I awoke the other morning at around eight and my pulse rate instantly spiked. No, I wasn’t having sex, nor had I just awakened from a night terror, I’d simply flicked on the Today Show. My pulse usually languishes for about an hour or so because I never seem to be able to drag my ass to the gym before ten. This is my usual morning ritual, where I assess the state of affairs and decide if the world is still worthy of my entrance onto its stage.
What had produced this sudden pounding in my chest? A report on the new Anti-Feminism movement that originated with a Tumblr post (#Anti-Feminism) that went viral last month. Hundreds of women posted photos of themselves holding hand-written signs stating why they oppose feminism. Signs like: I DON’T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE I AM NOT A VICTIM, I DON’T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE EGALITARIANISM IS BETTER, I DON’T NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE MY SELF-WORTH IS NOT DIRECTLY TIED TO MY VICTIM COMPLEX.” Or these:“because I like it when men compliment my body” and “… because I like Christian Grey in 50 Shades. Smiley face.” ‘…because I like to be looked at,’ ‘…because I like men,’ or ‘…because I have equal rights.’ Others went on to state that they wanted men to hold a door for them, they loved wearing lipstick and heels, they liked waiting on their man…they loved men!
I couldn’t breathe.
I don’t know where to begin. First I got hysterical, then I got historical. As a mature woman of a certain age, I remember the days when working outside the home was frowned upon and going to college meant one of two things: you became a teacher or a nurse. My dad constantly brain washed me: Be a teacher. You’ll have summers off and you’re home whenever your kids are. Something about that never felt quite right. I hadn’t thought much about marriage or family at the tender age of sixteen. Honestly, I was the oldest of five and had already fed, diapered, bathed, strolled, disciplined, read to, and cared for more babies/children than I could stand. I went off to college as a pre-med major and happily ignored my father’s career advice.
The first week of college I met with my assigned advisor, a botany professor. I entered his disheveled office lined with more books than I could count. He sat behind his desk piled with stacks of papers, puffing on a pipe, his impressive mustache a perfect match for Nick Offerman. He offered me a seat and I quickly realized he had my high school transcript in his hand. “Girls don’t get As in physics,” he blurted out. What would be the appropriate response to such a statement? I don’t think I gave one. As soon as he realized I was a pre-med major he handed me off to another advisor. My new advisor’s assessment of my career aspirations: “Be a nurse,” he said, “as a girl you’d have to get a 4.0 every semester and you’d still only have a one-in-ten chance of getting into med school.” That took the wind out of my sails. Seriously. It did.
Now don’t misunderstand me. I actually did wind up becoming a bio/chem teacher and eventually an assistant principal, but the feminist movement afforded me the opportunity to break through the glass ceiling and become the first female administrator in a large suburban school district. And it wasn’t easy. Learning how to survive in the “good ol’ boys” network provided some serious challenges.
Being a feminist doesn’t mean we have to wear a conical bra like Madonna, or no bra at all. I unabashedly admit to my braless years, and it was symbolic, and just happened to come along at the point in my life when my breasts were, well, I’ll just come out and say it: They were real and they were spectacular.
Does the new millennium woman understand that the equality she enjoys today is a direct result of the doors we forced open in the 60s? That if it wasn’t for the generations before her she wouldn’t be able to go the places she can now? Do these women really believe that feminism encourages the demonization of men? Do they believe that stating you are a feminist is a negative statement? If so, then they’re missing the point. If you look up the definition of feminism you’ll find statements like: The movement for social, political and economic equality of men and women. Or, The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes. Seems like that says it all. There’s no mention of lipstick, clothing, or hating men. Stick to the facts, ladies. This is all about choice.
The choice to be whomever you want, confident that barriers have been torn down and the doors to a world of choice are open to all women. When did being a feminist make us man haters, or lipstick haters, or unable to cook? In my mind, the definition of feminism couldn’t be simpler: We’re all equal! Even men! Equality is a balance between males and females and it liberates the individual.
Do these women need to be reminded about the girls kidnapped from their school in Nigeria and sold as wives? Or, Jihadists in Northern Iraq who force female genital mutilation onto millions of girls and women so they will never experience pleasure? One sign particularly irked me: “I don’t need feminism because I believe all people are equal and I’m a woman and I’m not oppressed.” Well, duh! I say, “You’re welcome!” to that statement.
I guess I’m saddened by the lack of knowledge of what feminism really is: “A collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending a state of equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women.” (Wikipedia) Though feminism might mean different things to different people, it is fundamentally based on the principle of equality for women. Wear lipstick or not, stay at home and be a full time mom or not, mow the lawn and let your husband do the laundry, don’t have a husband. Who cares? Go wherever your brains and heart take you. You’re free to be…you.
People are confusing the issues.