Feminist Isn’t a Dirty Word

feminist

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of feminism is:

  1. :  the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

  2. :  organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

feminist  \-nist\ noun or adjective

feministic \fe-mə-ˈnis-tik\ adjective

Today a friend shared an article from March of last year where a woman was justifying why she isn’t a feminist in today’s society.  She starts off by expressing that she believes in equal pay for equal work, a decidedly feminist thought, but in all other ways, she is a 1950’s traditionalist in the duties she believes are hers to fulfill as a woman.  She aspires, in all ways, to be June Cleaver:

  • Have her boyfriend seek her father’s permission to marry her
  • Absolutely take her husband’s last name, no question
  • Women are fragile beings and must lean upon the man once she is no longer single
  • Submit to her husband in all ways:  He is head of the household, the provider, protector and leader of the family.
  • Stay home and have her job be to take care of her husband
  • Stay home and perform all domestic tasks
  • Stay home and care for the children

I’m too Type A to be June Cleaver.

junecleaverI like doing some of the domestic stuff but in no way do I believe that it’s my job, as a woman, to perform those tasks.  My husband and I both live in the house and have always had an understanding that we should share the domestic responsibilities accordingly.  We did not employ a full time maid, and raised our son to understand that it’s his responsibility to clean up after himself.  If he dirties a dish he should rinse and either put it into the sink or the dishwasher.  The same goes with straightening up after himself and keeping his clothes clean.  When he was a child I, of course, helped him with those tasks, but he is a grown ass adult and it is his responsibility now, not some girlfriend’s, or later, his wife’s.

While the first few paragraphs of this article are fine, the author decides she wants to be June in the rest, submitting to her husband, as the Bible says, and that is fine with her.  I can’t buy the rest of the Wilting Flower, I need a man to support and protect me, garbage.

Most of her ideals and role models are likely from the same region of the country that she is in: the South/Southeast. Living is slower there than where I grew up. Half of my family is from Alabama, and I love everything about their traditions and ability to carry on the traditional family roles, but I am in an entirely different style of society in Southern California.

While it’s not impossible to live those values in California, and I’m sure many do, it’s not the way I was raised. My grandmother would be considered a 1970’s feminist without the bra burning and protesting. All of her kids were out of the house by the mid-70’s and she enjoyed the freedom that allowed her:

  • She worked out of the house and earned her own money
  • She enjoyed independent leisure activities
  • She did not bow to the rule of my grandfather, in fact, he took more of the domestic role, he enjoyed cooking and their home was always neat as a pin because they were both quite tidy.

My Mom was definitely the one who wore the pants in my house.  Dad was usually on the same page, but Mom made most of the decisions.  I know that she got a lot of her confidence from seeing my grandma’s courage to step outside of what was expected of her and try new things.

womens-salaries-01-262x300With the two of them, plus some mothers of friends and very strong coaches and teachers as role models, I was bound to be anything but a wallflower, so much so that my Mom used to tell me that she wanted to be like ME when she grew up, LOL.

I’ve had the word “Feminist” thrown at me like it’s a bad thing. That is a load of bullshit. As election day neared and friendships became strained with the realization of just how wrong I was about how some life long friends really felt about a woman’s place in society, I began to take stock of what being a feminist meant to me.

From the mid-1980’s on, most of us went to college and expected to have careers. We expected to contribute to our households in ways most of our grandmothers and some of our mothers hadn’t, and the men we were raised beside expected it too.  With that in mind, the hurt I felt at the nasty tone taken when I was called a feminist, pissed me off even more.

Maybe I could understand how men might feel like that if it were the late 60’s and early 70’s when men were getting their egos bruised because their wives had to go to work to help make ends meet in the very tough economy, but THAT WAS MORE THAN 40 YEARS AGO.  Times have changed but apparently women haven’t come as far as we thought we had.  Some of my male peers, who are still under 50, think the little woman belongs at home having babies, cooking, cleaning and waiting to take care of her man.  PUHLEEZE!  HMMMM

Back to the topic at hand, Amanda Jayne Sankey’s article about not being a feminist.  She says that she is content to let the man take charge, make all of the decisions and provide for the family so that she can concentrate on being, “a mom who takes care of her children and doesn’t miss out on their lives.”  I am actually offended by that comment more than anything else in her brief post.

Stress Mother Running Late with Kids on WhiteThere is no part of being a powerful, strong, capable woman that automatically results in me being unable to also be a mother who can take care of my children and not miss out on their lives. It’s called multi-tasking. It’s what all women do, whether we are stay at home Moms who “do it all,” or Moms who really do “do it all” by leaving the home to work full or part time, sharing in the responsibilities at home, sharing in the responsibilities of caring for our children, and sharing with our spouses the joys of everything going on in our children’s lives.

Neither life choice is right or wrong.  I believe that our lives are largely influenced by how much exposure we have to experiences outside of our community. If we never leave a small town atmosphere where everyone knows each other and no one ventures further than the next town over, then we are highly unlikely to buck tradition.  Being from a faster paced part of the country, where women are much more independent, I’d never be able to live a life with someone who expected me to be June to his Ward Cleaver.  If that makes me a nasty feminist, then sign me up.

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