21 November 2006

Thanks for being a feminist

I just deleted someone from my bloglines for proudly saying that she is not a feminist (no, not Jennster or Julie - people I love can get away with anything!). In this case, it was just my latest indication that this particular blogger was kind of a dunce.

I just had heard it one time too many..."I'm all for equality, but I'm not a feminist!" I think it is just inconceivably stupid and short-sighted.

I know women who don't like to associate themselves with feminists. They don't want to get dragged into the fray with those noisy, pesky, messy trouble-makers. Oh, no, they're much nicer than that. They think we have already achieved everything that needs to be achieved and they did it all by themselves. Because they are so smart! And clever! And they never needed anyone to give them anything!

It just makes me want to start screaming at their stupid little ungrateful idiotic selves. Their sense of privilege makes the fur stand up on my neck.

Let's take a little trip down feminist memory lane.

How bad were things for women before feminism? Try this on for size: when former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor graduated from Stanford Law in the 50's, no one would hire her. Because she was a woman. She took a job as a legal secretary.

Sex-segregated want ads were legal until 1968. There were many jobs that were just not open to women. There was no recourse. No one to appeal to. And that was okay.

A married woman who wanted to establish credit in her own name usually could not. It wasn't until 1974 that a US law prohibiting discrimination in lending was passed.

Spousal rape was legal. The first law in the US prohibiting spousal rape was passed in 1976. Until then, if you were married, your body was your husband's to do with what he wanted.

But now everything is better, right?

Right now in 28 states it is still legal for employers to ask about your marital status and whether you have children or not before they hire you. Is that right?

Women have made wage gains, but still only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. No big deal?
Over a lifetime of work, the 23 cents-on-the-dollar we're losing adds up. The average 25-year-old working woman will lose about $455,000 to unequal pay during her working life.

And because we're paid less now, we have less to save for our futures and we'll earn smaller pensions than men. Half of all women with income from a pension in 2002 received less than $5,600 per year, compared with $10,340 per year for men.

I know, boring statistics. Always complaining, those icky rude feminists. Why can't they be more positive??
Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for all the gains women have made. Women are outpacing men in getting university educations. Law and medical schools all over the country are filled with female students. Opportunities are better than they ever have been for men as well as women.

But there is a long way to go in our country and an even longer way to go in other parts of the world. If you think things are fine as a woman here, just take a look around and lend a hand to our sisters somewhere else. Female genital mutilation. Sharia law. Domestic violence. Rape. There are plenty of things to stand up and shout about.

Because we have gained so much from their efforts, I think we owe early feminists a debt of gratitude that can only be repaid by continuing their work. Only when every woman and man is treated with equality, dignity and respect will our task as feminists be done.


Stephanie said...

I'm a feminist and my husband proudly wears the label as well ;)

I think people don't want to be associated with what they perceive is a negative definition. I think "feminist" is a very positive word and I think more people fit the definition than use it to describe themselves.

LittlePea said...

I am a proud feminist!!!! Never thought it was a bad word and I can't understand why anyone would.

Momcani said...

I have to say that I didn't read all of your statistics. (tired). I don't know that I have ever said that I am a feminist, but I wouldn't be offended if I was called one. I know what I am capable of. I can't change 1,000 of years of prejiduice overnight. But I have raised my kids (I hope) to understand that the nature of your sex doesn't garantee anything. My daughter will have to work harder just to prove she is capable, and my sons will have to accept that women are sometimes "the better man" for the job. I do not kid myself that the battle has been won. I just don't let anybody treat me inferior because of my sex. I do understand that there is a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

Great summary! I like to think of myself as a feminist/humanist :)

VenturaMom from said...

Thanks for a great post, Suebob! Being a feminist is one of my favorite "labels." it's right up there with Democrat, mother and rock star.

ada said...

excellent post - sent it to a few "I'm not a feminist" friends.

super des said...

Gee. those points make me want to not be a feminist either. I like being totally helpless and insignifigant and not quite a real person.

Anonymous said...

Yay for hard numbers proving we have more work to do!

I don't get women who go out of their way to eschew the label of feminist. What's wrong with aligning ourselves with the powers that brought us our current state of independence???

I am a Feminist.

Mignon said...

Women that denigrate feminism are just a part of the huge misogynist status quo. Same with women that denigrate working moms, stay-at-home moms, moms, women that choose not to have children, women that get abortions, and SO ON! When we can finally stop cutting down our sisters, we will make faster and bigger strides towards equality with our brothers. (I also don't like men being lumped as "the problem." The system, yes typically, but not always, run by men, is the problem and pointing a finger at men doesn't help us either.)

lizgwiz said...

Amen and well said!

