I would say, no, I am not a feminist. But then, it would depend on your definition of “feminist.” Sometimes I think that there are as many definitions for “feminist” and “feminism” as there are people in this world — no two being exactly alike. Which complicates discussions like this quite a bit!
There have been several things about feminism that have come to my attention, most of them quite recent, but one being from a blog post written several months ago. In this particular post, the woman had some list of “definitions” of feminism, or “how you can tell if you’re a feminist.” Included in them were two that were particularly memorable — 1) if you think your husband shouldn’t beat you, and 2) if you think women should be able to hold property, or not be considered property themselves. By this definition, then, I would be a feminist, but that, to me, is not feminism; it’s just the typical Western, modern attitude, of both men and women. [When I mentioned those two points in the list of “defining characteristics of feminism,” my husband gave me this weird, confused look, and said, “That’s not ‘feminism,’ that’s just being… sane!] Perhaps in countries and cultures where women are still considered property, then these two things could be considered evidence of “feminism”; but not in modern-day America. I don’t think this list does the modern permutation of “feminism” any favors, because it waters it down so much as to make it meaningless. Perhaps some women may say, “Okay, I’m a feminist,” after reading that, but I think there are too many differences between “my” definition of feminism and this overly broad list for me and many other women to follow suit.
So, what is a feminist? In thinking about this topic, I thought about the similarities and differences between the early feminists (Susan B. Anthony, etc.) and those of the middle 20th century, and those of the modern era. One reason why I don’t identify with the feminist label is that to me it is far too politically and socially liberal. Most modern-day feminists are abortion advocates and call themselves “pro-choice.” Not all do — the organization “Feminists for Life” is a group of self-proclaimed feminists who among other things oppose abortion. In this, they are aligned with the early feminists, who called abortion “child murder,” and “infanticide,” with Elizabeth Cady Stanton writing, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” So, while I shrink back from taking the label “feminist” to myself in part because of the connotations of abortion, I know that these two things do not necessarily go together.
Another “definition” of feminist in my mind is one who looks down on women who stay home with their children. In that, I was refreshed to find that several of the bloggers whom I read are proud feminists as well as proud stay-at-home moms. And while they do not denigrate women who must or choose to work instead of staying home to care for their own children, they say that for themselves, working outside the home would be difficult if not unthinkable — that their children, and taking care of their children, and being there for their children, are of the utmost importance. As I said, it is refreshing, because that is exactly the way I feel.
In thinking of this topic, the memory of the so-called Hegelian dialectic popped into my mind. Basically, you have the status quo or “thesis,” and then comes along the anti-thesis to challenge it, and eventually they come together to form the new synthesis. [Forgive me if that’s a horrible garbling of it, but I’m going on my memory of Sociology 101 from 15 years ago, so it may be a tad rusty.] The earliest wave of feminism was the antithesis of the then-current status quo, which eventually gave rise to a new synthesis (one in which women had the right to hold property and to vote). Then the synthesis (or thesis) was challenged by another wave of feminists, different from the first set, which ultimately resulted in another synthesis. Now, that synthesis is being challenged by a new group of feminists, who find themselves dissatisfied with at least certain aspects of their mothers’ generation of feminists and feminism.
What I would call a feminist is quite different from the dictionary definition. I can agree with many aspects of what is called “feminism,” but must vehemently disagree with other aspects, since I am socially and politically conservative. Where is the feminist zeal for promoting birth choice, as opposed to promoting birth avoidance? Or is abortion the only “choice” allowed? — and if the woman makes the choice to remain pregnant, she loses all other choices in pregnancy and birth? Some liberals/feminists have been vocal about this; but in large part the “pro-choice” people ignore women who have to fight to avoid a C-section. Perhaps because politics makes strange bedfellows, and ACOG is a strong supporter of abortion, so NARAL and NOW and other so-called feminist groups would rather make nice with abortion doctors (who are mostly OB/GYNs) even while women are being trampled. But I guess, just as long as abortion is sacrosanct, that’s all that matters.
Actually, I had two very weird dreams I was going to write down, but I forget the other one. If I remember it, I’ll write it here, too.
For some unknown reason, I dreamt that I was with a group of friends in an airport in France, and the place was packed — there was barely enough room for people to walk through. I’m not sure what we were doing — perhaps just trying to move from one gate to another, or perhaps trying to grab a bite to eat (there were long tables set up with chairs around them, for people to sit down, like at a church pot-luck) — when suddenly there was this big commotion. It was Donald Sutherland roughly pushing his way through the crowd, not caring one iota about the people he pushed out of the way, knocked down, hit with his luggage, etc. He was a-cussin’ and a-fussin’! I remember hearing him yell, “Get out of my way! I’m married to a native!” [He was married to a native French-woman, Brigitte Bardot, and apparently thought that that gave him special rights to get where he wanted to go, as opposed to the rest of us who were not French nor married to any French people.] Then, Keifer Sutherland, who was sitting at one of the aforementioned tables, recognized his dad (as well as his rudeness), stood up and called him out, saying something harsh and rude, like, “What the h&ll do you think you’re doing?” or “Who gave you the right to treat these people like this?” or something like that. Donald whirled around, totally p*$$ed off that someone would dare to talk to him that way, and ready to swing a punch or two at the poor hapless soul who had dared to cross him; but when he saw that it was his son — poof! — all his anger dissipated, and he instantly laughed and became jovial, sitting down to eat with Keifer and the rest of the people who happened to be at his table.
Then the alarm went off, and I woke up. To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I would have dreamed that. The last movie I saw with Donald Sutherland was the latest version of Pride & Prejudice, several months ago, and I have rarely thought of it since; although perhaps someone mentioned it to me, and it burrowed down into my mind, to come out into a dream. Weird, huh? 🙂
Just a quick post because it was on my mind.
I’ve read some of the controversy surrounding the “Focus on the Family” ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mom who made the decision not to have an abortion when she was pregnant with him. Some of what I’ve read has been positive, some has been negative.
What I don’t like a lot about the “negative” comments is from the supposedly “pro-choice” people who seem to be vastly upset about the choice Mrs. Tebow made. Even some of their own have said that this attitude makes them look merely pro-abortion, rather than the “pro-choice” position they claim to have. Not all of the negative comments have been like that; and there was even at least one positive article about the ad (and Tim Tebow in particular) from someone who called herself pro-choice.
But here’s what really bothers me — the ad is fine and I have no problems with it, but since I’m pro-life, you would probably expect that. What bothers me about ads during sporting events is that so many of them feature women as just eye candy, and the more scantily clad, the better. I don’t particularly like most sports, but really don’t like watching the games because of all the half-naked women and suggestive situations in so many of the commercials. Practically soft porn, in many instances.
I wish that NOW and all the rest of the feminists and others who have gotten themselves worked up into a fury about Mrs. Tebow’s choice would direct a bit of that energy into decrying the raunchy advertisements that denigrate women and in so doing belittle men. In both instances, these make people to be somewhat less than whole people — making women to be just bodies rather than women with feelings, and men to be little better than animals guided solely by sexual passions.