Sep 18, 2006

Do I Have to Call Myself a Feminist?


There have been a couple of times I have gotten frustrated with the way the term Feminist has become some kind of epithet, or even just a loaded word-- from those on both sides of the issue.

Rush Limbaugh and his coinage of the term, "Femi-Nazi" makes me laugh and hate him at the same time.

My question is this: What do I have to do to be called a feminist? Feminists often won't have me, because I actually do think that, when at all possible, a woman's place is In The Home. With her children. I actually think that kids need their own mom. This is coming from someone (me) who was a single parent and worked really really hard for a living for a while, and had to put her child in childcare-- and I think that Heavenly Father makes up the difference when you have to do this.

But why, oh why, would you do it willingly? I guess everyone is different, and there are a lot of different reasons why women need to work. Lots of them. So I don't judge any one individual-- I just take issue when people are offhanded about it, like "oh, it doesn't matter that much-- they'll learn to love their childcare givers, lots of kids have done it and it hasn't hurt them."

I think it does matter. Not just for them, but for us. Why should we miss out when we don't need to?

I think that motherhood is the ultimate act of creativity. You help someone become who they are supposed to become-- partially by molding them, and partially through sensitively helping them mold themselves.

And what is the reward at the end of the labor (which never really ends?) More possibly amazing people in the world, who also happen to be your good friends, usually.

On the other hand, there are lots of people who would call me a feminist. Lots. Which I'm OK with--- in my opinion,

feminism, the term itself should just mean an interest in the issues surrounding womanhood. A person who studies and takes an interest in women. Not a creepy interest, I guess I need to differentiate on that score. A real interest in women without an abusive agenda.

The hard thing is, I guess I do have to throw out some labels. If, for instance, someone invites me over to dinner, I do have to say, "by the way, we're vegetarian," if I don't want to offend them by not eating meat.

If someone asks me if I am a Christian, I say "yes." Because I believe in and worship Christ. But then I do have to throw out, "I am also Mormon." Because a lot of people would be misled by my saying I am a Christian, because lots of people think Mormons are not Christians. Which, by the way, is kind of silly.

If someone asks me if I'm a feminist, I have to also say "yes," because I do believe in equal rights between men and women, and I take an interest in womens' issues. I assume that's what people mean when they say feminist.

But a lot, and I mean a whole lot, of people that I know, are put off by this. Just as they are put off when I say that I'm liberal. But neither of those things is meant to infringe upon anyone else's rights at all. I simply believe what I believe, do my best to live my life that way, and I still like people who believe differently.

One long-standing friend of mine was somewhat taken-aback to hear that I was a democrat. He is a staunch republican. It's funny-- he threw the line at me about, if you're young and you're not a democrat, you don't have a heart. If you're old and you're not a republican, you don't have a brain.

Well, how about, I like you and you're my friend, so I have a heart AND a brain. Is that OK, Dr. B?


Just a slight vent. Thanks for listening.


Janell said...

I was seventeen when I was first asked if I was a feminist. I had no answer at the time, I hadn't really thought of it. Eventually I concluded that I'm not a feminist in the "men should bare babies too" or "women are men version 2.0" sort of way. I'm a feminist in a "I expect to be treated equally and allowed the same opportunities as men, and they as women." I think it is the first sort - the women who think that women are men, but better - that really make people use "feminist" as an execration or epithe." The extreme feminist sort are often hypocritical by practicing reverse discrimination. They often seem to say, "I can have a job, a family, and work from home and I can do your job better than you, but you can't."

A thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing your views =)

NoSurfGirl said...

I know what you mean by reverse discrimination. We were listening to an old Jazz tune yesterday, skywalker and I... it was a Louis Armstrong remake of a song traditionally sung by a woman about how her significant other is doing her wrong, and so she ups and bumps him off.

The funny thing is, Louis didn't redo the song as a man bumping off a woman, he told it from a third person perspective "he was doin' her wrong" and "she up and shot him with a gun" etc.

I asked Skywalker why he thought that Louis didn't just do the easy thing and reverse the roles, and Skywalker told me that it would probably have been considered really awful--- a man harming a woman because she has done him wrong is considered an awful crime.

