Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Weekly round table...feminism

We've decided to discuss the virtues, or lack thereof, of feminism.

First up is Morg...

My 9-year-old daughter has a dilemma. She isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. Lately she’s talked about being a biologist - a biologist who studies foxes. But she also likes to write, so she thinks she may be an author. Or possibly do both.

I can’t imagine looking down at those hopeful eyes and saying, “Darling, what are you talking about? Sure, you’re bright. But you’re a girl, and girls were meant to make and raise babies. That is all you should be thinking about. Now go pick up after your brothers. It’s good practice for how you’ll be spending the rest of your life.”

Not so many generations ago that was the message that many young girls got. If it wasn’t conveyed directly, it was conveyed through societal expectations, media and families that automatically funneled females towards a life of domesticity. Women who did pursue higher educations were directed towards traditionally female careers - secretaries, teachers or librarians. The common joke was that a woman women to college to pursue her MRS. Degree.

“Go through the motions of pursuing a career if you must,” society said. “But don’t forget your place.”

Then in 1963, a little book called "The Feminine Mystique" was published - a book that dared to ask the question in the back of so many homemaker’s minds: “Is this all?”

For a public raised on "Donna Reed" and "Leave it to Beaver," the question bordered on the heretical.

But then, women began to respond and soon it was clear that the answer to the question "Is this all?," was a thunderous "It can't be. It won't be. We won't let it."

That acknowledgement of that collective unrest spawned the feminist movement that subsequently threw open doors for future generations of women to choose paths beyond hearth and home. But like any dramatic social change, it also inspired debate.

So has feminism been good for America?

If you’re a member of the Religious Right, the answer is a resounding, “No,” yelled as you thump a Bible conveniently opened to the passage where it says women should be “keepers at home,” and conveniently not open to Proverbs 31, which describes what sounds a lot like many of today’s working mothers.

The right winger has one image of the feminist: a hairy, man-hating lesbian who ends each praying that the Goddess grant her another pregnancy to abort.

But that's only because they're bitter. Conservatives like for people to know their place, especially if those people stand to challenge them for a piece of the pie they consider theirs by God-given right. Just when they thought they had it all wrapped up, here come the women and the black folk, mucking it all up.

Let's face it. No one likes to lose their bitch. It's even worse when your bitch becomes your equal. It's twice as bad when she beats you out for that promotion or becomes your boss. Ouch. Personally, I don't think they'll ever get over it.

But ironically, the same right-wingers who rage against the “scourge” of feminism hypocritically enjoy its benefits every day. The stay-at-home mother who looks down her nose at her employed counterparts has nothing but praise for her child’s female pediatrician, and the conservative businessman who decries what feminism has done to society is all too happy when working women spend their money on his goods. And I doubt few churches who preach “traditional values” turn down the faithful tithes of its working, female members.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Don’t rail against what feminism has done to society and then turn around and enjoy its benefits. If you’re opposed to women working, then the only right thing to do is completely boycott women in the workplace. That means if you get T-boned at the intersection by an SUV, you should refuse aid if a female paramedic that shows up. If you’ve got a medical condition, make sure the drug you need to save your life wasn’t produced by a company that employs women. Don’t wear clothes designed by women. Don’t read books written by women. Don’t go to movies that feature female actors. Clean your own offices at work. Don’t eat at restaurants or shop at stores that hire women. The list goes on.

The primary argument against feminism is that it hurts children by robbing them of an at-home mother. But feminism didn’t pull unwilling mothers out of the home. The women’s rights movement simply opened opportunities beyond the home. This has led to varying dynamics. Some mothers went to work, either full or part time. Others stayed home. In some families, mom goes to work and dad stays home. In other cases, like mine, mom stays home but works.

The important thing to remember - the thing that critics of feminism would like you to forget - is this: The career opportunities women enjoy may mean more choices, but they are choices couples make together. And there are more than a few men who enjoy the higher standard of living that second income affords.

Do some women regret the choices they've made in the wake of feminism? Critics of feminism point at the angst of unmarried, childless women as evidence of feminism’s downside. There’s something to that. Indeed, some women, having put off childbearing to develop their careers, find themselves losing the race against the biological clock.

