I’ll be honest. I’m not really sure where this post is heading. It was inspired by yet another “this pu**y is off to march” photo that showed up on one of my social media feeds. It, along with Hillary Clinton’s presidential run and the rash of feminist spewing in response to Trump’s election, has caused me to reconsider my thoughts on feminism and what it means to me. Sharing those thoughts in some kind of succinct and organized “personal manifesto” is proving a somewhat difficult task. So, join me if you will, as we jump on the stream of consciousness train and see if I can make some sense of these contemplations.
I thought I knew what feminism was but…
Because today’s feminism seems a whirlwind of angry tirades with no clear message or direction, I thought I’d refer to the dictionary for some clarity. Here are two definitions of feminism to consider:
- the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
- organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.
Oxford English Dictionary: a movement or theory that supports the rights of women.
These definitions are more closely aligned to what I thought feminism was – a movement dedicated to ensuring women are given the same rights as men. Today’s feminism, however, appears to be veering more towards an expectation of special treatment simply because you are a woman. Instead of focusing on what women offer by using their brains, celebrating the many contributions women have made and continue to make in the world around us, and encouraging young women to find success on their own merits, today’s feminists resemble an angry mob, obsessed with vaginas and adamant that if you don’t think as they do, then you are a not a true, card-carrying member of womankind.
Whether it is running for president, climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, or embarking upon any endeavor that is historically more challenging for women, the expectation to succeed simply on the basis of our gender does a disservice to women everywhere. Personally speaking, I don’t want opportunities begrudgingly handed to me by someone who is more concerned about meeting quotas rather than recognizing and rewarding a job well done. I want to earn success by working for it, by thinking and standing up for myself, by doing such a good job that the only reason people can say I made it, is because of what I did to get myself there. To me, that’s what equality means. Even the playing field, and let me do the rest.
Marches and protests in general.
The march of women 2017 (#notmymarch) – a day when feminists around the world donned their “pu**yhats,” picked up their placards emblazoned with the usual angry rhetoric, and took to the streets to protest the incoming U.S. administration, support abortion rights, and, um…I’m not really sure what else. All I remember about the march are the hats, the obscene terminology, and the inane speeches delivered by celebrity participants. I could be wrong, but it seems no one was actually talking about the issues once the march ended but were instead focused on Madonna’s desire to blow up the White House (I know, taken out of context, right?). For all appearances, the only thing this march probably did was reinforce the beliefs of those people who already see women as irrational human beings ruled by their emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against protesting. Protests and marches have their time and place. In fact, there are many countries around the world that could definitely benefit from thousands of women banding together to protest the oppression of their female citizens. However, in this country, I’m just not sure events like the march of women are necessarily an effective tool for change.
Consider the protests and marches of Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, or the Greensboro Four and what do you remember? Do you remember what they were wearing, what celebrities showed up to get their faces in the newspaper, what obscenities and insults they shouted, or the damages they left behind? Of course you don’t, because these individuals didn’t rely on such tactics. They left no fodder behind that would obstruct the meaning of the protests and the injustices they were highlighting. Their peacefulness allowed the bigoted and close-minded to expose themselves. That’s a powerful statement.
Perhaps we should also consider the actions of families who have lost loved ones to violent crime. In many instances, these families feel let down by existing laws or a complete absence of laws that may have protected their loved one in the first place. In hopes of preventing others from experiencing the same loss and pain, these families often embark upon lifelong missions to get existing laws changed or new ones in place. Rarely do they get the necessary law makers on their side by engaging in uncouth, foul-mouthed demonstrations. They achieve their goals through hard work, determination, publicity, and ensuring they remain in constant contact with those who can change the laws in question.
The issue of abortion.
It is almost impossible to discuss feminism without mentioning the issue of abortion. This is basically the cornerstone issue of the feminist movement – if you are a woman and you are not pro-choice, you CANNOT be a feminist.
Abortion is a particular area of contention for me personally as a pro-life supporter. (Again, a statement that’s enough to nullify any of my opinions on feminism in the eyes of today’s hard-core feminists.)
I won’t make this a spiritual debate because that would be pointless. Those who see abortion as a medical procedure that merely removes a coagulation of unwanted cells are not going to change their views simply because I believe a human life is created at the moment of conception. Setting my beliefs aside, there is one other major issue that disturbs me about abortion. Whether women like to admit it or not, they do not create life on their own. At least for now, men are still involved in that process. Yet, feminists seem to believe they should be the only ones with the power to decide the fate of a life it takes two people to create. I’m confused as to why it is acceptable for only a woman to make that decision? Carrying a child for nine months does not give us a “one up” over men to decide whether or not that child lives or dies.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I’m sure there are some who think my attitude is backward or naive and that I’ve never encountered sexism in any form. I can assure you, they’d be mistaken. Though I am on “hiatus” at the moment, I have worked part and full-time since I was 13 years old. As a teen, I encountered inappropriate comments from males much older than I. For most of my adult life, I worked in institutions of higher education in mid-sized West Texas towns where the good ol’ boy system is still alive and kicking. Throughout my years in the workforce, however, I wanted to be a strong, independent worker. It wasn’t always easy, and I wasn’t always successful, but I was determined to demonstrate my strength through my work, the way I carried myself, and by not letting others walk all over me or put me down. In my mind, this is what gets people’s attention in the real world and by challenging the outdated views of those around you, you can also affect change in a positive and powerful way.
Today’s feminism and young women.
I have a 17-year old stepdaughter. She is extremely intelligent, imaginative, and caring. I believe she can do anything she puts her mind to and she can accomplish anything through her own merit, if she is willing to work for it. I don’t want her to buy into this philosophy that she should be given special treatment or privilege simply because she is female. I hope she is proud to be female and that she embraces all that means. I hope she proves wrong anyone, male or female, who ever tells her she cannot realize her goals and ambitions.
To be frank, I’m not sure how today’s feminism empowers young women at all. It’s difficult to foster any sense of pride or self-motivation if you are taught others owe you opportunities simply because of your gender.
I guess I’m not a feminist. I can live with that.
While I believe in equality of the sexes, both here and around the world, I’m just not quite radical or angry enough to be deemed a feminist. On the other hand, if being a feminist means donning a “pu**y hat, expecting special treatment based upon my gender, or embracing derogatory terms typically reserved for sexist banter, then I’m okay with that.