I’m just going to say it: Some Feminists really hate men.
Why pretend otherwise? It’s a completely open movement and anyone can join. There are women out there who honestly, truly, believe all men are violent, arrogant, rapists who are hell-bent on oppressing women at every turn. And these women have no reason, whatsoever, not to join the Feminist movement and rationalize their hateful rhetoric with Patriarchal conspiracies.
I’m not one of them, though I loosely consider myself a feminist. See, I think it’s quite possible that women have real issues that should be addressed that aren’t directly opposed to men in some kind of zero-sum game.
I’m not sure why it always has to involve a gender war. I’m not sure why every problem has to point fingers at some guilty party.
It’s quite possible that women have some handicaps that weren’t dreamt up in some organized way by a bunch of men having secret meetings about preserving the patriarchy. In fact, I get along with most men just fine (though particular Men’s Rights Advocates have been getting on my last nerve). Sure, some men are asshats, but so are some women.
For example, take the relative lack of women in math and science fields. Thing is, I was quite good at math and science while growing up, yet I never pursued any science major.
It wasn’t due to any sexist discrimination I faced. My science professors, from high school to college, were incredibly encouraging. My high school Physics teacher nearly cried when I wanted to drop his Honors class, saying I had a unique mind that would be bored if I challenged it less. He talked me out of it, and I eventually did very well.
My physical science teacher would research the strange questions I had when I was 15, like about whether a rocket going the speed of light would hit an object briefly placed in its direct path, given the time difference. Or why we couldn’t fix the ozone layer by fusing oxygen molecules together.
My college Physics professor kissed his fingers when he spoke of my “elegant” solutions before writing me recommendation letters. He wanted me to take on the major, and yet I did not. Though I probably should have, instead of jumping into English.
So, I can’t blame any of them. They really tried.
A few years ago, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s updated Cosmos came out. It was incredible. It left me hungering to become an astrophysicist, though that ship has probably sailed. In it, he mentioned all of these amazing women who made amazing scientific discoveries despite all of the opposition they faced.
And I couldn’t help wondering what difference it might’ve made if I’d have learned about these women while growing up.
They existed. He talked about them. They did amazing things. They were real.
When I was growing up, I barely ever learned about women who did anything important. Betsy Ross sewed a flag, Susan B. Anthony wanted women to vote, Florence Nightingale was a good nurse, and Pocahontas begged her dad not to kill John Smith.
But that’s about it.
American girls don’t even hear about women becoming queens or ever holding positions of leadership. They’re not even influential mistresses. We have no Joan of Arcs or Queen Elizabeths or even Duchesses of Windsor.
You’re left with the impression that women have never invented anything, never discovered anything, never built anything, or ever been involved in anything more than looking pretty while they sang a song or, at best, writing a story that someone found interesting.
And you don’t identify with people who are doing anything important. I didn’t believe I could go into Physics, even when my professors were telling me to. Women hardly ever did that, so they must be wrong.
Maybe we could start putting some of those brilliant female scientists Neil DeGrasse Tyson talked about into our textbooks, so little girls would understand that growing into someone who who does something important is possible.
We don’t have to push out all the white men who were brilliant, just add some women who also did brilliant things, so little girls will learn that it’s possible for them too.
And it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. It’s not an us-or-them reality, or some conspiracy on men’s part to keep us from getting any action… at least, not the men of today.
Our damaged sense of what we’re really capable of or of what we deserve. The legacy of a world that didn’t used to believe that we could do anything real that carries on through our imagery and lack of confidence. While we’re bound to run into individual jerks, we don’t really need their acceptance or approval or their permission to push ourselves to go as far as we can.
We need to believe in ourselves. We need to teach our daughters what other women once did and what they’ll do tomorrow. Not about how they’re still oppressed and incapable of changing it until they convince men to let them in the door.
And we can do it without making men the enemy.