My Take on Feminism
I consider myself a feminist. I believe that men and women should be paid the same for doing the same work. I believe that a woman should be valued for her character and intelligence than for her looks. I believe that a woman should have a choice between having a career and staying home to raise a family and not be demonized or put down for that choice. I believe it is the woman’s right to choose whether or not she keeps a baby, gives the baby up for adoption, or terminates the pregnancy. Most of all, I believe that a woman should be treated with dignity and respect.
There are two things about feminism that trouble me. One is this seeming need of women to cut each other down for the choices we make and demonizing women who choose traditionally female pursuits. The other is this notion that all men are scum and we must demonize them.
When I was a younger and angrier woman, I did believe that all men were scummy jerks who either wanted to control me or get into my pants. I came to this conclusion because of the kind of father I had. My ex-husband was like this, too. (See, there is truth to you marry your father). So all I had for an example of what men were supposed to be like was the scummy and controlling jerk. When I was younger, I was uncomfortable having male teachers and male bosses. Gradually, I got past that, but that was because I got to know other guys and learned that they were not all like that. It also required that I let go of past hurts and let go of the anger I held.
The problem with this mindset, I have come to see, is that is unfair. While yes, there are scummy control freaks out there, it is grossly unfair to paint all men with the same brush. As a result, it puts men on the defensive and when they feel they have to defend themselves, they’re not going to listen to what you have to say.
Another problem I’ve seen with this mindset is that it reduces men to a stereotype and diminishes their role. And when this is done, it pits one side against the other. But worst of all, we are doing to them what we say men have done to us.
Life is about balance. We’re always trying to seek balance in our lives, but our culture does not adequately teach us how to do this. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, life is a delicate balance between the two powerful and opposite forces of yin and yang. When this balance is upset, it interrupts the flow of qi, or life energy. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that this is what causes illness and in order to cure the illness, balance has to be restored.
I believe that men and women need each other in order to maintain a sense of balance. One of us is yin and the other is yang. I am not saying that we need to have relationships with each other, but rather we need each other in grand scheme of things. The opposite of woman is man. We are not the same, but we complement each other. There are things that women are better at than men and there are things that men are better at than women. This is something that I believe that some feminists need to acknowledge because we are not men.
We have to stop fighting each other and learn to get along. When one or the other has too much power, it upsets this balance. Those of us who are reasonable people need to do our due diligence to maintain this balance and keep those who wish to upset it from doing just that. I have no interest in being like a man. I'm quite happy being female, thank you very much.
Just as men and women are yin and yang, certain types of women are also yin and yang. Some women feel their life’s purpose is to go out and conquer the world. Other women feel their life’s purpose is to raise the next generation of adults. And there is nothing wrong with either. What is wrong is putting someone else down because their purpose in life is different than yours. Until we can learn to respect each other and the choices we make, we will never win the fight. We’re in this together.
I am of the Title IX generation. I can still remember a time when girls were not allowed to play in Little League. There were a lot of “firsts” as far as women were concerned during my childhood. First woman race car driver. First woman in space. I remember the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment. I was always told growing up that I would have choices. I could be whatever I wanted to be because these women fighting for this amendment were fighting so I could have the right to make a choice and also to not be discriminated against. In reality, I don’t have a choice. What went unspoken were two things. The first was that I was expected to have a career. The second was that I was more valuable as a woman the more I acted like a man. But now with the rise of the “raunch” culture, a woman is more valuable the more she looks and acts like a porn star.
Until we women can maintain this interpersonal balance between each other and with men, we will never achieve equality. Our biggest threat is not men. It is us.
You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can't take Wisconsin out of the girl.