Whereas, like in the DIxie Chix song about Earl Having To DIe, it's perfectly acceptable, even funny, to sing about a woman poisoning a man because he has been knocking her around.


thanks for your comment.

Janell said...

I never thought about the influence of music and media on views of feminism, but you're right, it is socially acceptable for a woman to relatiate against a man but not a man against a woman. It's one thing for a woman to instigate a divorce and another for a man to.


Lucy Stern said...

I wouldn't call myself a feminist but I do have interests of "women". I was able to stay at home with my children and it was my decision to do so. I could have continuted to work after giving child birth but I decided that it was better for me to raise my own children. I didn't join the church until seven years later. I knew several women who worked because they didn't want to stay home with the little "monsters". I had friends who worked so that they could get more material goods. They claimed that they were latch key kids and they turned out fine. I also had friends who had to work because they were single mothers and they had to support their families. I can not judge any of these women because of their choices. Heavenly Father will be their judge.

I can about womens issues, I'm not a total dummy. I can that when a woman has to work that she gets paid just as much as a man for the same job.

I do believe that men and women are wired differently and most men handle things better then women, and Most women can handle certain things better than men. I am not saying that this fits every sictuation. I believe we have different roles within the family. If makes me Not a feminist then that is what I am.

As a stay at home mom, I have helped my children develope in ways that a non stay at home mom can't do. I have helped my husband with his business, doing the invoicing, answering the phone, and other things. I have handled many calling. I have woren many hats and I wouldn't change a thing.

Am I a feminist, in some things maybe, but mostly no. I belive in womens right as an individual. I believe in fairness for women. I do not believe that I can do a job better than a man, just because I am a woman. My husband cleans the bathtub better than I do, so he cleans it. I do the check book better than him, so I do it. I handle things in areas where I am strong and my husband handles things in areas he is strong. WE compliment each other in the things that we do.

Thanks for an interesting post.

Garry said...

I think the word 'feminist' became an epithet to some when the word started to become associated (or even interchangable) with partisan political agendas on the left - mainly the pro-choice agenda, which is an intensely polarizing public policy issue.

Which is a shame, because feminism in its purest sense should, as nosurf indicates, should involve an objective discussion of traditional gender roles (including the concept of "womanhood"), and tolerance for varying viewpoints regarding those roles.

Kimberley said...

Firstly Thanks so very much for visiting and commenting on my blogg. Please stop by and leave your comments anytime. Secondly I agree with you. It was all most as if I were reading about myself, my situation, and my opinions. I think honestly that no matter where you stand on anything SOMEONE will have something to say, hence you can NOT make everyone happy so with that being said just make YOU happy! your what counts.

Sherpa said...

I agree with the previous comment that the term "feminist" has been hijacked.

I'm a feminist. Honestly, I've got more important things to worry about than a businesswoman trying to juggle her family and career. That's her decision to do that. However, I'm an advocate for equal opportunity. I've had men tell me to my face that I can't do my job, and I don't think that anyone should ever face that again...

About the song Earl and other earlier instances of when you hear songs about about women killing off their spouses, and not the other way around may be because domestic violence has been around since time began offing their wife was too real. Women offing their husbands or lovers was socially acceptable because it didn't happen as much and was more fantasy than reality? I'm just thinking outloud, but I wonder if that's where that originated from.

NoSurfGirl said...

I agree, Ruby G.

I guess a lot of things are that way, for that reason-- for instance, black people can make fun of white people, but it is absolutely unnaceptable the other way around.

It's a pendulum swing, I think... and I'll be happy when the pendulum ends up somewhere in the middle again, where it belongs-- hopefully when that happens, NONE of us will be treating each other poorly, instead of the other possibility-- that we'll all treat each other with disrespect.

texasblu said...

How about an old fashioned "feminist" - like the ladies that marched for the right to vote and all that? If I'm correct, this is how you are feminist - not in the liberal sense. Which, honestly, I think most women are. I am, and I am SO not a feminist - until you start talking to me about battered women and the like. Gets my dander up REAL quick!

Jeremy said...

I always thought feminists were silly and that the discrimination they complained about wasn't real. Then I got married and had 2 daughters (and another on the way). I notice a lot more stuff now than I did before. Now I'm one of the biggest feminists I know.

Great post.