I grew up playing soccer with boys wearing fish-printed jams (yes, I did).
From there I was an awkward tween and teen with my hair either in my face or in a ponytail most of the time. I then proceeded to blossom into a slightly more put together, women’s college attending, still tennis/soccer-loving adult feminist. In retrospect, given my mother’s leanings, I probably emerged from the womb -a feminist. Or so I thought….
For those of you who are unfamiliar (I won’t judge), it’s a little more complicated and nuanced to scholars, but feminism as pursued in mainstream U.S. society is advocacy of woman’s rights in terms of political, social and economic equality with men. I will leave the explanations of post feminism and the various waves for another time.
But today I am a feminist no longer. I quit.
I’m going to ASSume someone out there is asking – Why?
Well, thanks for asking. Let me offer a long-winded, blog-post length explanation.
My discontent began maybe five years ago. From that time, I don’t think a week has gone by without someone (including myself) complaining about a negative experience with a supervisor. As much as it pains me to say this, the majority of those supervisors were women.
Having a former life rooted in work and interest in gender and development, I have also seen the rights and needs of women from different minority groups get ignored in the pursuit of the larger goal of feminism. Take one for the team ladies.
I have even observed a good friend of mine being turned away from contributing something wonderful to a women’s organization just because her view of feminism is slightly different from theirs, and the norm.
Along those lines, I’ve noticed that many “feminists” that I have interacted with are not embodying those changes personally or professionally that they wish to see in society.
Finally, as a new mother of a son now, I question all the anti-male rhetoric of feminism because that alone won’t help me raise a thoughtful, respectful and kind man.
All of this in isolation means nada, but together it brings me back to two questions someone (a guy) asked me almost five years back, and that was – “What is the goal of feminism?” and “What do we mean when we say we want equality with men?”
The questions themselves were not head-scratchers at the time but it got me thinking. Thinking -yes I know, I was told to stop.
But what is the goal of feminism? Is it equality with men? Should it be? I’m not so sure anymore.
We have made significant strides in gaining access to C-suite-type opportunities in different sectors. Last I checked more girls in the U.S. attend college and get advanced degrees than men. Politics is still a boys club for the most part. But ladies like Hillary are paving the way and folks like Tina Fey, oops I mean Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are off-roading it for the sake of the GOP’s self-destructive behavior.
My larger point/question though here is – As a result of the feminist movement, are we better off as women now? Despite all of these inroads, are we happy? Is it just a matter of getting more, making more inroads? And if so, why am I hearing more general discontent, more and more about women instigated battles in the workplace and elsewhere that might not have happened before?
In some respects, I’m a little late to this debate. Three years to be exact.
I don’t deny that if we are seeking “equality to men” we have made some progress but we have a long way to go. I would NEVER want to diminish pioneers of feminism like Gloria Steinem whose book, The Revolution Within, pretty much changed my life. They have indeed sacrificed to give us opportunities that were out of reach before.
BUT what if it was never supposed to be about equality with men? What if that was the wrong target to begin with? What if saying equality with men is like comparing an apple with a tomato? The more I think about it, the more I think it is like trying to use a seashell to hear the ocean, when the entire OCEAN waits for you.
In other words, why do we limit ourselves when a whole new model can exist that allows all of us (including men if they want) to reach their fullest potential and be who we want to be? If we did, we could change so much more than we think for the better.
Anyway, for points mentioned in the rant above, I’ve decided that it’s time to quit mainstream feminism, and transform it into what I want it to be. Right now that is – fairness, respect, and kindness to ALL. Basically, I want something beyond just getting as much as a guy cause frankly, they have their own issues…..and hell, I want more than that for myself and others.
[my soapbox has fallen over. i’m on the ground, but I’m not smoking anything]
I will still continue to support folks out there who are being treated unfairly (including women and girls). But it won’t be because I’m a feminist.
In fairness and in solidarity, I am heartened to see a new gang of women making things their own and coming together to collaborate, learn and grow in their respective fields like Women 2.0 (for female tech entrepreneurs), Blogher (for lady bloggers) and something local I just heard about called Community in HER corner. All good stuff.
And along those lines, let’s figure out another term for tomboy. How about cool girl like me?
Speaking of cool girls and my earlier shout out to Hillary – check out how Hill punked the guys who put together a site called Texts from Hillary. I have to say that some of their stuff was pretty funny.