Thursday, November 14, 2013

Feminism, and why I hate that word

Coco Chanel

Feminism: the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

This is something I've never really written about here...or anywhere.
The word itself, along with it's meaning, either literal or inferred, can be polarizing.
I myself have struggled for years over whether or not I like to be identified as a feminist, or a not-feminist.
To say I am not a feminist, feels like I'm saying that all women should promptly be impregnated and robbed of their shoes.
To say I am one, makes me fear that people will see me one of those buzz cut zealots who glare at men that open the door for them, and look down on stay at home mothers.
I know both fears are wrong in their own way.
I know those zealots exist, but really, they're more just mean, hiding behind the name feminist.
And I know that not 100% identifying with a belief doesn't make you 100% against it.
Still, I struggle.

Kate from Motley Mama wrote about how it's hard to call herself a Christian because of all the negativity that some churches have brought on themselves by being judgmental, hypocritical, mean.
How it makes young people cringe to see people do awful things, and call it religion, and then still stand up and say "yes, I am a Christian, no I am not like that". 

Mainly, I think, because nobody hears the last part, the "I'm not like that" part.

Today I read a blog by a young girl-younger than me-who is married, popular, pretty, and religious.
I won't go as far as to mention her religion, because it doesn't matter. She is of the Christian faith, and which branch of that is irrelevant.
She wrote about equality between the sexes, and how much it confuses her that some women still fight for equality, not just in the home, but in the gospel.
She stated that women fighting to be equal in the priesthood confuses her, because she doesn't need that kind of power and responsibility right now....effectively saying if she doesn't need it, why should any other woman?
I am not religious, I am spiritual, so I won't go too close to the ministry equality subject, but I was raised Catholic, so I will say this: I grew up with smart, intelligent, amazing women. Women who were strong, passionate in their faith, and unimaginably articulate. Women are not allowed to be priests in the Catholic church. I knew several who wanted desperately to be able to lead, to speak, to teach, the same way a priest does. They were offered other roles, other jobs, lesser positions, and told to be "grateful to still have the chance to serve". It was sad and unfortunate that no one got to benefit from their wisdom and their passion the same way they would have if they had the chance to lead a church. 

Moving on....

I don't know that I would call myself a feminist, but articles like this make me so mad, and then, so unbelievably sad.
Especially when it comes from young girls. Popular girls. Girls that littler girls look up to. Girls who will someday soon be raising the next generation of girls.
I don't believe that all women should be out there working full time, right along side the men, doing the dirty work men do, and never have to learn how to cook or clean, or mend a shirt. I'm saying the ones that want to should be able to.
I don't believe either that every woman should be shackled to the kitchen sink and forced to raise babies and make meals and darn socks. I'm saying that the ones who want to, should be able to.
See where I'm going with this?
I believe that as a society we should be past the point of what someone should or shouldn't do, based on their gender. We should be beyond the black and white of man do this, woman do that, rawr rawr rawr.

A man that works full time to provide for his family, should not be more highly praised than the woman who is staying home, raising his children, running his life, and cooking his meals so he can go out and work, knowing everything else is taken care of.
On the same hand, a woman who works full time should neither be praised nor judged, if she's doing the bread winning while her husband stays home to take care of the kids.
Because where does that leave the other families?
The families where both parents work? Should one of them still be let off the hook with housework and child rearing, and held in higher regard because of their gender?
And what about the families with one parent, where one person is doing all of those things, while the other parent has escaped responsibility altogether?
If the woman is left behind, is it ok to say that's preferable because women are supposed to be the caretakers and nurturers?
Or if the man is left with the kids, is it alright to scorn the woman who left them more severely because a WOMAN walked out on her kids, and what kind of monster could do that, but had she been a man, it would've just been another sad story?

I believe that your gender has little to do with your amount of responsibility in a family.
Your gender does not make you a better parent/provider/meal maker or cleaner.
You do not have a "higher calling" to care for your home than your husband does, simply because you have a vagina.

This school of thinking comes from the same idea that girls wear pink and boys wear blue, and everything has a neat box to go into.


Let's all forget our genitalia for a minute, take some accountability in our own homes and families, and play to our strengths.

A woman is no more right to stay home than a man.
A man is no more well suited to bring home the bacon than a woman.

A family is a group of people who love each other, and they all have equal responsibility in making it work.

So do what you do best, and don't think that the kitchen is your highest calling, just because you were given an extra X chromosome.

You can do anything
Be anything
Achieve anything

Regardless of your gender.

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