Sars at Tomato Nation wrote a great essay a few years ago on the whole feminist labeling thing. It's a good read, too.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the love, Suebob. You know where my heart and my mind are, and while I know I've pissed off a lot of people, I'm glad you're not one of them.

Anyone who "knows" me - who has read more than a few entries - knows what I'm all about, which is doing exactly as I please and fighting for it if someone tries to stand in my way.

Kelly O said...

Rock the eff on, Suebob. (And don't even get me started on the Maternal Wall.)

Anonymous said...

AMEN, Suebob.

jess said...

Sing it, Sista!

I ahve been reading your blog since I randomized over here, and now I think I love you.

For any woman who doesn't think there is work to be done (in spite of all your fine statistics), think about this: a man never (OK, RARELY) asks himself just how on Earth he is going to be a father AND have his career at the same time.

Jessica - feminist since 1974 when my mom took me to my first "Women's Center" potluck dinner.

ByJane said...

Right on, sister. It makes me see red as well. I taught Freshman English for a number of years, and I was constantly having the "I'm No Feminist" argument with female engineering students and the like. It's a matter of branding, I think. We were too busy working for equality to bother with how the debate was being reframed for us.

Anonymous said...

You're the best, Suebob.

Here's the stat that puts a rhino-sized bug up my butt: 99% of the world's land is deeded to men. Land is power, life, everything. And it's owned by men.

And I can't even look at the line of presidents without gagging: all white. All male.


Anonymous said...

The loud, caustic, abrasive, militant "feminist" of today has a lot to learn from the true feminist from history. I will never call my self a feminist because, all historical data included, the term today has become far too loaded. It also is divisive. If you chose to ignore that, fine.......it doesn't change that. It's perfectly valid to be uncomfortable calling yourself a title that will typically label you in a very negative way. I certainly don't want to be lumped in with people who believe the world is so black and white that they can loudly and harshly make *these* kind of judgements on others.

I'm sick to death of self-proclaimed feminists feeling that they are so enlightened they can dictate who can believe what. If someone doesn't want to call themselves a feminist, that doesn't make them stupid, it means they believe differently than you. CALLING them stupid because they think for themselves is what makes the movement, as a whole, look bad, is a disgrace to our sisters who've gone before us, and it ultimately serves to opress women. being devisive is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I can't even understand this mentality of "If you don't believe exactly like me, YOU'RE WRONG! If you're a woman and don't call yourself a feminist, YOU'RE BAD". I just don't get it. But it's certainly not helping anything.

j.sterling said...

you are awesome and thank you for loving me just how i am. :)

radio show tonight- 7pmPST.. COME PLAY!

Christina said...

Couldn't agree more.

And of course, we women live longer, so having smaller pensions to draw on for retirement due to lower wages means we've a higher chance of ending up completely broke before we die.

meno said...

Good one suebob! How any woman would not want to be a feminist is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

and also,

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what you call yourself, to not take interest at all in the cause, or to think it insignificant, not worthwhile, or not part of your own life, particularly as a woman, is ignorant.

I was that (if you can believe it)-- honestly -- but I consider myself way more enlightened. And while I may not wave my bra in the air, I'm not afraid to open my mouth.

SUEB0B said...

Thanks everyone for the comments and the love. Eden, it rocks that your husband is also a feminist. I guess humanist is a good term, too. Lizgwig, thanks for the link.

One smarmy - you're right, maybe stupid was a little harsh. I still don't think it is wrong to make black and white judgements where the equality of all people is concerned. Oppressing women is wrong, 100 percent wrong, no matter what reason.

Where women are treated better, society works better for everyone. The countries with the highest standards of living are the countries that have made the greatest strides toward equality for women.

My word verification is mbiasd LOL. I guess I'm biased!

Perstephone said...

"Their sense of privilege makes the fur stand up on my neck." LOL at this!!!

Also, I think that the reason many of the statistics you gave exist because of women like this blogger you deleted from bloglines. I'm totally a feminist and I hope for a time when every woman is able to own that label and realize that they are only as limited by the word as they allow themselves to be.

Oh, and I'm a big fan of being heard by removing links/bloglines, so power to you!

Anonymous said...

sb, you are a patillion percent right.......opression is wrong all the time. and when we belittle those who may call themselves by another name but, deep down, believe as we do, we serve to opress. that's all I'm sayin'. I am not a fan of people saying they must pray at a certain church to see heaven. I hate it when I see someone say "You can't be X and be Y too!". You can refuse the feminist title, with as loaded as it's become in the past 20 or 30 years, and still believe in equal rights, all the time, for all people.


Suzanne said...

Amen, sister! I say it loud and proud all the time - I am a feminist.

Peevish said...

As a man, I think that women have it well enough. Men just have it too well. They need to be brought down a few pegs and then things will be about right.

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