Still Roaring After All These Years...

Go Beyonce! Go Kelly! Go Samantha Bee! We are women - hear us roar. Literally!!!

You don't know me from Eve, but I am now and always have been a member of the feminist party. That's not to say I don't like men, some of my best friends are men, even my husband, and I don't make this pronouncement to be arrogant or "uppity." It's just who I am.

Recently I was on the treadmill (the fitness kind, not the one we're on every day), off in my own zone, listening to "Lemonade" through my ear buds, while leafing through the latest "New Yorker," when a woman I knew jumped onto the adjoining treadmill. She's one of those women who, when asked "Hi, how are you?" actually tells you--- non-stop. As she warmed up by walking faster than I run at top speed, she plunged into a rant about presidential candidates and other politicians who dismiss and belittle women who are in office or running for office (Elizabeth Warren needs to be neutered?!?!?). How politicians are taking away women's healthcare and refusing women equal pay for equal work. She picked up her speed and began to run as she segued into her incredible story of survival in a corporate world of sexual harassment and gender backbiting (without the slightest strain in her breathing, thank you very much).

When she finished a half-hour later, her voice rose up, "THIS IS 2016!!!" she yelled. "What's wrong with these men?" I was awestruck.

In support, I called her a true "feminist" naively assuming she would take it as the compliment I meant it to be. Instead, she nearly leaped off the treadmill as she emphatically stated for the whole gym to hear, "I'M NOT A FEMINIST!"

I was so stunned by her reaction, I started to jog.

As my shock wore off and I returned to my more reasonable pace, I asked her why. Her answer was simple: "I don't want to alienate anybody." For the second time in my life, mere moments apart, I had an overwhelming urge to become a sprinter. I couldn't believe what she was saying! After all the suppressed anger she'd just unleashed she was ready to demur once again? I mean really, who could she possibly be afraid of alienating? The men who didn't want to hire, promote or pay her equally because she had "X" chromosomes? The politicians who continually trash women publicly, whether it's Carly's face or Hillary's pant suits? The men who judge women by their weight, their boobs, their faces? Not likely.

Beyonce's angry. Kelly's angry. Samantha Bee's angry. I'm angry. My treadmill friend is angry. Hell, many women are angry! So what is it about that word "feminist" that triggered such a response --- that makes too many of us cringe when we're accused of being one, as if it were the ultimate insult? Why has "feminism" become the other "F" word? The mostly male media's years of portraying feminists (f/k/a "women's libbers") as bossy, man hating mantises? No doubt. The growing backlash against independent women who keep moving up the corporate ranks? Most probably. But, maybe... just maybe, openly feminist females, like myself, are partially to blame. Maybe, just maybe, in our enthusiasm for equality and to be taken seriously, we forget our common sense and lose our sense of humor.

Before I married, I dated a guy I cared about, but he wasn't willing to make a commitment... or is that redundant? He insisted on the option of dating other women. Saturday nights were mine, but the rest of the week was open to interpretation. I was young and foolish, so I agreed. After dating for about six months, he inquired (I use "inquire" because he did... he was an attorney) why he always paid for our theater tickets, dinners, whatever. As a self-proclaimed "feminist," didn't I want to pay my fair share? I told him no (I was a feminist, not a fool), and explained that feminism had nothing to do with who paid for dinner. Why should I pick up a tab for someone who wanted to use the money he saved on me to wine and dine the first bimbo who said yes to him on Tuesday? Made sense to me. Okay, maybe she wasn't a bimbo, but you get the point.

I really couldn't blame him --- we had confused the poor guy, and ultimately alienated ourselves, with all that 50/50 rhetoric. Nothing in life is 50/50.

So maybe it's time to soften our image --- to put a new spin on things --- to put "feminine" back into feminist. No, I'm not talking crinolines and ruffles (though black lace garters have their uses) or lowering our voices if we're angry (I couldn't, even if I wanted to)... But, if a man wants to open a door for us --- hey, why strain? And, if some swain (don't you just love that word?) wants to lay his coat over a puddle so your feet stay dry, smile first...

... then STEP ON IT!!!