On a feminist scale that ranges from Rush Limbaugh to Gloria Steinem, I think I’m happy to be somewhere in the middle. I do not believe feminism exists anymore, at least, not in the same way that it did 100 years ago and therefore I will likely never be classified as such. I realize that there are many misconceptions concerning what a true feminist looks and sounds like but, could I ever truly, always love being a woman? Would I ever be able to hold the status of women above that of men in every instance? Can it be that women should condemn all forms of salacious baring of the female form? Can I never enter a Hooters restaurant and enjoy fried pickles again?
With that, I offer you my top 5 reasons why feminism is not for me:
1. No matter how hard I try to will it to be so, I will never be able to see my womanhood as a beautiful, sacred thing. Any woman who has experienced an evil, raging monthly cycle will tell you that being female can often be an ugly, torturous lot in life. I do not believe my feelings on the matter are due to how society has successfully trained me to feel shame about my period; It just flat out sucks. If my period were a person, I would grab it by the neck and punch it all day long. I will never be able to get power from it or celebrate it with my lady friends. I know we, as women, shouldn’t try to hide it from the men folk and we shouldn’t practice covert tactics in order to conceal the fact that it’s Shark Week but, must we rejoice in it? Anyone who knows me would tell you that there is no guessing with me; when I suffer – everyone suffers. I don’t blame my stabby behavior on PMS, I blame it on my general anger at having to be inconvenienced in the most ridiculous way and that I have absolutely no control over it. Those close to me will also tell you that I thrive on control and the wrath endured by those around me when I have lost control is much worse than any PMS blitz attack.
2. I cannot even fathom the idea of giving my body over to a cause. Radical feminists often employ the dreaded sit-it protest to display their anger about one cause or another. Other maneuvers include- living in communes, pitching tents outside some offending bureaucratic institution or simply just sitting without privilege of bath or food. It is not that I am incapable of fighting for a cause and of understanding what it means to sacrifice for something you believe in. It is mostly because I enjoy the pleasure of daily showers, pizza and beer. I would be more than happy to wake up one day, take a shower, have some pizza and a beer, and head to Congress and speak about the importance of reproductive rights for women or go to school to become a professor and educate as many people as possible about injustices perpetrated against women all over the world. It is not enough to put your health and freedom at risk to bring attention to a cause. A solid plan is needed as to permanently set in the changes brought about by a movement – something not often found in the Feminist’s Handbook.
3. If I were to ever discover that I was denied any sort of rights by anyone for the sole reason that I was a woman, I would walk up to that individual and set them straight. I would not go home and organize some sort of parade in which all the others of my kind carry signs that spell “Women” with a “Y” and say things like “Down with Men!” because we believe that some undisclosed male person is at fault for all of our problems. No, I would walk up to the specific male person who was trying to take my rights away and put an end to it. We no longer live in a time when we need to organize in great numbers because women do not have a voice as one. My voice is just as loud as one million women and I know I have very strong and extremely brave women in history to thank for that fact. I will be forever indebted to them, as will my daughter and I feel I owe it to them to now stand on my own two feet and stop using 100+ year old injustices as a crutch. Today, we only have ourselves to blame if we aren’t treated fairly and are too afraid to speak up. Blaming the social construct can only take us so far and these days there are much bigger fish to fry.
4. I refuse to be offended by music videos and advertisements which feature hot, scantily clad women dancing around. I vow to also not be offended when I see hot, scantily clad men on every soap opera on daytime television. I am an equal opportunity appreciator of nudity and I believe, in America, no adult human being can be exploited unless they allow themselves to be. Condemning musicians and the media for teaching our children that it is acceptable to objectify women is as futile as it is ludicrous. If we are not teaching our own children the difference between reality and fantasy than what do we expect the outcome to be? Censoring the whole entertainment industry’s effort to express their freedom of speech and artistic interpretation just seems like a very tedious and expensive way to avoid talking to your own kids.
5. The final blow to our potential dependency on men comes in the form an occasional lesbian coup d’etat, so to speak. Feminists -especially those of the “second wave” variety- have been known to spontaneously change sexual orientation to fit the feminist ideal. Did you not know that men are persistently and without our approval, controlling us with sex? I cannot be a self-imposed lesbian any more than I can be a self-imposed cat or tree. I can only be honest with myself and respond to my own needs and desires. I do not need to prove my support of women’s rights by forcing myself into any box. I am completely comfortable living on my floating Atypical Island that hovers just above what society deems normal hetero behavior and often crosses the border into the realm of the undeniably socially unacceptable. Honestly, I believe attaching a label to yourself or someone else is one of the worst and most irresponsible things you can do. Labels only give others the power to be critical of choices we have made in our lives. In any case, I am sure labeling my sexuality would only cause there to be a line of people ready to tell me why I was not qualified to wear that label.
Though there are many more reasons I have effectively rejected radical feminism, I have no interest in creating a manifesto. I only hope that a distinction can be made between advocacy for the equality of women and the now archaic views of feminism. We, as women, should support one another in our endeavors without excluding half of the population in the process. Women should be taught to respect themselves and to be comfortable fighting for what they want. I do not feel any of these things are exclusively feminist in nature but indicative of advocacy in general. An advocate may choose a cause that is personally poignant but, the ultimate goal should irrefutably be equal rights for all.