Monday, December 2, 2013

coming to terms with feminism

I don't consider myself to be a feminist. I mean, yeah, I care about my reproductive rights and being able to get a job and stuff, but only in the past few years have I started to listen and learn about feminism. I fully admit that I still have a lot to learn and really think about. After quietly watching from the sidelines, here are the opinions I've developed towards feminism:

1. There is a HUGE divide in opinions on sex and sexuality and it doesn't make sense. For example: A woman dressed provocatively can be seen as degrading to some women. Others will say it's empowering. There are strong arguments for both opinions. Long story short: a woman can never please everyone. See Miley Cyrus.

2. True feminism isn't just about getting women out of the kitchen and into the workplace. It's about having the right to choose to have a career, a family, or both. There is nothing wrong with a woman wanting a career over a baby, just as there is nothing wrong with a woman wanting a baby over a career. Both are decisions that should be respected by men and women alike.

3. If a man holds a door open for a woman, and she responds with something along the lines of "I can open the door myself!"she has the wrong idea. I apologize to all of the men in the world who committed an act of politeness towards a woman to only be scolded in the name of feminism. That isn't fair. I mean, let's get real for a minute. Holding a door open for another person is something we should all be doing regardless of gender, age, or race. It's not a chivalrous crime, it's just a goddamn nice thing to do.

Again, if I may reiterate, I do not call myself a feminist. I care about feminist issues, as all women should, but I consider myself to be an advocate of respect and common sense as I see it. I don't want to spout off a list of contradictory rules and make the men in my life follow them. Look, I see the positive strides that these women are making, and I definitely appreciate and am grateful for them, but I feel like we (as in, every woman in the world) need to have a conference where we can sit down and hash out the rules we're setting up and the standards to which they will be followed. How can we expect men to treat us the way we want them to, when the way we want to be treated is so convoluted and confusing that even women have a hard time understanding it? I don't know how many times I've seen or heard a woman put down feminism, saying that feminists are crazy men-hating women and in some cases, have suggested that these women get gender reassignment surgery, since they want to be equal to men and everything. I'm sorry, but I just can't fully get on board with a movement while we're all on different pages here. I truly believe that as a collective gender, we are smart and strong enough to establish equality, but until we all agree on how to go about the fight for equality, it's going to be a one-step-forward, two-steps-back process. 

So for now, I choose to live somewhere between both worlds. In this place I can identify myself as a strong minded woman, where I can expect to pay my portion of the tab when I'm on a dinner date with a man and be pleasantly surprised when he picks up the whole bill. This heavy bag I'm carrying through the airport? I can manage it, but it's sweet of you to ask. Any future daughter of mine can wear pink because maybe that's just her favourite colour, and she can wear it without feeling like she's doing a disservice to her gender. She's allowed to play with Barbies, Lego, and Hot Wheels because those toys are awesome and appeal to her. I don't want her to grow up believing that her only purpose in life is to become a doctor or lawyer or engineer or stay-at-home-mom or working mother. I want her to grow up believing that she should explore every opportunity that is given to her and do the work that makes her happy. She wears clothes that she's comfortable and confident in. She doesn't feel like she has to wear something she feels insecure in because she was told that it would attract men, because she doesn't believe that she needs a man to make her life complete, but if she finds one that does, that's great too. I look forward to meeting him. I would hope for the exact same things for my son-in-law.

I understand that I've probably opened a giant can of worms here, and that a lot of people will probably disagree with my opinion or try to point out some hypocrisy in it, but there you have it. The cool thing about opinions is that they can change over time. Maybe us women will figure it all out one day and will stop making each other feel guilty about our life choices.


  1. I was talking with someone about this recently (I've almost always recently had a conversation about feminism), because I don't understand why we try to put feminism in a box. The most common reason I hear for people not identifying with (or hating, in most cases) feminism is because they see it as women hating men, or women bloviating about issues that don't seem significant or women bloviating about issues that are real and significant but are "human" and not "women's" issues, and should therefore not be associated with feminism.

    I see feminism as a movement which strives for equality and understanding for everyone. I have been denied my feminist title by some for this, and instead declared a humanist, but I get to call myself whatever I want. I don't think it's about women hating men or dictating to men. There are gender related pressures on men as well that are starting to come to the forefront more and more in feminist circles.

    I wanted to respond to this and I don't feel like I was very clear (and I do feel like I wrote a lot, so sorry :S). It's just such a huge umbrella term and it's been around for so long there are many people who identify as feminist (both men and women) who have conflicting views, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I do think it needs to be taken into consideration. I guess what I'm trying to say is there is more than one way to be a feminist, and you don't have to dawn the term if you don't want to, but just because you don't agree with some peoples' definition of that word, doesn't mean you can't make your own.