In response to a comment I made on Facebook about feminism, a friend of mine forced me to write something about feminism. I’m going to be extra judgmental in this post just to spite her. I’m sure she won’t love me any less for it.
Am I a feminist? Hard to say. I’d say “yes” in the sense that I believe that, in essence, every human being should have equal rights, regardless of what intimate parts you carry around. However, I do feel very strongly about the difference between “having equal rights between men and women” and “trying to equalize every single thing between men and women”. I’ll explain by grouping types of feminists because I am well aware of the difference between extremists and people with good, common sense. That, and I said I was going to be judgmental, right?
It was the first, excessively derogatory word that came to mind so I’m sticking with it. Seriously, if you believe that “all heterosexual intercourse is rape” and “all women are lesbians forced by society to display heterosexual behavior” I don’t know what to tell you. Please get off my planet.
This is the group of feminists who have men and women’s best interests at heart yet I feel are missing some important points. They will, for example, quote the statistic on how women in the same career position will earn less money than men. They will then say that “women should earn the same as men”. Besides this statistic not being very solid, it also misses a very important point. Nobody is entitled to “earn the same”. You are entitled to “having the possibility to earn the same”. Semantics? Not really.
Ramit Sethi, psychology/behavioral/financial expert coined that women are notoriously bad at negotiating their salary. I saw an interview of him with a succesful business woman who said she had that same problem and saw it everywhere as well. Obviously one could argue that this is the result of a patriarchal society and whatnot, and it is a serious issue, but keeping this in mind, the method to achieve true equality here would be different. The method would not be to just give women the same pay as men. The method would be for employers to give equal chances for both men and women to EARN their spot. If women do not get the same treatment from employers, that is a serious issue that should be addressed both by employers AND by people in general to properly learn to negotiate salaries.
The C-class type of reasoning is not something I consider “wrong”, despite the fact that I disagree. However, I am convinced that this train of thought of “equalizing everything” is suboptimal in improving society as a whole. I believe in equal RIGHTS and then working within those rights to be the best you can be. If a man is physically better at working a job than a woman, I think it’s perfectly fine to say that the man is better suited for the job, but that does not mean that the woman can’t work that job. I think it’s asinine to say “women need to occupy this type of job more so we’ll give her the job, despite the fact that she is less suited for it.” On the other hand, women should not be ruled out of certain positions either. That would be taking away a woman’s right. A level playing field would give both men and women equal chances to prove their own worth. THAT is equality.
If most people would move to this class, society would be better off. I’m sure of it. These are the people who strive for equality in proper perspective and in the spirit of pragmatism. I recently saw an article from a woman who coined that men should do 50% or more of housekeeping. Seriously, what the hell? If I live with a jobless girlfriend while I’m working my ass off, I’ll expect her to do more. If I’m jobless while she’s working her ass off, I’ll probably do everything around the house. Would society really be better off if people adhered to paradigms with set numbers on how things should be?
I believe there is a better alternative, which I would consider the core principle of B-class feminists. I have mentioned this in an earlier article: To accomodate self-actualization in people. This is not necessarily aimed at women, but since women are actually human beings (wow) I believe anyone who calls him- or herself a feminist should take this seriously. If a woman wants to be in the kitchen, that is fine. (Actually, I encourage this, but that’s just because of my ridiculous appetite combined with my lack of cooking skills. It has little to do with paradigms or gender roles.) If a woman wants to be CEO of a huge company, that is fine too. If either is part of a woman’s “self-actualization”, why the hell would I make a problem out of it? If a woman really is a lesbian, why would I care? If a woman refuses to shave her armpits because she does not want to conform to beauty standards, why can I not just look the other way?
B-class feminists, through this principle, will also understand that there is nothing inherently good or bad about gender roles if they do not conflict with that principle. Apparently, some women take offense if you stand up for them in a crowded train, hold open a door for them or treat them to a meal. Is it old-fashioned? Sure, but when was old-fashioned a synonym for bad? I’m trying to be chivalrous and courteous here, not trying to assert my dominance over you by making you feel weak. If you believe that is the case and you’re unable to say “no, thanks” and leave it at that, you have some issues. Frankly, I think there’s something romantic about chivalry and I see absolutely no harm done to the progression of society towards equality if we accept chivalry or other old-fashioned, gender-role related stuff as okay… Provided that it does not interfere with the core principle.
