Friday, 11 June 2010


Recently I have read many, many blog entries regarding feminism which has led me to spend time thinking about it. I have always considered myself a feminist. And I have never been able to understand why every woman (hell, every person) isn't one. Steve and I often have, well, lets call them discussions regarding the difference between feminism and equalitariamism. In my head there isn't one, men and women should be completely equal and that is the definition of the word 'feminism'. Steve claims the meaning has evolved to now mean that women should be superior to men. He believes they should be equal (see how we believe the same thing and yet are still able to argue about it? What a skill.), he also claims that men and women are treated equally by society. We are not. I can unequivocally say that.

Steve thinks that there are people out there that go the other way with feminism. That promote the idea that women are better than men. I agree that this occasionally happens and I agree that this is not good. But I also feel slightly smug as it has been the opposite of that for so long.

I have visited some websites where these issues have been discussed (and discussed and discussed) and we suddenly get to the crux of the issue. Women dislike women.

You see, many women have spoken up in defense of patriarchy on these websites, and they've been ripped to shreds. That, to me, is paradoxical and counterproductive. Of all the horrid stereotypes and images that jump to mind when we hear the word 'feminist' (bra-burners, baby-killers, man-haters, shrews, whatever), I hope that what we focus on is the feminist ideal that women should be able to choose for themselves what to believe and what to do with their lives. They shouldn't have to stay home with babies if they don't want to; they shouldn't have to wear skirts and bake if they don't want to.

They should be able to get master's degrees and PhDs and top-of-the-ladder corporate jobs if they want to (and be paid just as much as their male counterparts). They should be able to be the money-makers in their households, and NOT the cooks, if they want to. I mean, honestly.

But therein lies the problem. What about the women who want to stay home with babies, want to wear skirts and bake? What about the women who don't want to get PhDs and corporate jobs?

I know a woman who has made some decisions along these lines, what about her? She wants to put off her own education and work at a job she doesn't really enjoy in order to put her husband through a law degree, because she wants him to be the primary breadwinner and acknowledges that, therefore, his education is more important than hers? A woman who is perfectly happy with the patriarchal order, who has gone on her own journey of discovery and decided that she's just fine with things the way they are?

Shouldn't she be able to choose THOSE things, if she wants them, without inviting ridicule from the women who consider themselves more enlightened and empowered than she is?

Why do we sometimes now go the other way? Scorn the woman who decides to marry at ridiculously young age. Scorn the woman that ultimately wants to be a housewife. Scorn the woman that doesn't want to be the MD of a company. Why do we judge each other in general?

Why can't feminism be about women who empower each other, REGARDLESS of the way they live the lives for which they've been empowered?

If you know a woman who's decided to put off starting her family because she loves to travel and study and work, be happy for her! She's doing what fulfills her. And if you can't be happy for her, at least mind your own damn business. Same holds true for the woman you know who is married and has 3 children at 22, because that's what she wants to do. Be happy for her, or mind your own business.

I know I'm not the first to feel this way. Can't we band together and form some sort of league to combat this hatefulness? We should be able to disagree with each other compassionately (perhaps I'll start calling myself a compassionate feminist). We should be operating out of love for each other and a desire to be our best selves - not out of bitterness and bossiness.

For centuries women have fought against men who wanted to deny them the pursuit of happiness, and now we are doing the same thing to each other. What's wrong with us?


Yvonne - Mad Hatter Bride said... sista! I've heard many a gal complain that men don't give up their seats or hold the door open any more, no wonder when they are probably worried about getting an earful! I would love to be a housewife, to cook, tend the garden and make a lovely home but as it happens I am the higher earner and that allows us a nice life we couldn't otherwise afford. I've worked my ass off making my way through a male dominated industry, but made to feel guilty for wanting a life that so many feminisits fought against. On the other hand it must have been awful to not have had the choice to work for a living or to vote or have respected opinions on anything other than fabrics, lace and hair arrangements.

Anonymous said...

I completely believe in choice and would never judge another woman for hers. I just wish people would extend that courtesy to me! I was halfway through my PhD (and working at the same time) when I realised that what I really wanted was to be a housewife. So now I am. I realise that I am extremely lucky to be in a position to be able do this, thanks largely to my husband's financial support. I just wish people - particularly other women - would stop judging me! Feminism is about CHOICE!