07 March 2010

Oh what a feelin'. Peel me off the ceiling.

I read this post about why CJane isn't a feminist this morning.
Equality has never done any good for me. When I try to look at the world with my equalizer glasses it leaves me empty and upset. Equality presents a scale and binds you. And when I dissect my marriage, nothing makes me more anxious then the expectation that things are equal. It makes a measuring stick out of our relationship. And I don't want to spend an entire marriage judging the allowance of equality.

Speaking of my relationship, Chup will surely remind me that this is all semantics, so let me define equality (for me) : fairness.

And life is not fair. So how can it be equal?
I could have responded right away, but I am trying to stop swearing on my blog. I let it percolate in the back of my mind all day, simmering, simmering...

I finally decided I won't address her argument directly. I am sure that some of her 400+ commenters did that more succintly and intelligently than I might.

I do, however, want to make a few points as someone who is older than she is. Because I have memories from my own life about how hard women had to work for equality and what it was like before they did:

  • My 5th grade teacher actually took class time to read a list of all the ways men were superior to women. Back then that was ok. Because it was FUNNY! Ha ha! Because those uppity feminist bra-burners were trying to say women were equal, but everyone knew they weren't. He had a long list of ways men were superior to women (stronger, faster, smarter, bigger brains...)The only way, he said, women were superior was in their ability to withstand cold, because of their greater fat layer.

  • It was ok and funny for Jackie Gleason to threaten to punch his wife in the face on his show every week

  • It was legal for men to rape their wives

  • Rape survivors were put on trial for their sexuality, with the assumption being that they "led men on" or "asked for it." Because of this, most women didn't report being raped.

  • Police didn't get involved in domestic violence situations and there were no shelters for victims

  • At my junior high, girls could not take shop, and boys could not take home ec.

  • Girls were also excused from PE for 5 days a month due to menstruation

  • Phrases like "crazy woman driver" were commonly used

  • Women were thought to be too emotional and/or stupid to be judges, doctors, lawyers, ministers

  • When I called the only woman gynecologist in town to get birth control, the receptionist sharply told me that Dr. So-n-So "is here to bring babies into the world, not prevent them." Yes, she was an OB-GYN who did not provide birth control services at all.

  • Because my sister's school didn't offer regular sports teams for women - the assumption being that sports weren't important for women - she went to intramural girls' "Play Days" organized by the Girls Athletic Association.

  • I interviewed a college vice president who said that, as a young journalist, the only beat her newspaper would put her on was "society." Because that was the only beat fit for a woman.

  • The lack of safe abortion services were a major health crisis, with women dying or being seriously injured from illegal and self-induced abortions

  • Getting pregnant out of wedlock was a huge source of shame and young women were kicked out of school if they became pregnant

  • Women had a hard time getting credit without a man as a co-signer, preventing them from owning property or running a business.

If CJane wants to go back to those days, I wonder at her sanity.

Equal doesn't mean "the same." To me, equal means that we all have a chance to live our lives to the fullest and to express our talents and abilities as best we can, without being stopped from that by outside pressures brought to bear because we are one gender or another.

Equality for women is good for men as well as women. It isn't about taking from one to give to another. It's about creating a world that works for EVERYONE.

The best places to live on earth are those where women have the greatest equality. Those aren't just the best places for women. They are the best places for men and children and transgendered people, too. They have the best education, the best health care, are the most properous and the most stable.

Dusting off your pretty hands and saying "Equality - it just isn't for me," is a silly thing to say when you haven't experienced true inequality. If you think you don't believe in equality for women, go spend a couple months in Saudi Arabia and then get back to me.


Kim said...

Hoo boy. Someone wanted some attention today! That's one way to get it!

I am glad that my partner and I evaluate and re-evaluate our relationship on a regular basis to see how we're doing. I think it makes sure things are still running great.

CharmingDriver said...

All I can say to that is I am very glad she's not on my side because: DAYUM.

Hannah Mudge said...

Great post! I commented quite early on in Courtney's post and was interested (and shocked, appalled and disheartened) to see how the debate unfolded. Particularly when people started saying that they didn't know why everyone was getting so angry over it all :S It was good to see some other feminists among her readership though. I made a blog post which was sort of a response too.

Mir said...

Amen, Suebob.

I know many lovely Mormon ladies. Some of them I admire greatly. But Mormonism incorporates an inherent gender inequality that is spoon-fed to the women as godliness and virtue, and that -- coupled with a level of sheltering that is so complete that folks like like CJane don't even realize exactly how shielded from some of the world's realities they are -- is the perfect storm for one of them to innocently proclaim that they just don't understand why anyone would even want equality.

Needless to say, I don't agree with her. But damn, that level of naivete must be nice, huh?

Elan Morgan said...

Well said.

I have heard this "I'm not a feminist because" crap a lot lately, and it's driving me nuts. It comes from a blinkered and privileged position. Wage disparity between males and females is greater now than it was 20 years ago and access to gynecologic and reproductive health care has dropped. Do we still need feminism. Hell, yes! Women's rights were not a short fight that once won are a given. 100s and 1000s of years of oppression is not overturned within a century.

claire said...

I was going to add something along the lines of: "mumble, mumble, Mormon, mumble, mumble". But i see that's already been taken care of (and more eloquently).

