On The Issue of Feminism

My feed is blown up with feminist and anti-feminist rhetoric, and I find that I can no longer sit in the middle of so much controversy without pointing out what everyone seems to be missing. We’re all so busy arguing about whether gender equality is still an issue, but I don’t think we’re focusing on the right thing.

I personally have not labelled myself feminist or anti-fem for the same reason that I don’t identify as democrat or republican, liberal or conservative. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle on the issues. Lately I’ve been so confused about what the issues are that I’ve stayed silent, but this article helped shed some light on the subject and helped me find my voice.

It’s not about women’s rights.

You heard me.

Women’s rights are not the issue here. The point has been pushed by women, and maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. We’re all very proud of the strong feminist movement that gave women their voices, and so of course women are eager to assume the title. But this push isn’t about feminism as it began. We already have the ability to vote, to speak, to dress how we want, to pursue an education and career in whatever field we choose.

Yeah, yeah. I can already hear the voices exclaiming, “But I am pursuing a career in a male dominated field and I’ve had to fight for every little success I’ve ever had because I’m a woman!” Yes. I’ve heard it. In fact I’ve been there. Try joining the Navy at a petite 5’3″ and 115 lbs.

Everyone thinks you aren’t up for the job. You’re  going to sleep around the office. You’re going to get married or pregnant and quit. Whenever the job gets hard, you’re going to call someone for help instead of doing it yourself. Because you’re a woman.

Congratulations! You’ve been stereotyped. Guess what? So has everyone else.

And that’s my point. What we’re fighting here isn’t just a woman’s issue. It’s a human issue. For every hardship women are faced with in society right now, I can point out it’s equal opposite for men.

Instead of squabbling about who has it worse, let’s talk solutions.

Let’s get to the point and say that everyone is over-sexualized in America, and it’s toxic.

What if instead of complaining that we can’t wear anything we want without getting cat called or raped or judged by men, we treat ourselves with dignity and respect first. Don’t tolerate or buy into the way women are portrayed in the media. Don’t put half naked girls in music videos and act like that’s desirable or what women should look like. It’s not. We encourage our own over-sexualization by supporting that kind of media.

Don’t hang around guys who buy into that. News Flash: Men want women in their lives. If all the women walk out, the majority of men will follow. It might only be on the surface at first, but that’s a natural step in the transition. After the civil rights movement everything wasn’t peachy just because segregation ended was it? A lot of white people had to suck up their pride and bite their tongues because what they wanted to say or do was no longer acceptable. Fast forward a generation or two, and the majority of young white  people can hardly believe segregation was a real thing. So it is whenever society makes a conscious decision to change without a universal consensus.

And on the flip side, don’t give what you can’t take. Women cat call, grope, and sexually harass men all the time. Don’t try to deny it. I’m a woman and I’ve been there, remember? Women get away with it because “men like it”. It’s one of the not-so-great stereotypes men are stuck with. If they don’t enjoy women’s sexual advances, there’s something wrong with them. Replace “like” with “want” in that quote. Sound familiar? If you don’t want it said or done to you, don’t say or do it to them.

Let’s admit that American society is desperately trying to redefine familial roles and responsibilities, and our societal expectations need to catch up.

Remember that bit about the first gen of feminists paving the way for women to pursue education and careers? It’s in the law books people! It’s our expectations of social roles that need to catch up.

Feminists want more female CEOs and Managers. They want more women in the work force receiving equal pay. They want paid, extended maternity leave and extra time to pump breast milk when they come back.

Well, what about men? Where’s their extended paternity leave? When do they get kudos at work for spending time with their kids? I think single dads should get extra paid sick days for when their kids miss school. And what about the kids? Who is taking care of the kids while all of these men and women go chase their careers?

Here’s where it’s at:

More women aren’t in the higher positions, not because men are stone-walling them, but because most women aren’t willing to sacrifice their children and families to chase the mighty dollar. Men can’t stay home with the kids because then he’s Mr. Mom and his wife wears the pants (another of men’s glorious stereotypes). His masculinity is shot. Men are supposed to fill that role in our society. Or at least they were supposed to before divorce and single motherhood became a norm. Because kids need their moms right? So moms should have majority custody right? But moms and kids need money to live, so mom works. Now she’s stretched so thin from trying to fill both roles that she’s failing as a mother and as a career woman.

See where I’m going with this? I’ll lay it out, just in case you don’t.

If women are going to be in the workforce, be it because it’s their right or because it’s their necessity, society has to give somewhere in there. Operating on the assumptions that children are the future and we as a country care about our future, family support has got to be the priority. That means quality childcare has got to be made affordable, and men cannot be looked down on for staying home with the kids if that’s what works for their family. The first months after a baby is born are crucial to child development, therefore paid maternity leave has got to happen. And we’ve got to get over the fact that women have breasts. If we address the over-sexualization piece above it’ll help us realize that breasts are for feeding babies. They cost a heck of a lot less than formula, but only if women have the chance to use them. That requires giving female employees time to pump, and not guilting her about it. Having childcare on site would expedite things since babies generally feed faster than the pump can pump. Just a thought.

And in case you’re wondering, I am fully aware that every one of these provisions costs money. A lot of money. But this is where we’re at as a society. Women are in the workforce to stay. It’s become necessary. Either we continue in the destructive trend we’re in (destructive because kids are the future and if mom’s got to work then who’s got the kids, Remember?), or we embrace where we are and live up to the favorite child-rearing phrase “It takes a village”.

If we do the math as other countries have, and I mean actual number crunching here, we’ll realize that the potential loss involved with these investments is miniscule compared to the financial pay off of having a quality, mentally healthy, and stable workforce.

So that’s my piece. Tell me it’s idealistic and my proposed solutions will never happen. That doesn’t change the truth. We don’t have a women’s problem or a men’s problem. We have massive society problems. Let’s quit fighting. Let’s quit shaming. Let’s talk solutions and then make it happen.

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