(Initially, I started writing this without the intention of offending anyone. Towards the end though, I realized that it’s very possible I will, so I am saying now that I’m sorry if I do.)
I recently came across an question in the dooce community, about feminism. It’s taken me until today to answer for myself, though I was fairly certain of my initial response.
“First of all, I understand myself to be a feminist from the soles of my feet to the ends of my hair. To me feminism means the fight for equality, the fight against sexism, the understanding that imagining women to be less than men hurts everyone – women AND men. So, when I hear people say things like, “well, I’m not a feminist, but…” I am so confused. Do you really mean that you understand women to be inferior to men? Or is your understanding of feminism something else? I think that sometimes people tend to think of some weird, made-up man-hater when they think “feminist.” But that seems to retrograde and unrealistic – is this really what people think a feminist is? Still? Or is there some other reason why someone (particularly a woman, though men can be feminists, too) might claim to not be a feminist?”
It’s obviously a long winded approach to a simple question for women (or men): If you claim you aren’t a feminist, what do you actually mean?
I have friends who are much more passionate in this area, whereas the older I get, the less I would call myself a feminist. In my more ‘outspoken’ days, I would have run rampant on this topic, speaking my mind like an educated real world woman should. WOMEN SHOULD BE TREATED FAIRLY! WE AREN’T DAINTY LITTLE HOMEMAKERS! WHY IS PINK ASSOCIATED WITH THE ‘LESSER’ GENDER? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT IN THE OLD DAYS, PINK WAS A BOY COLOR AND BLUE WAS A GIRL COLOR???
And I get it. I understand the need for this movement, because even in 2012, women who enjoy beer and sports are considered “one of the boys” when they should just be considered for who they are. Men who like to shop and spend ten more minutes getting ready for a night out, they’re given the term “metrosexual”. Why do we need to label ourselves (and others) this way? We don’t, and I understand that. Little girls shouldn’t automatically be given dolls and pink dresses, but on the same token, little boys are dressed in overalls and given trucks. We start labeling from birth, and it continues until we die.
One community member had this to say:
“While I see your point, I myself find it hard to relate to the “feminism” movement in a lot ways (and I don’t like that feminism is stereotyped this way, but I do feel that it is).
While I do feel very strongly that I can do pretty much anything, and I sure as hell can take care of myself, I certainly am not opposed to allowing my husband to “support me”, at least in part.
I like it when he takes me out and pays (he’s got his own separate bank account, why not use it on me?), I like it when he swoops me up in his arms and carries me, I like it when he takes out the goddamn garbage and mows the lawn.
While I do think it’s great that women CAN work, I’m kind of sick of the idea that *I* MUST work.
My husband is a great guy – he sucks at cooking and cleaning. All the stuff that I do around the house because he won’t or isn’t good at is a full time job. But our feminist beliefs dictate that we are lesser people if we are just “housewives”.
I agree with the movement in general, I just am not on exactly the same path.”
I like this, because it’s where I am at. I don’t want to be considered “less” or an insult to my gender if I want to be a housewife. I don’t want to be ashamed to admit that I enjoy doing the laundry and cleaning, and even making sure my husband has dinner waiting for him when he gets off work. I feel, as a strong independent woman, I can choose my contribution to my household and society.
Another community member says this:
“I think being a feminist means that men and women are equal, and should have equal opportunities socially and professionally. I think it’s a stand for anti-sexism and gender equality.
I don’t think that feminists always do a good job explaining that. I also think that it’s problematic to focus on male privilege (which exists) and sexism without also looking holistically at the social structures. I also think it should include a look at assumptions that people make about men, which still puts men in a breadwinner/secondary parent role more often than not. I know a lot of awesome feminist men who would be happy to stay at home with the kids, but whose wives are not cool with that because it challenges their perceptions about who should be with the kids. Men shouldn’t be forced into a gender role that they don’t feel fits them either.
I tend to use the word “humanist” more than “feminist.”
People should be free to pursue their highest potential and be limited only by their own self-limitations, not racial, gender, sexuality, religious, etc. issues.”
My feeling is that some feminists (not all, but some), paint themselves extreme. Do I expect all women to be the ones who cook and clean? Hell no. Do I expect all little girls to be dressed all cutesy and given barbie dolls? Not even. However, the older me expects to be able to get my point across without having fingers pointed back at me. I’m not judging, please believe that, but I have found that some (not all, but some) of women who call themselves feminist are a bit abrasive, and are quick to label me as “confused”:
“When I call myself a feminist, it means that I refuse to deny my XX chromosomes. I’m a woman. Period.
If you’re fucking with me, it’s only because I want you there.
My guess is women, who say they aren’t feminists, are confused.”
Or this one
“I can’t say for sure, but I think many of the women who say they aren’t feminists just don’t think it’s important anymore to fight for women’s rights. In my experience, these are often the same people who think that racism isn’t really a thing anymore. Slavery is abolished and women can get jobs, so what’s the big deal?
Needless to say, I think these people have their heads stuck firmly up their asses and need a good hard reality check. I for one am rather tired of being told that I’m overreacting when I point out latent sexism and/or racism.”
It’s almost like religion in a way, because if you’re not “for”, you’re most certainly “against”, and we can’t have that right? APATHY IS UNACCEPTABLE!
I’m not sorry that I don’t consider myself a feminist. Just like I don’t consider myself a Christian. Do I love myself, the people around me, and try to promote peace and harmony? Absolutely, but that’s as far as I’m going, and I certainly don’t consider myself as living with “my head stuck firmly up my ass”. Do I believe this world is without inequality? No, but in a way, I am as bummed about loud women proclaiming they’re “feminists” as I am about Christians judging others in the name of God. Just because you can shout the loudest and recite all the bullet points, it doesn’t mean you’re right. Your passion doesn’t declare you the winner. In the name of humanity, can’t we all just get along?
I have yet to find a movement I can really get on board with, and if that makes me “less”, so be it.
If I ever have a little girl, she will have bows in her little tufts of baby hair. Because I’m a woman, because I can, and because it’s so damn adorable.