the fun for everyone, apparently.

  5. opal

    What an excellent analogy! I get this at work a lot – lighten up, don’t be so serious, you’re looking for problems where there are none, etc.

  6. fuckpoliteness

    Yes, one of my bosses once said ‘What HAPPENED to you as a child’ just to get laughs from the other boss at my expense. And the answer is nothing much…but you know…easy target cos I was whinging about gendered socialisation and how if you put a girl in a dress and then tell her it’s ‘yucky’ for her undies to be seen she can’t climb a tree/hang upside down/karate kick a bully etc…

    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..Catholic Church WTF moment: The washing machine and Women’s Liberation

  7. kris

    For what it’s worth, when you’re not being explicitly feminist over at LP, the things you write are still obviously informed by the critical perspective that feminism gives us. They are a breath o fresh air/ Grokely chill.

    Just as obvious is the ‘now steady on …’ flavour to (some of) the comments responding to your ideas.

    The ‘problem’ with feminism is that no matter how we try to lighten the message, we are asking people to, at the very, very least, examine their own complacency and complicity in an overwhelming system of oppression. That’s always going to be an uncomfortable experience.

  8. QoT

    The ‘problem’ with feminism is that no matter how we try to lighten the message, we are asking people to, at the very, very least, examine their own complacency and complicity in an overwhelming system of oppression. That’s always going to be an uncomfortable experience.

    SO TRUE.

  9. Helen

    Further to what Q0T said: We don’t get out of doing that ourselves, either. Educating oneself about feminist theory / practice (I’m speaking for people like me who haven’t done womens studies or gender studies, specifically, at university), especially around the US blogs, bloggers like me – white, middle class, posessed of a certain amount of privilege – get pulled up when we assume things that aren’t necessarily useful. For example.

    I guess as self identified feminists we put our hand up for that to various extents, and many of our accidental readers haven’t. But because soft-patriarchal and overtly antifeminist norms are actually hurting people, I say “too bad” to that.

    BTW, I never meant to give the impression I never speak up about feminist stuff in company! I was greatly moved as many other people were by Kate Harding’s “that guy? thought you were on his side.” It’s just that I won’t often talk about being a feminist blogger as such in the process. (Look where it got me- trailer reversing is on my to-do list). And sometimes my protest takes the form of looking blank at someone’s lovely joke rather than rolling around in mirth. Like Twisty’s method of horse training, forinstance. Withholding the positive reinforcement.

  10. Helen

    I love all your comments BTW. So much the opposite of what I’m complaining about in the post.

  11. Anna

    Hey Beppie, I get that a bit too with friends.

    The one that sticks out to me (unfairly, completely unfairly for my friend, who was just trying to understand my pov about things) was assuming that if I don’t like a book, the book isn’t feminist enough for me. (This was the Bujold books about Cordelia.) Really, I just didn’t like the style of writing. (Or, I admit, the easy-peasy way Cordelia adjusted to cultre shock, but I had just moved to China three months before reading them.) But there must have been something I was seeing wrong with them, with my feminist-gaze or something.

    Sometimes, I just don’t like something because it isn’t for me.

  12. fuckpoliteness

    Oh, sometimes I get ‘Well THAT isn’t very feminist’ about a show I like, or a song I’m into (I really liked to dance around to “My humps” by the Black Eyed Peas…and ok, no 100% on the feminist stakes, but I liked this bit:
    They say I’m really sexy,
    The boys they wanna sex me.
    They always standing next to me,
    Always dancing next to me,
    Tryin’ a feel my hump, hump.
    Lookin’ at my lump, lump.
    You can look but you can’t touch it,
    If you touch it I’ma start some drama,
    You don’t want no drama,
    No, no drama, no, no, no, no drama
    So don’t pull on my hand boy,
    You ain’t my man, boy,
    I’m just tryn’a dance boy,
    And move my hump.

    Which I thought WAS kinda feminist and definately spoke to my experiences in clubs of guys just *assuming* it was ok to grab you etc.

    And you know…I can have issues with things, but if I only EVER liked purely unproblematically feminist movies/music I’d never have anything to watch or listen to…but no no, feminists have to be ONE DIMENSIONAL or they’re hypocrites.

  13. fuckpoliteness

    I really *like* the idea of treating misogynists like horses who need more training, and withholding positive reinforcement [and the blank/cold stare works a treat doesn't it] though I’d prefer to treat them as a puppy in toilet training and rub their nose in their own wee…

  14. Beppie

    And you know…I can have issues with things, but if I only EVER liked purely unproblematically feminist movies/music I’d never have anything to watch or listen to…but no no, feminists have to be ONE DIMENSIONAL or they’re hypocrites.

