Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Saving Feminism

Today I had a spark -the kind where a small fire started in the center of my brain, spread out and encompassed everything with its purposeful flames. I have been wondering (i.e. ranting) about how women both young and mature have lately eschewed the term feminism. They are afraid to be labeled as such, and make all sorts of back pedaling murmurings about how they believe in equality, they love that women have the right to make decisions for their bodies, believe in equal pay for equal work, and all other hallmarks of the movement, but no, they, themselves, are not a feminist.

Let's put this into perspective. Say you are eating an ice cream cone. You are enjoying the crispy wafer of cone, the sensual smooth feeling of ice cold creaminess on your tongue on a hot, sweaty day. You are licking away at this thing like it holds the meaning to life when someone comes up to you and asks, "Do you think ice cream is a good idea?" and boldly, without reservation, you lick your lips, hold your cone even more firmly in hand and reply, "Nope."

Perhaps you are confused. It could be the brain freeze from too much cold on your upper palate. Or maybe you feel that the term "ice cream" does not actually describe the wonderful treat you are enjoying like its your last meal. Another possibility- you don't know what you have in your hand at all. That yummy frozen delectable to you has no name, its just another thing you love about life and about being you, which is analogous to bouquets of daisies, unicorns and butterflies stopping slightly to rest on puppy ears.

I want to examine an as-yet-unmentioned possibility for the problematic scene above. Maybe, just maybe, someone has spoon fed you (pun intended) the idea that "ice cream" means a bitter taste. A hateful, spiteful, tar like substance that is never to be created nor ingested. There is the possibility that someone has ruined the term 'ice cream' and made it sound like something you want no part of and will not associate yourself with.

This, dear readers, is what I believe has happened to the word feminism. In order to call one's self a feminist, one must realize that a large proportion of society, both men and women, younger and older, have been taught and passed onto others the idea that feminism means feminazi. That the term really means jack booted female thugs in ugly clothing with too much black eye makeup (and not enough mammary support garments) rioting outside of a government building while living unwashed in tents, burning traditional text books and listening to angry punk music or, gasp! the Cranberries.

Let me try, in my small way, with my minuscule readership, in this tiny corner of the world, to set the record straight. I am a feminist. I am raising my child to be a feminist. My husband is a feminist. My brothers are feminist, my sisters are feminists and I am glad to have been raised by a feminist. To my knowledge, all of my readers are feminists. To be so means to hold the belief that women are equal in rights and importance to men. That women deserve the right to vote, own property, go wherever they please within the law and should not apologize for being born female. That women should aspire to all things their hearts and minds are open to and need no further introduction than their name, or occupation as when you might introduce a man... (We are not "lady-cops" or "lady-doctors" etc.)

To be feminist is to know that women hold an equal place in the world next to men, not second to and not in front of. A feminist holds dear that girls should be given the same educational opportunities, that women should be given the same career and earning opportunities, and should never be punished or excluded for the biology that makes us the bearer of children as infants into the world.

So the next time someone comes up to you while you are enjoying the sweet freedom that is equality and asks you if you believe in feminism, stand tall, square your shoulders, look them in the eye and say, "Why, yes, I do!" Because if you really and truly do not believe in feminism, you need to put down the awesomeness that is the freedom and equality of living in a place where feminism even exists. Go live somewhere it doesn't and then come and beg for that back. I dare you.

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