March 3, 2013
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“Feminism.” Often, too often, the word tends to evoke an image of hairy-legged lesbians burning their bras on a college campus, screaming lines from The Feminine Mystique at the top of their lungs. Yes, part of feminism was, at one point, bra-burning women who refused to subjugate themselves under the patriarchal rule of males in a society that never stopped to consider the double X chromosome members of its world as equals. Women fed up with the way the world works, and dying to change it.

What makes feminism a bad word? Why is it such, that in this backwards society, it is a crime for women to have sex but totally fine for men? I’ve been called s***, w****, skank, b**** more times than I can count. And for what? There is no crime in sex. There is no crime in believing in equality. Except for, of course, when it comes to gays and feminists.

My stepdad, notorious for saying whatever the hell he likes despite the audience -- and often, I am included in this audience -- has often said that his ex-wife was a feminist and that was a primary reason for his divorce with her.

“Goddamn, Gwen was such a feminist. She’d always say that cooking was a man’s job too, and she wouldn’t iron my shirts unless I did the laundry,” he said once in the car. My mother nodded in agreement, although I’m not sure if she’s agreeing with his ex-wife or him.

It seems as though she clings to him like he is her only hope in the universe. After her divorce with my dad, she floundered about without direction or conviction, regarding her boyfriends as caretakers. It’s really no surprise that this jackassery of my childhood has lead me to feel more independent, or at least attempt to be.

This society expects that women cannot get along on their own, that they need a man to guide them, be it a father, brother, husband, boyfriend. We are expected to be subordinate. Making 77 cents to a man’s dollar for the same work, confined to the home with children, expected to want said children, said home, said marriage. A woman who doesn’t want these things is a w****, a s***, whatever degrading sexual term foisted upon her.

The worst opponent to feminism, in many cases, is not men; rather, it is in other women, who see themselves as subordinate and any women who fight for the opposite should simply sit down, shut up, and close their legs.

The reactions against birth control are completely against the female sex. Had it been against any kind of sex, there would be more of a reaction against birth control methods used by men, such as condoms. Yet, condoms are easily found in any store and are generally about five dollars for a pack of ten. Birth control, morning-after pills, and other forms of contraception, however, are reasonably difficult to obtain.

How is it that a woman’s decision, a woman’s body, a woman’s life is in the hands of those very people who seek to control her? Why do women accept this as truth and so many of them refuse to fight back?

Feminism has been made into a dirty word. Synonymous to many people with lesbians and whining about things that don’t matter. I read an article in a magazine where a celebrity “confessed” to being a feminist. Not declared it with pride, not freely spoke of, but “confessed,” as if it’s a sin or transgression of which she should have been ashamed. I will never apologize for believing in equality. No one ever should. Equality is a human right, not a male, white, or heterosexual privilege.

My own mother, a woman herself who has been subjected to some pretty terrible patriarchy with her own father who left her when she was a little kid, yet controlled her mother for years and years after he left, believes that feminism is a moot point.

“There’s nothing left to fight for,” she told me one day as I said something, off-handedly, about some commercial I’d seen that was disgustingly sexist and absurdly anti-feminist.

She’s wrong. There’s everything left to fight for.

I see my female classmates either advertising their sexuality as if it’s the only thing they have to offer or shaming me or anyone else who decides that sexuality is a personal decision, not one dictated by any sort of religious dogma or over-controlling parents. My body is my decision. Every woman has the right to make her own decisions, choose the conditions of her life and her body. No other person, man or woman, has the right to control that. No other person has the right to take away people’s heart, being, mind, and body. People are people. Hearts are hearts.

It is our duty as humans in a free political system to speak our mind. Not to be afraid or hesitant, but to speak with conviction, speak with passion, and speak freely. Not to “confess” to being a feminist, but to believe in equality. Equality should be given to all members of the human species, not just a select few. We are 98% percent the same. Gay, straight, man, woman, black, white. Same DNA.

Fight for wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, and yourself. Women deserve the right to be strong on their own and not expected to be anything besides that. In 1920, when the 19th amendment was passed and women were granted the right to vote, everyone thought that women had finally gained male equality. On a level playing field, recognized as equally intelligent.

Almost 100 years have passed since that point. We have not become what we should be. Rape, spousal and relationship abuse, and female objectification are glamorized and posted all over the internet. Thank you to the feminists of the latter half of the 20th century, but I must apologize for the current state of affairs. Feminism is back to square one in many ways.

Open your eyes. Gender does not define a person. It is simply part of the whole package. My teeth, my toes, my eyelashes do not define me; they are part of who I am as a person. Why should my gender be an exception? I am not “female,” a letter F stamped across my forehead; I am a woman, I am strong, and I am as capable as any man to live according to my own terms.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Simone De Bouvior, famous women who have changed the way the world looks at women -- or at least, they tried to. How many people in my English class, my history class, my Spanish class would be able to point to the books or the movements associated with them? Women are every bit as integral to this country. Women are every bit as strong. We might have the vote. We might have legal equality. We might be able to wear pants now. But we are no where close to equal.

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lkk4209 said...
Nov. 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm
I like this article, and agree with a lot of it. I would identify as feminist, but I do not want to be associated with radical feminists, misandrists, trans-exclusionary feminists, et cetera, so I choose not to adopt that label. I suppose I could be called a gender egalitarian. I just wanted to talk about your point on birth control, which I don't really agree with. For one thing, it is not difficult to obtain a perscription for birth control medication; all you have to do is ask your doctor... (more »)
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