Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm a Modern Feminist - So I've Discovered

We have all learned about the feminist movement at some point in our schooling. We gape at the idea that women had to fight for rights that we sometimes take for granted, and we admire the women who sacrificed their lives to further the rights of women around the world. Susan B. Anthony was commemorated on the U.S. dollar coin: the only woman featured on the currency until Sacagawea made her debut in 2000. The 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution. That was just the beginning.

Later "The Feminine Mystique" blamed society for trapping women in their homes, when we have so much more to offer. And so we continued to fight, and burned our bras in the process, until we had conquered the glass ceiling and achieved the ultimate prize: equality with men.

But as I take a look around, to see what the feminist movement has given me, and I find myself somewhat dissatisfied with the outcomes. Don't get me wrong, I believe the roots of feminism were pure, and I believe that women should have equal rights on all fronts. I do not believe that women should be discriminated against because they are women, and I certainly don't think a man has more to offer simply because he has a set of marbles in his pants (despite losing those in his head).

But at the same time, the feminist movement became so focused on being equal with men that it completely overshadowed the women it was trying to defend. Women lost the essence of being a woman, and became 'the same as a man'. Now, the world (or at least American society) looks to women as the same as a man, and therefore discounts all of the things that women can do that a man cannot.

Sure, a woman can stay at home; cook, clean, and keep the house tidy. So can a man. Sure a man can go to work, and make a living to support a family. So can a woman. Women have pushed and shoved and elbowed their way into the former "Men Only" worlds of business, sports, politics, science, medicine, law...The list seems endless. But honestly I don't see where we have become truly equal.

In math, equality is as a mirror. 2=2 just the same as 2=2. You cannot tell here which is the male 2 and which the female. But society is not the same as math. For society equality between the sexes is more like 2=1+1. Sure the sum is the same, and we can say in the end both are 2, but men certainly do not value the female arts the way they value their own.

Women have joined the business world in droves, but male nurses (a traditionally female career) account for less than 6%.  Teaching (another traditionally female position) is also dominated by women, outnumbering male teachers 3 to 1 in schools. Don't even get me started on traditionally feminine skills like sewing, knitting, cooking and baking. Although we do see men making forays into the culinary worlds, so I'll give them that. But where is the stay-at-home dad's TV spot across from Martha Stewart? Where is the man washing dishes in the Dawn dish soap commercial? No, for society there are some jobs that are still only for women.

This disparity used to infuriate me. I wanted to graduate from college, start my career, blow that glass ceiling into oblivion and show the world that just because I was a female didn't mean I wasn't just as good as the men around me. And then I realized: those men ain't got shit on me. Not a one of them could birth a baby. Snap. Game over.

I quit that job and assumed the traditional role of the domestic housewife. A role that I thought I was better than. But as it turns out, I'm just good enough to call myself a wife and mother. I realized that there is plenty to take pride in within the domestic role. And plenty of skills that are overlooked in the pursuit of being 'the same as a man'.

And so I arrived at modern feminism. I don't think modern feminism as I see it is a defined movement. I don't think it has a Twitter following, and I'm not supporting it just because it's popular. I am a Modern Feminist.

I will sacrifice my life; my time, and my energy to promote the beauty of being a WOMAN, rather than simply trying to be like a man. I will embrace the powers that I possess by virtue of my gender. I will wear dresses! (j/k I know men can do this too). But seriously, I'm going to wear dresses. I will embrace natural, non-medicated childbirth because pregnancy and birth are not a disease to be feared, but an innate super power to be revered. I will birth many children, and I will be proud to say I 'just stay at home'. I will breastfeed my babies, in public when they are hungry, because God has given me all of the tools I need to meet their needs, and last I checked I had two boobs and no bottles.

I will embrace the tasks that have been traditionally 'women's work'. I will sew and knit (well I am currently learning) so that my children will know that the things I have made them have love in every stitch. I will grow a garden. I will can/jar my own jams and sauces; not because it is frugal (although it is) but because women not only have the power to give life but to cultivate it, with nothing but their hands and hearts. I will cook and bake, from scratch, not from a box. I will keep my house well. I will support and respect my husband.

I will not do these things out of obligation, I will do them out of choice. The current (and past) feminist movements have given me the choice to enter a "man's" world, but they have forgotten the alternative is still a choice. Choosing a traditional women's role does not make me less than. On the contrary. I am empowered to be a woman.

I will step back from the constant battle of being like a man, just to enjoy being a woman. And in the end, I will raise up my portion of the next generation to know that a can and should be respected as a woman. That a woman can do ANYTHING that a man can do, and quite a few things that he can't even imagine.

True feminism is in recognizing the beauty of being a woman, not in becoming the same as a man.


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