October 21, 2014

Being a Feminine Feminist

     The other day I was asked if I am a feminist.  It was one of those odd questions that I'm not even sure there was context for.  It just sort of came up and I honestly didn't have a response.  Thus, I have been thinking about it a good deal since then.

     What I have decided is that yes I am a feminist.  To be a feminist, according to the dictionary, means to believe in social, political, and economical equality between men and woman.  I most certainly do believe in equality between genders.  I think it is important that all men and women are taken seriously, and have equal rights in all matters.

     So, what was my hesitation in saying, "Yes, I am a feminist"?  Well, I think my hesitation came not because of the principle ideology of feminism, but rather because of how feminists go about seeking what they desire.  When I look at feminism, at least in America, I often find myself seeing women who are gaining mans rights for themselves.

     Most feminists are not making it so a women staying at home is equal to a man working to provide.  They are saying that women who work are equal to men that work.  Yes, I believe that a women should be payed the same as a man at any job.  Yes I think that women should have the choice to stay at home, or go into a career other then motherhood.  However, I think that the true change is one which doesn't involve women becoming more like men in order to be equal.
   
     I see a world in which the mother is valued as much as the providing father; where the stay-at-home dad is equal to his lawyer wife; and where women and men are equally respected, no matter their chosen paths in life.  I see a world where a Jane Austin loving, dress wearing, flower gathering, and desirous mother-to-be is as respected and safe as the bearded, tattooed, and motorcycling man.

     Am I a feminist? Yes.

     But perhaps I am not an average one.

19 comments:

  1. Well stated! I am so blessed to be able to call you daughter and friend. Your mind is good and your heart is pure, the human race is lucky to have you around.

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  2. Well said! It was direct, clear and well crafted. Your Grandpa Leavitt would bust buttons over this! - denise wilcox

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  3. Wow! No one has said how I feel any better! Love it!

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  4. Well said. This is a topic that requires sincere thought and true consideration. So glad to see that you have used both. Love you, daughter of mine!

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  5. Couple of questions:

    What are "mans rights?"

    Why do you feel it necessary for feminists to address the issue of stay-at-home parents being equal in importance to working parents?

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful questions!

      By "Mans rights" I mean that feminists seem to be focusing a lot on gaining equal rights in the work place, government, and other things that men traditionally have done.

      I think that gaining equal rights in government, and work environments is wonderful. However I feel that sometimes in this search for equal rights out-side of the home leaves us pushing the equality of those at home under the rug. No woman should feel like less because she is at home raising children. Feminism is about gaining equal rights for women. Not just women who want to work, or women who want to be in politics. It is about ALL women gaining respect, safety, and equality to men. That includes women who want to stay-at-home, run for president, worship God, believe in no God, show no skin, or be a striper. Women and men should be equal. From my point of view, their should be no if ands or buts about it.

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    2. I think I understand you to mean that "mans rights" is a term you awkwardly used to refer to those things that feminists desire that have been traditionally only available to men...and that "mans rights" are the only things feminists are interested in acquiring for women.

      If that is what you mean, then I think you are spot on.

      However, if by using the term "mans rights" you are somehow implicitly stating that there is actually such a thing as "man's rights" which are naturally and rightfully exclusive to men, then you should be informed that feminists will and SHOULD be offended by the term.

      Nevertheless, it seems you have aptly characterized what feminists are after and what the goal of feminism should be by using that offensive term in your post. There really is no such thing as "mans rights" where feminists are concerned...the very notion is oppressive and secured only through corrupt socialization and control of women.

      However, many feminists absolutely do empathize with your concern about the lack of respect for stay-at-home parents. But, they typically do not see it as an appropriate topic for the feminist agenda. And why should it be? Men have a much tougher time getting respect as a stay-at-home parent, even from themselves, and making it a feminist issue would invariably leave men out of the equation and therefore suggest that being a stay-at-home parent is exclusively women's work. The "stay-at-home" parent is undervalued in our society be it man or woman. This is not a feminist issue, but rather a cultural devaluation that needs to be addressed by people and organizations that understand the value of stay-at-home parents. There are many feminists who would belong in that category, and many who simply would not without proper convincing! ;-)

