According to many, we no longer need feminism. We American women already have everything we deserve.
Let me just be the first to say – ouch!
Really? I have everything I deserve?
Does that mean that I don’t deserve equal rights and equal protection under the law? Because, you know, I don’t actually have that. No American woman is guaranteed equal rights.
Does that mean that I don’t deserve access to legal medical procedures that could save my life? Because, you know, many women in America don’t.
Does that mean I don’t deserve equal pay for equal work? (No, I don’t want flex-time so I can take care of the children, Mitt Romney. I want to get paid the same as the man sitting next to me, working the same hours, producing the same amount and quality of work, with the same education and the same job experience. Or do you really think I only deserve 70% of what he makes?)
Does that mean that I don’t deserve the right to make choices about my health that affect me, my family and my future?
Does that mean I don’t deserve to have the law on my side if my spouse or life partner should decide I provoked him/her and decides I need a beating for it?
Does that mean I don’t deserve to feel safe walking alone at night? Or that I don’t deserve to feel safe wearing clothes I love because a man might take my outfit as an invitation?
Look, I get it, okay. I used to think feminism was a non-issue too. I was raised by a feminist and I thought she was nuts. I didn’t understand what she was so worked up about. I mean, she has an awesome husband. He cooks, he does dishes, and laundry, and is a great dad. He loved her and supported her choices and honored her freedom. What the heck did she have to feminize about?
But now that I’m a mom, of two daughters, I see where she was coming from.She wasn’t a feminist because her life was suffering, she was a feminist because she understood that her life was exceptional. Ours was not a normal family.
Every day I see a new reason we still need feminism.
I go to the store to buy birthday gifts for my daughters’ friends and I’m appalled. Speechless. So angry I can’t see straight.
The “boy” toys are all sorts of colors and shapes and sizes and they DO things. They’re active and engaging. I want to play with them. They’re fabulous.
The “girl” toys are all pink, with a splash of purple, and are about babies, or dress up, or makeup, or princesses… Quite frankly, they suck. You couldn’t pay me to take one of them home. The edges are dulled, the corners rounded. They feel safe, sanitized, boring.
I mean, come on, we’ve got The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. Boys get to learn how to tie knots, start fires and gut fish. Girls get to… knit. (Not that there’s anything wrong with knitting, it’s just – shouldn’t both books have all those options? And why do boys get to be dangerous, and girls can only dare to knit?)
Don’t get me started on the science kits… If you judge a kit by the gender of the kid on the box, boys get to be science wizards, blow stuff up, make things happen… Girls get to create beauty products and bubblegum.
I read an article about women in Hollywood. It claimed that if two female characters were allowed to interact and speak to each other, the movie automatically became a chick flick. I called bullpucky (To borrow a phrase from Rachel Maddow.) But it did make me start paying attention, and darn if they weren’t right.
My husband and I recently started watching The Mentalist. There are two great, smart, strong, feminine women in that show. Who never speak to each other. Seriously, watch it.
The Avengers? Yeah, it’s got Black Widow, and she rocks. She’s also surrounded by sausage.
Myth Busters? They only ever have one female squintern on at a time. One cute, quirky fem-fatale crashing the boy’s club.
The same holds true for books. If a girl is a Point of View character – it’s a girl book. Even the Matched series by Ally Condie which has one girl POV character and two boy POV characters is a hit primarily with… Girls. That one-third girl time is too much for teen boy readers apparently.
And why is that?
Now we get to the real answer – who needs feminism anyway?
It turns out, it’s not women. Don’t get me wrong, we still need it – for all the reasons listed above and more.
But the people who REALLY, REALLY need feminism… are men.
Because as long as pink and purple are the exclusive colors of girls, and as long as skirts and dresses are the exclusive attire of women, and as long as being sensitive and compassionate are the exclusive domain of the female sex… Men are missing out.
But how do you convince the patriarchy that it’s in their best interest to soften up? How do you convince them that by giving women equal rights, and equal access, they are not only not giving up anything, they are actually gaining a whole new level of awesome?
See, here in America feminism has gotten quite a bad rap. Feminists are man-hating, feminine hating, angry bitches. (Please tell that to my feminist husband, and father, and many, many other male feminist friends. Pretty please. It’ll go viral on YouTube, I promise!)
Feminists reject femininity in all its forms. We suffer from penis envy and wish to claim the male role as our own and subvert the natural order of things…
Except, see, we don’t. We aren’t.
We don’t hate men. We disagree with the power structure that gives the average man a head start, a cushier ride, and the power to make decisions that affect women, without actually consulting anyone with a vagina.
We don’t hate the feminine. We resent the idea that we are required to look, dress and act a certain way to please the men around us. I like playing dress up on special occasions. I just don’t think Mondays are a particularly special occasion…
Are we bitches? Some of us. Certainly. Just as some men are assholes. It happens.
I can’t speak for all feminists, but I know I don’t suffer from penis envy. Honestly, I don’t know how guys do it. Walk around with that dangling between their legs, I mean. Breasts are hard enough to handle and we have special equipment to help us with those!
I don’t think women are better than men. I also don’t think men are better than women. I think SOME women are better at SOME things than SOME men, and I think SOME men are better at SOME things than SOME women.
I DO think that ALL people – male, female, trans, gay, straight, questioning, black, brown, yellow, pink, red, white, whatever – should, in this land of the free and home of the brave, start life on equal legal footing.
I believe that we are ALL born with the same unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that truth to be self-evident. I also know that it is not self-fulfilling.
We, the people, must rise up to make this truth reality. We, the people, must speak out, write to our representatives, and stand with each other. We must not allow our human rights to be voted on, or to be denied state by state. Our rights are not a bargaining chip. We are not pawns to be sacrificed in the national game of political chicken.
We hold the vote. We have voices. We have power. It is time to use it.
Our grandmothers fought so that we could live better, safer, richer lives. Our mothers continued that fight.
We cannot turn our back on it now.
We must gather our allies and march on. For our daughters – and our sons. Our sons who deserve to be able to play with purple ovens and wear dresses and pigtails. And our daughters who don’t need special pens or feminized nerf toys to find fulfillment. Our sons who want to stay home to raise the kids and our daughters who want to walk on Mars.
Equality goes both ways. It’s all about giving our children choices – and chances – to live the American dream and pursue their happiness in freedom, knowing that their lives are protected under the law.