To be or not to be.

(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.

The question:

“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.

5 comments

  1. Ok, my turn to question! (in the nice way you do, the sincerely curious way, which I state because sometimes its hard to hear sincerity during online discussions . . )

    What DO you want? You said, you are “as bummed about loud women proclaiming they’re ‘feminists’ as you are about Christians judging others in the name of God.” So you want quiet women? and quiet Christians? and presumably quiet men and quiet every-religious-person?

    Help me understand!

    1. Personally, the louder someone talks, the less I hear them. I have always found myself more interested in what someone has to say if their “facts” are seemingly void of a judgemental tone. I have always been turned off by people stating their opinions loudly, though I have been guilty of this myself in the past, and I certainly understand how passion can raise the volume. Loud doesn’t always mean volume though, because being in that forum, I wasn’t really expecting the self proclaimed “feminists” to be insulting those that didn’t share their opinions. I was getting the impression that, as a woman, I should be taking a bigger stand and since I wasn’t, I was somehow confused and didn’t care about the world around me.

      “My perception is that women who don’t want to identify as feminists in discussions are trying to say “I don’t care enough about this issue to be that vocal bitch you always hear about”.”

      I think maybe my issue on this subject is (and I didn’t have a real direction in writing this post, I just went for it) is the perception that feminists are loud and “too vocal”. So often that is true, and it bugs me, if only for the reason that I believe what the feminist movement is saying IS valid in some areas but those “in your face” tactics don’t work for me. I don’t like feeling alienated within a group who says they just want everyone to be equal. Just like I believe that Christians have some valid points, but the way they present them sometimes doesn’t work for me, and again, if I’m not “for then I must be “against” and I NEED TO BE SHOWN THE LIGHT.

      Someone also says this:
      “I wonder if it has something to do with the way I was raised? I dunno. I’m relatively apathetic about politics, too. And religion. I’m kinda just here on earth looking for harmonious relations with all people I come into contact with. Not that being a feminist should cause INharmonious behavior! But I have a feeling that in some cases, it would. You know what I mean?”

      I feel that if we want equality, we should give it. If we want love, we should give it. If we want understanding in our opinions, we should give it. Reading stuff like this is frustrating:

      “This has been popping up in my life a lot lately, for some reason. Young women saying, “Well, I’m not a feminist, but…” And I have to stop them. Really? You don’t think women should be able to vote? Or own property? Or be paid the same amount of money that men get paid for doing the same amount of work? You don’t think you should get to CHOOSE what you want to do with your life? “Well, I just want to be a stay-at-home-mom.” Well, fantastic. Being a feminist means you get to choose what will make you happy, whether it’s being a stay-at-home mom or being a CEO. It’s because of feminists that you have that choice.

      And then I punch ’em in the face because they are stupid.”

      I feel like I’ve gone off in many different directions responding to you:) Sorry, I don’t think I am making my point well enough, but you (luckily?) know ME well enough to get what I’m trying to say. Hopefully:)

      1. Ok . . . I’m hearing that. And I understand most it– lemme check that I’m hearing you correctly.

        You’re a little more traditional in some areas, don’t wanna be judged for it, and agree with the basic tenets of feminism (being equality, mostly), but feel that Feminism’s (with a capital F) “in crowd” is acting like the girls in the “Mean Girls” movie and that’s turning you off from the whole idea?

      2. Yeah, pretty much:) I also don’t understand how ‘traditional’ translates into me being stupid, but it somehow does in the eyes of some feminists, which is unsettling. I don’t like the idea that because I am not as vocal, I am riding the coattails of those that are, and I somehow need to be a ‘better’ woman.

  2. Just remember that some movements have vocal minorities (Feminism, religions, etc)– and a lot of the time, most people do not think the way the loudest people do.

    I do identify as a feminist, a humanist, and an atheist. And I like you lots, think you are very intelligent, compassionate, fun, and whole woman.

    (I would also argue that you are vocal– you do speak up– to the people who matter. We know where you stand. So what if the rest of the world/Internet doesn’t?)

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