Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Does Feminism Mean to You?

So, what does modern day feminism mean to you?

Obviously feminism advocates equal rights and opportunities for women. Some say we have accomplished those goals, some say they have yet to be accomplished.

I think they have yet to be accomplished. Women still make less money than men doing the same damn jobs, and the social pressure to be feminine is still there.

However, there's one aspect of feminism that makes the waters kind of muddy. And that is the exaltation of "masculine" over "feminine." In the past, feminism has made it clear that girls can be masculine and should be allowed to without social pressures. OK, as a woman who has more "masculine" tendencies than "feminine" ones, I'm down with that. I kick ass, I belch, I wear jeans and black t-shirts, etc... in a lot of ways I'm what feminists would call an "empowered woman." However, is masculinity really more desireable than femininity? Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I wonder. This has never been a problem for me before, but it is now. I feel like if the general public applauds my decision to focus on childrearing as a career, they are being chauvanistic. Why is that? Staying at home with my child is a perfectly feminist move for me, because it's the kind of job that makes me feel empowered and independent. However this is considered "feminine" and therefore "inferior" in the eyes of society.

What I mean by that is, girls who are "one of the guys" are often admired, while girls who are "one of the girls" are not. Girls who are ambitious or leaders are admired, while girls in a supportive role are not. And what about guys? Macho guys are still admired, but if a guy wants to do cheerleading or stay home with the kids, he is often ostracized for it. That's because masculinity is still exalted in society.

The next step in feminism, in my opinion, is the equaling out of both masculinity and femininity. And this cannot be accomplished by women alone. Guys also need to stand up for their right to do whatever interests them, whether or not it makes a lot of money or is traditionally "masculine." The gay movement is actually helping us accomplish this, because it's slowly becoming more acceptable for guys to act "girly" and for girls to act "butch."

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I think kicking ass, belching and wearing black t-shirts is still feminism -- as well as staying at home with a child.

    The idea of the movement, as I like to think about it is freedom and equality -- I know not everyone will agree. That freedom means you should be able to wear what you want, act how you want and be treated equally. You should be able to have a career and get paid the same, or stay at home and be valued for that work and its accomplishments.

    Their in lies some problems. Women are not valued. They're not valued as much in the workplace. Work in the home isn't valued, whether that work in the home is done by women or men. I know men that are stay at home dads because their wives will out earn them. I applaud it. But the work at home is real work. It should also be valued in the same way. If we went and hired house cleaning people, cooks, gardeners, drivers and personal assistants, we'd only begin to see how much value that role plays. Now add in nanny, day care, etc and you'd see how much that job should be worth. Only we don't value it as such. Many marital problems exist in dividing up this large amount of work. Even one one has a full-time workplace job and the other doesn't. If only the home were also considered a workplace.

    I think there are many levels here, the masculine and feminine gender role models, the culture social stereotypes, workplace situations, freedom of expression and general personality. They all come together, blend into each others territory, but are not always the same thing.

    To me, I hope the feminism movement ends with women being able to choose their own path, whatever that path may be, and not have the movement push them into a certain stereotype of what a free and empowered woman is. It's about freedom. Freedom to be a CEO, construction worker, submarine captain, stay at home mom, cheerleader or beauty queen. It's about freedom and seeing value of yourself as an individual, equality with everything else.

    In that sense, the GLBT movement strives for that same equality, values and freedom.