    I so hear what you’re saying here. The other thing that comes out of this is that if you DO like something that is problematic, and people who know that you identify as a feminist know you like it, then they will be all, “Oh, well, it can’t be that bad to do X, Y, Z, if it happened in that show you like.”

  15. Helen

    IWD around the world. (this is a great roundup, “Justin”, whoever you are!)

  16. Anna

    The blank cold stare is something I’m only beginning to develop, but the few times I’ve used it have been great.

    Hey, how many of you get demands that you explain something that some feminist did to someone else before you were born? I mean, geeze, yes, I can totally explain the thought processes of people who I’ve never met, totally. *sigh*

  17. fuckpoliteness

    Tangentially but apparently on similar logic I also get held to account for environmentalists everywhere…I mean, I *like* the earth, and I try to recycle, but somehow being a feminist means I get lambasted over how State Rail had to build a BIG DEEP TUNNEL through a National Park instead of the BRIDGE THEY PLANNED!!! Or how there are LAWS about how many days on which you can burn off…and I’m like ‘Hey WHAT? I don’t KNOW about these things, and why are you acting like I’m anti bridges or something’. Is very confusing.

    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..Catholic Church WTF moment: The washing machine and Women’s Liberation

  18. hendo

    My boyfriend gave me those books for my birthday. They were totally whimsical. Love the Groke!

    And *sigh* I am the Groke, too. the constant trickle of let’s-be-reasonable, you’re looking to be offended, get a sense of humour, Dear God What about the Men? – this is exactly what I get all the time. I understand (like another commenter said) that we’re interrupting the flow of conversation by asking people to examine their privilege and the way they think. But damn. It’s not trivial. It’s the oppression of half the human race, FFS.

  19. Celebrating the Little Things in Life « HellOnHairyLegs

    [...] people deal with sexual assault/ harassment. Feminism does help people, even if I do feel like The Groke [...]

  20. Deborah

    though I’d prefer to treat [misogynists] as a puppy in toilet training and rub their nose in their own wee…

    LOLed. Fantastic, thank you FP.

    Deborah’s last blog post..Knitting! And advice, please?

  21. Aphie

    The other thing that comes out of this is that if you DO like something that is problematic, and people who know that you identify as a feminist know you like it, then they will be all, “Oh, well, it can’t be that bad to do X, Y, Z, if it happened in that show you like.”

    Argh! Yes, yesyesyes Beppie!
    Apparently I’m not supposed to watch or enjoy mainstream TV, film and books now.
    I’m not sure where the location of the black hole I’m meant to exist within IS exactly, but when I get directions y’all can come live there too?

  22. We must not walk away from this fight « blue milk

    [...] to see it retreat into the background. Please consider signing the GetUp! Campaign petition. And a happy International Womens’ Day to us [...]

  23. Moominmama

    Yay for Moomins!

    I can fully identify with the pause-and-then-move-on response people give on being called out on thoughtlessness or outright bigotry. Calling it a Groke moment sums it up well! And after a while, the not-so-subtle game of lets-wind-up-the- feminist that often follows does tend to take the shine off social engagements. But I don’t care to socialise or work with people who aren’t prepared to accept me as fully human. I guess I’m just eccentric that way…

  24. Bene

    Great post and great comments. I wish I was more coherent to comment myself, but hear hear.

  25. chris

    Before I went to colege I was a much better feminist male then I am now, I mean given the way I was raised it was just a basic part of how I viewed the world. Science is cool. Women get shafted. The poor get shafted. Good people try to make it better. But now I’m at school and all I ever here is people complaining about the Gender Equality Center and its just hard to try and stand up for what I believe. Especialy because it sounds like the GEC does kind of suck, that the leader uses her position as wife of someone high up to push out other issues. Like we used to have womans month and an asia month. but now we just have two months of woman isuses. But I dont know. eh

  26. tigtog

    Without knowing whether the GEC at your college does indeed suck or whether it’s just very good at provoking folks to think about what they’d rather not notice, it’s always possible to defend feminism as a philosophy without being required to defend every single person/group/organisation/enterprise that identifies as feminists – people either singly or in groups can always fuck things up, and if they do fuck something up then that shouldn’t reflect on feminism as a whole, although it’s usually used as if it proves some deeply fundamental point.

  27. Helen

    Chris, you might like to think about how some of that is probably just scuttlebutt, too.

  28. The Eleventh Down Under Feminists’ Carnival « WhyI’mbitter’s Weblog

    [...] Another great International Women’s Day post is up over at Hoyden About Town by Helen, International Women’s day: On being the Groke and Podblack has a post the vatican’s thoughts on this day, I Was Liberated By A Washing [...]

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.