With varying rates of success, Arthur has been publishing the occasional satire piece this semester. Ana Maria Zapata’s “A Call for Love” (Arthur Issue 19) is by far the most compelling. Satire is not merely humour for humour’s sake, but should contain a biting critique of a particular issue, person, etc. Zapata (a pseudonym perhaps?) has accomplished this and has spelled out “why we need feminism” more clearly than campaigns that give individuals the opportunity to answer that question for themselves.
Ana Maria shows us just how easy it is to be taken in by the lure of heteronormativity and anti-feminist thinking. (How could one be anti-feminist anyway? It would amount to denying the fight for equality amongst genders.)
Indeed, the lure of offspring, that historical placeholder of the female, is even more tempting. The author’s piece reels us in – really, she sharply writes—about how the joys of giving birth, parenting, raising a child into a person, struggling and sacrificing everything so your child can become greater than yourself, must be extremely rewarding.
But once we are captured by this position, if not the truth of parenting, Ana Maria throws the satire in our face. The joys of child-bearing and rearing are so evident, she continues, that all contemporary social, political and psychological problems seem to rest on the contemporary woman’s (N.B.: Ana Maria’s gender binary) refusal to bear and raise her own.
However, this was just a tangential remark. The major problem for Ana Maria in her satirical article is the recent self-love week at Trent. Self-love can appear as selfishness, Ana Maria argues through exaggeration. We see the appeal of such a viewpoint, then realize the rhetoric in her satirical voices. There is undoubtedly, she notes, few things better than giving yourself to another person and feeling, in return, a person giving their entire self to you (except perhaps bearing and raising offspring).
Yet, as Ana Maria strongly claims in her satirical mode, such an unyielding and uncompromising view of love, if uncritically absorbed by an individual, can quickly beget the subordination of women. History may repeat itself, Ana Maria tells us with her satire, even in the most seemingly natural, beautiful, and unproblematic way: heterosexual love.
Truly, if heterosexual love in the manner Ana Maria describes, as well as bearing and raising children, are the societal and cultural norms, it intensifies our valuing of self-love week, especially for and from individuals who struggle to legitimize their identities, potentials and happiness with and against norms of heterosexuality, monogamy, and child-bearing (among many other heteronormative positions Ana Maria would surely argue).
I appreciate, then, Ana Maria’s efforts in validating Trent students’ efforts in self-love week and for reinforcing our views as to why, even in 2014 when some believe gender equality has been achieved, feminism is a political and pragmatic position that must maintain its fortitude, guts, grit and backbone.
Ana Maria’s satirical writing also inadvertently stands behind Kelly Davey, in her own opinion piece, “So that’s what a feminist looks like…” (Arthur, Feb. 10, 2014). Both authors seem to agree that feminism takes many forms, has many definitions, can be just about anyone, and can be written about in a number of different styles and modes.
Kelly ends her article by suggesting we give her piece to those who insult individuals by calling them feminists. I would add, provide them Ana Maria’s satirical letter as well – both authors hit the nail on the head.