      And yes, there are some feminists that will look upon a man choosing to be a stay-at-home parent with respect and at the same time wince a little at the woman choosing to do so. Why? Right or wrong, it's simple really...they feel almost certain that a man who embraces this role is doing so for the right reasons and not because they were socialized to believe that it is the only role of which they are capable and the only role in which they can feel right. Assuming the same is true of a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home parent is not something most feminists would do very easily, as the stereotype is pervasively true and one of the issues contested -- that women are told with authority that they belong in the home. So, while you have aptly pointed out the suspicion that many feminists hold toward stay-at-home mothers, the solution may not come until more progress is made, because the assumptive stereotype still seems reasonable, especially if they know the stay-at-home mother belongs to an organization that actively promotes antiquated and overly defined gender roles.

      I enjoyed reading your blog post very much and hope you continue in earnest. Much love to you and yours!

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    3. Also, in regard to masculine and feminine traits, we have identical twin daughters and one of them is often mistaken as a boy as she keeps shorter hair and has "boyish" mannerisms and the other not so much at all. As I have explained to them from the heart, we all have "feminine" and "masculine" traits that we choose to embrace in the moment for many reasons, some of which are quite mysterious. The important thing to remember is to be your good self and to keep in mind that the value of masculine or feminine is largely a social construct and as with any social construct...it is what it is...and no more or less. ;-)

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  6. Feminism has been a topic of intense discussion amongst my friends lately. I think the stereotype of the militant, man-hating feminist is false and only perpetuated by those who are afraid of change. Generally, I find that women just want to be treated with respect and not to be underestimated or or treated with condescension.

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  7. i love your definition of feminism. as you've described it, we should all be feminists - champions of womanhood in all its forms! sis. vance

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  8. I really agree with your point of view. What is the point of being for equality for only one subset of society?

    I'd love to meet a Jane Austin loving, flower gathering, bearded, tattooed, motorcycle man. Now that'd be someone who is fun to talk to. :)

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    1. They are out there Jeff, seek and ye shall most certainly find! ;-)

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  9. Hey Naomi, this is Maggie's cousin ;)
    I'm a fellow feminist out there who's been really frustrated by assumptions about feminism and really love your definition. I think "feminism" can go both ways, if it's a belief in the equality and equal rights of the sexes- when I see men that are stereotyped or denied rights in any way I think defending them is being a feminist by that definition. Anyway, just thought I'd put that out there and tell you I enjoyed this and your lovely blog.
    -Eden

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    1. Hi Eden, sorry to be so mansplainy, (urban definition: explaining with perceived masculine hubris), but the definition you are giving for feminism is too broad. No pun intended, but I'll leave it anyway because it's unfortunate enough to be laughable.

      Anyway, I agree that any feminist worth their salt should be an egalitarian at heart. So, do you think the time has come to shift the feminist movement into a unisex platform? I'm all for it!! I'm just some dude with daughters who, rather shamefully late in life, finally started to understand what feminism was all about. See, I was egalitarian before I was feminist. I never really co-signed the feminist agenda until I had daughters. It was then that I started to get it -- yes I am hard-headed, but soft-hearted...so it goes. Bottom line, the feminist machine is about fighting for equal rights for WOMEN. And, after looking into the eyes of my first born daughter, I began to see the need for that specific, focused, and concentrated effort. And I am reminded of it, for our daughters, every time I want to point in the direction of a female icon in history -- a great artist, scientist, thinker, leader, etc.

      The push for equality for women is making strides! But, looking through the lens of a father with daughters, I am able to see clearly that misogyny is still thriving under the care of male dominated authority in all of its forms.

      I am concerned for my son too though, as I see that it is a confusing time to grow into a man. And so, I am wondering along with you if UNISEXISM is the way to go? Perhaps we should call ourselves unisexists? That would certainly not remove equal rights issues for women from the table, right? Or would it? Would men use their already entrenched position of power to take the unisex movement over and put the feminine issues on the back burner? I don't think so, but maybe too many do. Maybe too many feminists have allowed themselves to become misandrists along the way...that's a sad thought that worries me for our sons.

      I do hope there is further discussion of this with those who share concerns about the direction of feminism as a movement. Thanks again to The Damsel for putting herself out there and encouraging dialogue.

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    2. The fact is Sean, I wish we broke bread with you guys on a regular basis.

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