FEMINISM. A word that has been used to change laws, change minds and change lives. What does feminism mean to me? If I’m honest, feminism has never really been a word that I have felt an association with. Yes, I LOVE being a woman, I LOVE women and I am always blown away by the strength and power of the female gender. But still feminism has never seemed MINE. The word feels abrasive to me. Violent and confrontational. Male. When I think of feminism I think of women in trousers, fighting for the right to sit at the ‘Big Boys Table’ and be respected as such. I think of women burning bras and encouraging one other to get out of the kitchen and into the work place. And though I am forever grateful that I can openly wear my skinny jeans and leggings without reprimand, and more importantly receive an equally incredible education to my male counterparts, I see a GRAVE flaw in the mentality that I believe is deeply engrained in the feminist psyche.
The psyche in question is that women can do everything men can do and should be given equal opportunity to do so. On the surface, that seems like a great and reasonable sentiment. I definitely believe there is very little men can do that we as women cannot do (or do better (wink*). But stop and consider what we are saying about what women do. What are we saying about traditionally FEMALE roles? By pushing for women to enter and be treated equally in male roles and by making that a driving force of the movement, we are implying that traditionally male roles are somehow more POWERFUL and ESSENTIAL than female roles. That traditionally male positions in society are the ones that should be coveted. This to me is a spit in the face of women and is in my view UNFEMINIST.
Feminism should not largely be about women occupying traditionally male roles. At its core, the feminist movement should be about pushing for the acknowledgement and respect of traditionally female roles. A stay at home mother who takes care of her children, home and husband should be given the same reverence as a CEO of a Top 40 Company. After all, behind that CEO is a woman who birthed him, a woman who raised him, and as is mostly the case, a woman who supports him and raises his children. We idolize these successes in the traditionally male arena, forgetting and not acknowledging the women that allow for these successes to materialize. PROBLEM!!
What is also a worrying trend for me is the disparity between the feminist successes in legislation and the feminist failures in society. Yes, the gender pay gap may be slowly decreasing, and there may be more supportive legislation for women who want to have both a family and career. But at the same time, women have never been more objectified, disrespected and sexualized than they are today. Women are no longer just women, we are ladies, THOTs, pretty-young-things, bitches, bad-bitches, tricks, mamis, dime pieces; need I go on. We hear women calling themselves their man’s ‘bitch’ almost daily. Can we just take a second to appreciate that we call ourselves our men’s DOGS: like literally, we call ourselves their ANIMALS. Funny how I never hear men calling themselves our cats, handbags, side-pieces etc. PROBLEM!!!
More so, the disregard and stigma associated with traditionally female roles continue and is becoming engrained in the psyche of young women. I remember being in my senior year of high school, and sitting around with a group of my girlfriends as we went around the circle saying what we all wanted to be when we grew up. Pretty much all of us were going to college and wanted to be doctors, lawyers, professors, business owners etc. Then one of the girls in the group says, and without any embarrassment, ‘I want to be a stay at home mum.’ Silence. Uncomfortable silence. What do you mean ‘a stay at home mum’? You must mean that you want to run a business from home right? Get this! The idea of a woman raising her kids and being a wife seemed dirty and unworthy to a circle of WOMEN. Are you seeing the problem? We live in a world that celebrates and encourages traditionally male roles above all else to the point where even YOUNG GIRLS think traditionally female roles are somewhat lesser. PROBLEM!!!
Furthermore, this controversy that has been going on recently about women breast-feeding in public, shows EVEN MORE clearly, how bad the situation is. Women are allowed to walk around with see-through tops and their boobs popping out *cough* Kardashians *cough* when it is for the sexual gratification of men, but when a woman’s nakedness is not for sexual gratification (i.e. FEEDING HER CHILD or BIRTHING her child for that matter) her nakedness is suddenly offensive. In THOSE situations, her nakedness SHOULD be private. PROBLEM!!!!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not discrediting the feminists who are pushing for the equal treatment of women in the work place or in other male-centered arenas. The point of this piece is to invite you to discuss what I believe is an evident flaw in the pillars of feminism that needs to be addressed and corrected in order to create a truly feminist or gender equal society. I therefore wish to give you the floor. What are your thoughts? Agree, disagree, add points, whatever you want to do. But let’s keep it positive and respectful. We are here to learn from each other, not bash each other. Differences of opinion are invited and encouraged.
Until Next Time,
The Hesitant Feminist