But is their fate any worse than the 50 percent of women whose “traditional” path to marriage and family ended up in divorce? I’d wager the childless, 45 year-old woman with a good career but who can't find a man to father her children is still better off than the single 45-year old woman who can’t find a man because she already has them. And let’s not forget that life isn’t always rosy for men, either. There are plenty of middle-aged guys saddled with regret. Regret often accompanies choices, but that doesn’t mean we should be denied them.

Which brings me back to my daughter, the fledgling writer/ biologist. A career isn’t all she wants. She also wants to be a Mommy, and she’s never asked me if she'll have to choose. Why? Because she’s grown up with a mother who fully enjoys balancing the rewarding demands of a family with the rewarding demands of a career. She's seen how both my work and my family make me happy. And how they make me whole.

As a woman, a mother and a feminist, I want nothing less for her., of feminism.

Now, Billy D...

Feminism. I hardly know where to begin. While I do think it probably had a useful purpose at some point, somewhere between the beginning and the pot of gold they originally sought, that whole scene kind of got turned into something resembling militant lesbianism 101.

I know many of you will vehemently disagree with what I’m writing, but, in my opinion, feminism has done far more harm for our society than good.

Yes, I know. Women can vote now, they’re in the workplace, they’re captains of industry… whatever. Look, let me try to explain myself.

Women should be home, procreating and raising children. Now, before anyone reads anything into that statement, let me explain. I do NOT mean barefoot and pregnant. What I do mean is, when the man is out at work, the woman runs the home. And I mean runs the home, not just vacuuming and baking cookies. I mean, schooling the kids, setting and maintaining a household budget, keeping the house clean, doing all those errands that need to get done during the day, while the man goes out and makes a living to pay for everything.

Now, before the rise of the wicked institution of feminism, this is pretty much how things were. But now, women need that extra-curricular “fulfillment”. Why the quotes? Look, if your job gives you the fulfillment you don’t get from raising your children to be everything they could be, then it’s not fulfillment you’re seeking. It’s approval from someone outside your family circle.

A pat on the head from a snotty neighbor, or a nod of approval from your withered and dried nasty sister. Something.

Look, I’m not discounting the role females play in making the world go ‘round at all. But the ERA thing turned into a screw men thing quite some time ago. At this time, I know many, many more women who will tell you that the leaders of the feminist movement today do not speak for them, than those who say they do. Why do you suppose that is?

Because they don’t hate men. They’re told they’re supposed to, but they can’t seem to actually do it. They’re told they’re less of a human if they have children, and downright garbage if they decide they wish to stay home and raise them like they were born to. Yes, BORN TO. Men hunt and gather, women nurture. Sorry ladies, that’s just how it is.

Now, because a woman chooses to define herself, and her own role she’ll play in the world, her sisters will become angry and attempt to chastise and discredit her. Shout her down, shame her, and with any luck, get her to change her mind and abandon those kids to a day care to opt for the mediocre job where she will spend her days hating every minute and watching a clock, instead of laughing and loving her children, and enjoying and loving her husband. Makes no sense.

Is that new car or bigger house worth it? In a few short years when the children are gone and you’re left all alone, except for your job that you hate doing, will you still feel “fulfilled” and satisfied? I doubt it. Do you suppose your children will call you on Mother’s day and thank you for doing such a great job at “XYZ” company, and tell you it’s OK that you missed the plays and the ins and outs and ups and downs of their lives, because they understand children are a burden best left to day cares and extended relatives to raise?

No, in all likelihood, they’re going to act out and attempt to gain mommies favor and attention any way they can. Don’t worry though, eventually they’ll figure out that’s not going to happen, and find someone or something else to fill that void. Indiscriminate sex, drugs, booze… whatever.

Look, women are not equal to men. They’re not. And men aren’t equal to women in certain areas either. They’re not supposed to be. Each was designed for a specific purpose, and to complete certain tasks. That’s the nature of it, the way it was designed. When feminism fights this, we, and our children lose every single time.

Now me...