I agree, Suebob, I definitely agree. However, I don't think you're going to change her mind with the birth control / abortion options / transgender points. Again, what with the Mormon.


angel apologist said...

Good points, well written, etc., etc., but what happened to the header with that handsome man???

Jessica said...

Oh, thank gawd I don't have to be the one to say, "Well, she lives in Utah, and isn't one of those pesky feminists, so I am assuming she's Mormon." I know it's bad to make generalizations, really, I do, but yeah, when dealing with fundamentalism, there is no way to have a debate. And Mir summed it up brilliantly.

We're in the middle of a backlash, and I blame it on the Tea Baggers. lol

thordora said...

gah. I don't necessarily always identify with feminism (and that's more of a third wave issue than anything else, and a long rant I won't bore you with here.)

that was a bunch of ick.

My daughters will never know a world where girls DON'T play Olympic Hockey. Or vote. Or go to school. Not if I can help it. That's fricken equality-and I'm a feminist by THOSE rules.

Vagina's are wasted on some people I swear.

dede said...

I don't think CJane has had enough experience in anything, and thus her screwy view. She is too young to have had to miss out on much because of her gender.

I totally agree with Thordora that Vaginas are often wasted on the wrong people.

Suzanne said...


Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Truthfully, I really did not know much of this. I am nearly 39, born in 1971 and I must have just missed this crap of which you write (I thought we were the same age!)

Good points and respectfully written. Sometimes, it is better to just write your own damned post instead of jumping into comment streams, eh?

Nance said...

Thank you Suebob. I find it still so very alarming that, in 2010, I still hear men say, "I can't go tonight because I have to stay home and babysit the kids. I NEVER let the opportunity go by without saying, very disingenuously, "Oh! Whose kids are you babysitting?" When they invariably answer, "Huh? Oh, mine." I say, "I don't understand. Who is paying you? What do you mean "babysitting?" How exactly do you "babysit" your very own children?"

How many times have you EVER EVER EVER heard a mother say that she is staying at home to BABYSIT her own children?



First, WE have to value and demand it. Obviously, some of us have some work to do.

Average Jane said...

I'm at the age where a lot of the improvements had already started to come to fruition. I was also extremely fortunate to have female forebears who insisted upon doing things that most women of their time just didn't do.

However, I remember my journalist grandmother telling me about being paid less than her male co-worker. When she complained, her boss said she had a husband to support her so she didn't need more money. She also spent much of her career in the "lifestyle" ghetto of the paper, although she managed to eventually break out.

I also remember my mother talking about having to deal with open sexual harassment from clients.

So yes, I am an unequivocal feminist and always have been.

Anjali said...

Great post. I am a proud feminist, who will consider myself a complete failure of a mother if my any of my three daughters ever tell me that they are not feminists.

mar said...

i read this earlier & couldn't comment, but came back via suzanne/cuss to read the comments.
i got all shivery (both angry & proud)
my mother applied for and passed the police exam with flying colors in, i believe 1974 and there was only one other woman at the time. it wasn't my grandmother & my father's concern for her safety that made her choose another path, but the harassment of her peers and superiors.
for that reason, & so many others, i am happy that we are no longer in that era, but there is so much more to change.

Carrie (in MN) said...

Hoo boy - well said! I haven't read the original post, but my absolute pet peeve is young women who take for granted all of the freedom they have that was won for them by their mothers and aunts.

Glennis said...

Right on, SueBob!!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Thank you for bringing this up, Suebob. I don't often read CJane because I don't really like it, and now I am sure I don't!

Very sheltered and naive, indeed.

Olivia said...

Absolutely! If "I am not a feminist because.." is followed by anything other than "I don't like women", then the person saying it is utterly naive.

ByJane said...

Right on, sister. I went to look at CJane's post and her commenters now total 600 plus. Judging by some of ones I glanced at, I think the entire Mormon priesthood is motivating her.

the new girl said...

WORD, Suebob.

Best last two lines of a post, EVAR.

Lucy said...


Hey, SueBob! I am on vacation so I finally have time to read your blog and breathe a little. I hope you and yours are doing well.


What an unfortunate piece of writing from the unequal marriage partner. If she wants to be less than her guy, that's her business, but must she oppress the rest of us? I am your age, so I remember your list very well. But let's face it, right now some guy is kicking the shit out of his girlfriend because he can. My neighbor's husband of 30 years just left her and she doesn't have the dough to keep renting the tiny house and she doesn't know where to go. And if a woman gets pregnant, whether she has the baby or not, who is responsible? Whose body? Whose money? Oh I am sorry I gotta go. My husband wants a blow job.

Kristen said...

I really like the comment "Azucar" left on Cjane's post. She summed up my feelings on the issue quite nicely. I'm different from, not worse/better/less/more than!

..."I think the trouble comes when [people] decide that "not equal" means worse than, less than, and value-less.

Different, not equal, is OK.
Worthless, not equal, is not OK.

And that's why I'm a feminist: because we're not less than.

And...I dislike being treated like I'm less than because I'm a woman. And I have been. I don't want girls growing up to think they're less than.

Then again, my dad brought all his kids on camping, adventures, and trips, because we're all worth the same. Different, but the same."

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