I’ve always considered myself a feminist. It surprises me that lately I seem to be in a minority.
We heard a while ago that Beyonce considers herself a “modern day feminist” (she said we needed a new word for it) and Taylor Swift really doesn’t even want you to suggest she’s a feminist. When I was making a list of celebrities who do identify as feminists it… kind of took a while.
I think when people who dislike feminism think of me, I am probably not the feminist crusader they would expect. I like having doors opened for me, and wearing feminine outfits and telling people how special they are in a weird whispery voice (that’s called being nurturing). And sex-angeling people. I am aware that I would probably have to go a pretty far way back in history (to about 1700) to get to a point where being a woman who liked wearing pretty things, and having sex with men when they’re sad, and had a source of income writing funny pieces for ladies would be a problem. Seriously, I think it would be about 1700 where my lifestyle would start to take a hit.
I am also aware that I am not every single woman in the world.
It’s awesome that I have the freedom to wear pretty dresses and be girly. I have never felt those things were really under attack. Mostly because they’re not. People are always fine with women doing traditionally feminine things. And it’s awesome that I can lead a life that makes me happy. It’s also awesome that women can run Fortune 500 companies and be doctors and astronauts if that makes them happy.
(A lot of the time I think I’d be happy as an astronaut, but then I remember how much I don’t really like high places.)
Feminists believe in allowing people the freedom to pursue their own ambitions, regardless of their gender, and to be compensated for their work in a way that is equal to their other co-workers.
And that is why I will always consider myself a feminist. Because I think every woman should have the same freedom a man does to pursue what makes them happy in life.
So it surprises me when other people feel differently. I talked to a few people, and they had the following explanations on why they don’t consider themselves feminists.
1) Feminists hate men.
No. It’s a shame that feminists are perceived as hating men, because they really just want the same opportunities men have had. And to be treated as though their work is as important as the work men are doing. Wanting parity with someone does not equal hating them.
2) I don’t believe in the culture of victimization that surrounds feminism.
It is great that you do not feel victimized! You are either very strong or very lucky. I don’t feel victimized, either! I have been lucky! But the fact remains that, in many aspects of life, women are victimized in ways men are not. It’s easy to see how that applies in countries far from our own (where girls are terrorized for trying to go to school, or women have their genitals mutilated). However, it’s also a problem very close to us. It’s problem when, after they have raped a woman, people still perceive young men as being victims because their futures have been threatened. Their futures were threatened because they were rapists. If you do not believe in the culture of victimization, don’t devote too much energy to worrying about cat calls or whether or not we should just slap someone in the face when they tell us to smile. That is stuff individuals can generally deal with. Worry that we’ve set up a culture where men get to be seen as victims when they were clearly deliberately hurtful agressors. That’s a culture of victimization that should not exist.
3) I want to dress cute and not burn my bra.
Worry about straps showing, I guess? Go crazy with that! I hope you can get paid slightly more money (women still make about 75 cents for every dollar a man makes) and then you can buy more clothing! I want you to have seven million cute outfits and bras in every shade of the rainbow!
4) The feminist movement looks down on naturally nurturing women like me – or “I really just want to get married and raise a family”.
Dude, so many people admire homemaker qualities in women. So many people. If you naturally possess those inclinations, many, many, many people will still desire and admire you. And you will probably be more coveted than ever because women who do not have that natural disposition will not be trying to make themselves look and act like you. Your own disposition will seem more unique and outstanding in a time when everyone is not trying to affect that persona. By “that time” I mean, “all of history, up until about 1970.”
5) Economically, the feminist movement has made it harder for women to stay at home.
This may be true, but staying at home and being a wife and mother is terrific until your husband walks out on you. Or is injured and no longer able to work. I think when people fantasize about this, they fantasize about being a 50’s housewife on that housewife’s best possible day. They do not think about being the same housewife after her husband has been laid off and her kids need to be fed and she needs to enter the work force with absolutely no recognized skills. So, they think more June Cleaver, less Mildred Pierce (the early part of Mildred Pierce, not the later parts). Being able to earn your own money is a good thing. Having skills that contribute to society is a good thing. It means that if your husband leaves you you will not starve to death. That means that you, likewise, have the freedom to leave him if you are unhappy. Those are all good things.
So. Those are most of the arguments I’ve heard. There. Those are settled. Now – providing you like the idea of a world where women get to work, and be paid fairly for their work – you can proudly call yourself a feminist! That’s great. Let’s go buy some cute sundresses to do that in.
Picture via WENN