I can’t be the only woman in America struggling with whether or not to call herself a “feminist.”
Deep in my heart, I know things still aren’t equal. I’ve heard my own points come out of a guy’s mouth a little while later and be taken more seriously.
I’ve had people demand proof that I was ever in the Army, because they thought I looked like I’d grown up taking ballet. They’re later skeptical that women really endured boot camp alongside men, since they assume we go to an easier, sillier boot camp where we run around playing soldier while the boys do all the heavy lifting.
I’ve seen comments threads, over and over, demanding that women close their legs instead of asking why we’re the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.
And I’ve seen the endless Men’s Rights Activist rants about how we should appreciate our privileged position of being incredibly powerful until age 22, when our sexual currency declines and men can trade in their garnered resources for child brides overseas. I see their worldview… we’re too slutty, yet too high and mighty to sleep with every nice guy. We should understand their biological drives to bed the youngest woman available, yet any concern on our part to secure a committed man with a decent job is not a biological drive to protect our offspring, but the mark of a gold-digger who doesn’t understand her true place as an ego-stroking sandwich-maker…
I hate the idea of not showing female solidarity, since women have had more than a few issues with it. The suffragettes had such a simple and logical plan: there are more women than men, so if women get the vote, we can create a more female-friendly world…
It made perfect sense, without accounting for how much women hate each other. We should be able to do whatever we want, if we were only on the same page. Minorities don’t have the numbers, but we do.
I hate the idea of not voting with my fellow women, and I know what life used to be like: women had no political power, weren’t allowed in many workplaces, couldn’t have a bank account or open credit cards… they had to stay faithful to men who might cheat on them and beat them, because otherwise they’d starve.
Many women fought long and hard to change these circumstances, and the last thing I want to do is disrespect them.
But now… the whole idea of feminism has changed into something else. Instead of trying for equal opportunity, it’s become synonymous with hating men. I don’t hate men at all. We actually get along quite well, most of the time.
Still, we’ve reached a point where only the most radical extremists still openly call themselves “feminists,” and by giving yourself that label, you become part of that group.
The other day, I was part of a weird discussion about whether feminists wear heels (I do). A guy said that he didn’t care whether women wore heels or not before a self-proclaimed feminist came unglued by the idea that he was dictating what women should wear.
At this point, I was torn between showing female solidarity and pointing out that she’s being ridiculous. I took his side, then felt bad about it while woman after woman came forth to talk about why feminists are crazy and how women should always be wearing the more attractive shoe designs, since men have to go off to war.
Ugh. What if I want equal opportunity, but don’t want to lock men out of the discussion by accusing them of “mansplaining” every time they make a point?
I’m thinking that maybe we should listen to those points without caring about anyone’s genitals. I mean, if another woman said it doesn’t matter whether women wear heels, no one would care.
But if someone said, “Women should never be allowed in math or science professions, because their brains aren’t capable of rational thought,” I’d be pissed. It wouldn’t matter whether a man or woman uttered it.
How did we reach this point? The point where you’re either denying that women and men are different at all, or you’re brushing up your sandwich skills?
Can we just admit that it’s okay to want to get married and have a baby and wear a dress sometimes, even if we shouldn’t be forced to?
Can we agree that there may be some general differences between the sexes, but they don’t apply to everyone?
Or maybe that liking lipgloss doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bad at geometry?
I’ve seen men so stupid that I knew I could intellectually mop the floor with them talk about how women should accept their relative idiocy with the compensating appeals of being a valued bedpost notch, and I’ve seen militant women so drunk on their dreams of victimization that they’ve uncovered oppression in harmless words… I don’t know what side to take anymore, or why there even have to be sides at all.
The problem with claiming we’re exactly the same, is that any evidence to the contrary undermines our argument.
And the problem with admitting we’re different, is that the separate-but-equal ideology never ends up being fair. Maybe invoking female roles beyond underaged, virginal fembots who fetch your shoes would make embracing our femininity seem more tempting.
I just wish we liked each other better.