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.
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