Women (or men?) who have earned their stripes and walked the walk. Anyone can yell stuff on the internet, feeling that their opinion is important or intelligent enough to be worthy of sharing (guilty!). Actually doing something in the name of equality, acting upon what you stand for… Now there’s something particularly praiseworthy and uncommon.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Soviet sniper in WWII. She was credited with over 300 kills. This is quite a feat… Especially considering the fact that women were generally less accepted (or even not allowed to be) in the army during that time, and she was actually offered to become a nurse. She refused and proceeded to outclass many male snipers, shattering the stereotype of women being unfit or too weak to be good soldiers. She was properly credited by being promoted to major and referred to as a hero of the Soviet Union, even being invited to the White House at some point where she got criticized for wearing ‘a skirt that was too long’ and ‘clothes that made her look fat’. Which was kind of a dick move but at the same time amusing, since… You know, she fucking outclassed countless men in a typical “man’s environment” after people tried to put her in a typical
Aletta Jacobs was a Dutch doctor and a crucial factor in women being allowed to vote in the Netherlands. This was about 100 years ago, when women were expected to do housework and definitely NOT go to universities. Jacobs was like “fuck this shit, I wanna be a doctor!”, wrote the dutch prime minister about it and he was like “k” and she proceeded to be the first woman to finish a university study in the Netherlands, as well as the first female doctor in the country. Originally, you had to make a certain amount of money to be able to vote in the Netherlands, but with Jacobs being a doctor and earning enough money to vote, government officials were all “oh HELL naw!” and banned women from being able to vote. It took Jacobs 20 years and a lot of pissed off women, but in the end, the government could do little more than cower in fear and give the angry mob of women what they wanted – a voice in politics. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right?
Edith Garrud. I don’t even know where to start with this woman. Basically, over 100 years ago, there was a group of women in England who thought they could have the same rights as men. Crazy, right? Well, most men seemed to think so and these women got a lot of shit for it. Garrud wasn’t too happy about it. Fortunately, this tiny lady was so good at martial arts that she joined the fray, training a lot of women and eventually causing a lot of police officers to get their ass kicked. A demonstration for women’s rights would usually mean police officers with batons trying to break up the whole thing… Until Garrud and her friends showed up, throwing around officers into every direction.
“The women would be out there in big dresses and hats, looking totally normal, but underneath their heavy wool dresses they’d have three inches of cardboard wrapped around their midsections to prevent them from breaking ribs when they were clubbed by police truncheons.
Oh right, and under their dresses they’d be packing Indian clubs, which are basically bowling pin-looking things that really really seem like they’d hurt like a motherfucker if you got popped in the dome by one.” – From badassoftheweek.com
So 100 years ago, the women got what they wanted and were finally allowed to vote. Took them a lot of bruised police officers before it got that far.
(Note: www.badassoftheweek.com has extensive and awesomely written summaries on Pavlichenko and Garrud, as well as on other badass men and women.)
These are A-class feminists. A few extraordinary exceptions. Women who stood up for what they believed in and gave the finger to anyone thinking that they could not do so “just because they’re women”. I don’t expect every woman (or man) to want to be part of this class, but I mentioned these people to help everyone put things in perspective. ‘Walking the walk’ can happen on a smaller scale as well. Jack Donovan (the homosexual who hates homosexuals and wants to be called an ‘androphile’, the anti-feminist who praises masculinity as well as the true strength of women, as odd as it might sound) wrote a very interesting thing on this.
“My favorite women to deal with, though, are the country women.
Here’s the thing—most of these babes can drive tractors and know more about engines than I ever will. I’ve had them offer to help load something up onto their all-terrain vehicles for me and drive it out through the mud to the barn, like it was no big deal. Country women are not afraid to get dirty. Most can probably handle a weapon—or judging from the gun safes, are at least used to having them around. They pull their own weight. They are not spoiled.
What I’ve noticed is that even though they do all of these manly things most of them seem more comfortable with traditional gender roles and with men in general than many of their urban and suburban counterparts. They seem to be at once less threatened by men, and more respectful of them. They seem to be aware of sex differences, perhaps because they’ve worked side by side with men. They don’t have a chip on their shoulders. They are feminine in a natural way, but they are strong when they have to be. They know how to act around the boys. They know how to be strong women without asking men to change to accommodate them. They want their men to act like men.
Very few jobs put men or women under the kind of stress that widens the gender gap. They have become so exotic that we follow shows like Dirty Jobs, Ax Men, Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers on the same channels we learn about foreign cultures, ancient history and cavemen.” – Jack Donovan
I often disagree with the guy, but I still love his point of view on many things. His point here is that gender roles say very little about being weak/strong, dominant/submissive or anything else. He gives a great example of tough, strong women who get their hands dirty, are not afraid of men (and have very little reason to) while still fitting a traditional woman’s gender role.
It might almost sound like I’m in favor of traditional gender roles, but that’s not necessarily the case. To me it’s all about the core principle that I mentioned in this post and not much else:
- Equal rights and possibilities to accomodate self-actualization in people.
True equality is something we haven’t reached yet in this world, but like my friend (I wonder if she’s agitated yet?) said; “I don’t care about the term ‘feminism’. I care about a large-scale mentality shift.” Terms like ‘rape culture’, ‘war on women’ or even ‘feminism’ itself are ambiguous and may encompass very serious issues as well as total bullshit. I suggest not putting too much energy into semantics and just trying to be a B-class and work from there.