I love feminists, they’re such easy fodder. So, in order to further the debate regarding the unending virtues of the great unwashed I give you my comprehensive list of the different types of feminism and the basic tenets of each individual school of feminism. As a side note, I got the list straight from Wikipedia, lest you doubt my accuracy. So I did my normal three and a half minutes of research and discovered there are actually different branches of feminism…and there’s a lot…twenty five recognized disciplines within one movement.

Amazon Feminism-six foot tall blondes with big boobs standing around quoting Margaret Sanger.
Anarcha- Feminism-screw the rules and give me what I want…I’m PMSing so don’t mess with me boy!
Anti Racist Feminism-even the spicks, slopes, sand-niggers, jigaboos, whaps, and other ethnically diverse women are all equal.
Cultural Feminism-bitching about men with Mozart playing in the back ground.
Eco Feminism-let’s hug a tree, rub our crystals, and bitch about men.
Equity Feminism-gimme my shit monkey boy!
Existential Feminism-huh?
French Feminism-can the French get any more feminine?
Gender Feminism-seems a bit redundant if you ask me.
Individualist Feminism-I am woman, hear me roar, or screech, or whine, or complain, you get the picture.
Lesbian Feminism-once again, redundant.
Liberal Feminism-we’ll elect the most hideously deformed troglodyte we can find.
Male Feminism-the Tony Awards!
Marxist Feminism-your vagina is now property of the state.
Material Feminism-I want nice stuff for all women.
Pop Feminism-Madonna is the Godess!
Post colonial Feminism-ah those kooky French & British. Those lovable little scamps just occupied half the globe’s surface, enslaving millions. Who cares when we can watch Desperate Housewives.
Post modern Feminism-now lesbian porn in one window and Gloria Steinem’s Revolution Within in another. The Internet’s a beautiful thing.
Pro sex Feminism-hey, I’m pro sex too. Bring all them ho’s on!
Psychoanalytical Feminism-lie down on this comfy couch and we’ll tell you how perky your breasts are and how you’re a wonderful person.
Radical Feminism-bitches all!
Separatist Feminism-give us our own island…it’ll be call Titty Tonka.
Socialist Feminism-healthcare for all women…the men can go screw themselves.
Spiritual Feminism-my soul is mine…piss off!
Standpoint Feminism-I have no opinion on this one.
Third-world Feminism-bitch about men while sweeping my dirt floor, because, after all, my hut must be as tidy as my vagina.
Transnational Feminism-we can cuss men out in multiple languages and dialects.
Trans Feminism-is this the same as trans fatty acids, I hear they’re really unhealthy.

As you can see I find feminism fodder for my satirical energy. Now, I’m not advocating abolishing feminism, just retooling it a skoch.

First of all, in order to regain any semblance of credibility feminism may have once had a changing of the old guard and their philosophies is in order. The Naomi Watts, Gloria Stienem, Margaret Sanger cabal who would denigrate and vilify stay-at-home moms need a refresher course in tolerance 101. The theory forwarded by these so-called leaders of the “movement” that women who choose to forgo work and raise their children are intellectually inferior is reason one why mainstream feminism will be demonized as intolerant and not worthy of anything other than disdain. Their shrill harpyesque whining serves only to alienate those they hope to gain allegiance with.

Secondly, their tent is most decidedly small and not inclusive. Differing opinions than the deities of feminism are roundly dismissed as being, once again, intellectually inferior. Those who disagree in the slightest are labeled as misogynist and oppressors of the already down trodden. By employing such rhetoric they are, once again, doing a disservice to their own cause. Tone down the harshness and shut up and listen for a change.

Lastly, all things male are under continual assault by feminism. The Duke Lacrosse story is a prime example. There have been two separate rounds of DNA testing performed that have yielded not a single genetic match to the accused or any of the team mates. Yet the feminists insist the allegations are valid and that the accused players should be tarred & feathered. Here’s my point, if your contention is proven false, fall back and re-evaluate. Don’t hold to your position just because you want to fry a couple idiot macho jerks. And all this negativity towards predominantly male institutions is just so much conjecture. Take a breath ladies, acknowledge the male logistical superiority.

All feminism has to do is tweek its philosophy a bit and they might find acceptance where there was once blood hatred. Because, have no doubt you feminist voices, many out there hate you and all you stand for. But you’re reaping what you’ve sewn.