June 12, 2015

I Understand Why You Don't Like Feminism


In case it wasn't obvious, blogging has not been my first priority lately. Actually, lately, it's ranked somewhere right above cleaning my refrigerator. (You can draw your own conclusions about the state of my kitchen.)

But the other day, Jordyn wrote this post about feminism which made me want to put other things aside, not wipe the strawberry stain from my fridge's bottom drawer, and blog. Because, as good writers often do, Jordyn made me think, and the thinking led to an opinion, and blogs are where the opinions go.

In her post, Jordyn asked, why does society expect women to stay home with children? Why does society expect men to earn the primary household income? Jordyn gave us her opinion clearly and tactfully. It was a great post.

So great, in fact, that it got me thinking. But my thought was: I understand why some people "don't get" feminism. And maybe even why they don't like it. Because actually, for a while, I didn't "get" feminism either. I, like many people, wasn't too into feminism because feminism seemed less about "gender equality" than it did about "gender neutrality."

And if that was the case, I was not waving the feminist flag.

Don't get me wrong: I think it's great that girls today are encouraged to play "Jurassic Park" instead of house if they're more into brachiosauruses than baby dolls. But there's no arguing that anti-gender, taken to the extreme, leads to a situation where anything gender-specific is removed entirely in fear that children might be encouraged to identify as a boy or a girl.

As feminism grows, it seems like the "anti-gender" trend does too. But while I agree that we shouldn't expect all girls to be "girly," ignoring the differences between men and women seems just as unproductive.

Because in my experience, women and men are different. We might actually be wired differently and in general, women might be more adept at certain things than men, but less at others.

And as a woman, I think that's sort of cool.

I absolutely don't think that Jordyn went here with her post, but I've come across a lot of "feminists" who think that the goal of feminism is to have the stay-at-home mom to stay-at-home dad ratio reach 1:1. And I can see why that might turn some people off to feminism.

But the 1:1 ratio isn't what feminism's about to me at all. I don't think feminism is about pretending gender differences don't exist; it's about valuing our different tendencies equally.

Although I'm a woman who majored in science, works in a law firm, and likes talking about the NBA Finals, I'll also tell you that I'm a woman who wants to have children, to raise those children myself, and who would like my husband to earn enough money so I have the freedom to cut the crusts off their sandwiches at lunch. And although that desire isn't specific to women, I'd argue that more women can probably identify with that desire than men... and some might say that because of that, I'm not really a feminist.

But I think that those people don't understand feminism how I understand it at all.

To me, feminism isn't saying that women are the same as men; it's saying that we're equal. Feminism isn't about women necessarily rejecting their biological dispositions to be "girly" or to be mothers; it's about not considering them less valuable because of it. It's about giving women the choice to be CEOs of big companies or big families, but deserving of the same respect either way.

The definition of feminism is "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities," not ignoring or rejecting femininity all together. If it was, I wouldn't like feminists either.

(And I also might've had time to clean my fridge tonight.)