Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I'm a Feminist

A rather long comment I made on a Facebook post deserved to be a blog post and since I no longer maintain my politically inclined blog, I'm posting it here.

The reference is to something someone said about a meme that was posted, one going around FB that feminism isn't about women being better or superior to men but about women being equal to men. And the comments were very narrow focused and I wanted to get folks to see the bigger picture. So here's what I posted.


Many years ago, back before social media and the internet in every home, I read, in one of those old-fashioned newspapers, the kind printed on actual paper, a wonderful quote about equality from an educator, whose name has long ago escaped my memory. He was talking about racial equality, but the concept applies to any group of people not being treat equally with every other group of people. The point he made -- and since I also don't remember the actual quote, the best I can do is paraphrase the the concept -- is that equality isn't attained when the best of the (fill in with group, race, sex, sexual orientation/religion/noun of your choice) is given the same opportunities as (white people/men/straights/Christians/noun of your choice), but when the mediocre of those groups are given the same opportunities to succeed or fail as the (white people/men/straights/Christians/privileged group noun of your choice).

That has always been the hardest concept for people to grasp, IMO. It's not just about promoting women or no longer putting them down. It's not just about celebrating all their victories and successes, and it's not even just about paying them what a man would get for the same job and responsibilities, same as it would be for all ethnic groups to receive equal pay for equal effort. It's about not downgrading a job title when a woman has the job so the pay can be lowered though the work is the same. It's about all females of humanity being given the same rights and education and opportunities as the male of the species. It's about not keeping standards for some jobs so high no women reasonably will qualify, when those standards are higher than the job actually requires, which once made reasonable, brought more female cops and firefighters to NYC, and the city hasn't suffered for it.

It's about fairness and realizing that fathers and mothers have equal responsibility to raise children and that their employers and others should respect that. It's about never hearing the kind of inane comments made by misogynist sportscasters deriding Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy because he took off the first few days of the season to be there for the birth of his first child, a paternity benefit that is part of the MLB player contract. It's about other sports and employers all including paternity benefits, and not just for natural births, but for adoptions, too.

It's about making the world safer for both genders, which includes men understanding that while they, too, can be victims of domestic violence and rape, they don't have reason to be afraid when they travel by themselves, be it by foot or train or even bus, nor do they have to face abusive comments and inappropriate touching and it's as much up to them to stop it from happening to women as it is for women to speak up.

And it's about women being able to walk around wearing whatever they like that meets the legal requirement. Sure, some women dress for attention, and if people stare, so be it. But that low-cut top or those short shorts are not invitations for catcalls, whistles, or pinches. If men would just think how they'd feel if some whistled at them or grabbed their butt through their tight jeans and that was a common occurrence, maybe they'd start to realize how offensive it is. It's about men understanding that women don't really need you to call out to them to compliment them just because they find those women appealing. We women don't do that to men -- certainly no more often than on a rare occasion -- so how about we all just smile or nod to each other (of all sexes) as we pass each other and remain respectful.

Because that is what it's about: RESPECT. Women don't exist for the purpose of being someone's babymaker. Women exist for the same reasons as men do, because it takes a man and a woman to make more of us, and other than that, we are equal. And we should be treated as such.

So, yeah, call me a feminazi, or whatever else your heart desires. That says more about you than me. I'm a feminist because true feminism is about equality.


Which I followed with:

Now that I've read some of the other comments, I agree that some overcompensation is usually needed to achieve equality, much as it sounds like a contradiction. But as we've seen in terms of race, a kick in the butt via affirmative action is usually needed to force the issue and get past prejudices, biases, stubbornness, and just plain inertia.