"A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men." —Gloria Steinem
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a friend anxious for a response. He’d included a file attachment for an advertisement featuring a woman he swears is someone we both used to know, but he doesn’t tell me who because he wants to know if I can see the resemblance on my own or if I think he’s just losing his mind. Immediately I can tell it’s an advertisement for a porn site. The girl is kneeling on a bed, legs spread, hair up; she’s wearing black lingerie, and the ad is clearly intended to be a link that will undoubtedly send me down a rabbit hole of hide and seek in an expensive (and futile) attempt to peer into her rabbit hole. It’s the kind of ad that frequently pops up in sidebars on sites when I’m looking for song lyrics, or free anything, and I skip over a dozen times a day without cognition. The only difference is that this woman IS our old friend. I’m pretty sure. Maybe. Well. Hmmmm. Yeah, that is definitely her. My gut reaction is, how sad. Then I immediately think, why? Why is that sad? Besides the fact that she was—likely still is—a smart girl, maybe so smart she cashed a few checks thanks to her universally attractive appearance, and why the hell not!? Who am I to judge? More power to her, though I would never do that, so do I really feel accepting of it or am I just trying to resist the status quo of “respectable” careers? These are the conundrums that gridlock my thoughts for hours on end. Where I ended up was on thoughts of a fellow writer who recently “dared” me to write a blog post on feminism, which I’ve decided is directly applicable to the confusing disappointment in seeing an old friend making money with her body rather than her mind, though I am grateful that she’s free to do so on her own terms, so here we go…
The fact that feminism has to exist at all pisses me off. How unbelievably absurd is it that we have to fight for legislation advocating social, political, and all other rights of women to be equal to those of men?Unfortunately, we do still need to fight for said legislation. Therefore, I am proud to call myself a feminist. Not because I hate men or think I’m superior to them, which are the supposed mindsets often inaccurately attached to that label, but because we each have attributes that function best when complimented by the other. In short, we’re all more likely to thrive when we work as a team.
I don’t think the shit-storm of inequality women are still dealing with has anything to do with male vs. female intellect or physical strength. It’s rooted in the rise of class society and the greedy few (currently referred to as the 1 percent) needing to enslave men to do their bidding, and part of that process involved cutting off man's right arm (i.e. oppressing his female counterpart), so man would become dependent on a trickle-down system of survival, resulting in the evolution of the gender inequality that women are dealing with all over the world today. (I’m teetering on the edge of a bottomless cliff now, one small gust of wind away from a 200 page dissertation on Marxism, so I’m going to attempt to reign this in.)
Being so aware of how much women are suffering all over the world—far more than women in the U.S., makes it hard to complain, but isn’t that just another form of social conditioning? “Shut up because someone somewhere has it worse!” Yes, I’m grateful that I’m not afraid of having acid thrown in my face for turning down a marriage proposal. I’m grateful I chose who I married, and will never be stoned to death or murdered in an “honor" killing if I get divorced or are raped by a family member and get pregnant out of wedlock. I’m grateful that I was never sold into sex slavery. I can have as many children as I want or none at all. I have multiple college degrees. I can vote. I can pursue any career I choose, and if I decide mid-stride that I don’t like it I can choose another. And I can say pretty much anything I damn well please to anyone without fear of imprisonment, but I am also aware that the last one is due in part to the color of my skin, and that brings me full circle to the serious issues women are still dealing with in the United States.
Most importantly, women are not equal among each other. I don’t see skin color, but many women do and I see them. The ignorant haters are on my radar and they are abundant. Despite The Equal Pay Act of 1963, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, we’re still fighting for equal pay, equal grants for education and scholarships; we’re still fighting for elected officials who will pass legislation that’s in our best interest—most often regarding domestic violence, reproductive rights, and healthcare. And frankly, when elected officials are spewing profound ignorance such as, in regard to pregnancies resulting from rape, “The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” and “It is something that God intended to happen,” (Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively). I can’t help but wonder where the hell these men were educated—a highway rest stop bathroom!? Especially unfortunate is that these comments were recent and are stellar examples of how far our society still has to go.
And don’t even get me started on Iowa’s (nearly failed, but mostly successful) attempt to ban state funded abortions for low-income women who were raped, whose life is at stake, or who are carrying a baby with severe genetic abnormalities, that resulted in giving the governor (yet again, a Republican, with no medical background whatsoever) the power to personally decide on the validity of applicants who apply for Medicaid funding for safe abortion care. :\ Reading news like this makes me feel like I’m living in an episode of The Twilight Zone or maybe Sliders and the last rotating door I passed through was actually a wormhole that spit me out in a parallel universe. I better quit before I start sounding like a Republican.
Back to The Twilight Zone...Until the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare, most insurance companies covered erectile dysfunction drugs, erection devices, penile implants, vasectomies, and circumcisions, but NOT birth control.
31 States Allow Rapists Custody and Visitation Rights! Coupled with a myriad of anti-abortion laws, raped women are ultimately forced to have the child then tethered to the rapist for life. No, I’m not talking about Asia or the Middle East. This is happening in the U.S., people. Please take a moment to let the magnitude of that settle in. How does legislation like this Ever get passed? How!? Women are clearly not familiar enough with the inside of a voting booth. And the men deciding on our fate sincerely believe the aforementioned ignorance and isms such as, “She was asking for it.” And I find it completely im-poss-i-ble to believe that if a man was dragged into an alley by another man and sodomized that his assailant could be set free because the attacked man was considered to be “asking for it” by walking down the street shirtless or wearing shorts hanging so low his pubes were puffed over the waistline—a wardrobe malfunction I see far too often because I live near a beach, but makes a stellar point.
So what can this generation of women do to bolster what's being referred to as the third wave of feminism in the United States? Vote. It matters. Women dedicated their lives and were repeatedly assaulted and imprisoned to give us that right. We need to raise our children by example to embrace equality between genders and races. Prepare, support, and inspire our daughters to have and be proud of intellectual pursuits.
Educate our friends. Care. Be the type of friend we want to have. Exchange quantity for quality so we can become an active participant in our friends lives, instead of a half present bystander or sneering spectator of many. Be genuinely proud of our friends’ successes and supportive, or at least respectful, through their failures. Especially in circumstances where your perception of failure may be starkly different, such as discovering a friend is advertising porn, which they may view as a positive move in the right direction for their career aspirations. Whatever the case, treating each other poorly does not set a good example for men.
“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." ― Madeleine Albright
Be emotionally self sufficient—don’t depend on a spouse and/or children for sole sense of purpose and personal happiness. Contribute to your community. Give back as much as you get from others whenever possible, and begin adopting a community mentality in every aspect of life. Barter. Become more dependent on your network than the greedy giant sitting smugly at the top of the ladder holding the purse strings. And most importantly, educate the men in your life. Talk to them about the world and unjust laws directed at women in your state. It’s alarming how many men are simply not informed on these issues and are supportive of equality when the truth comes to light.
Also, Free Your Man. In many ways they are as enslaved by our greed-driven societal construct as we are, and misery loves company. The men (and groups) crafting the laws that make life harder for women are often miserable, misguided human beings themselves. They get up at dawn and slog off to 9-5 jobs they hate, losing just as much time with their children, spouses, friends, and personal pursuits as we do. They are enslaved to bettering someone else’s life (the 1 percent) far more than yours, and the 1 percent want our men to be too busy buying us a bigger house, nicer car, and useless trinkets and bobbles to spend time freeing women from gender-biased constraints. If we are free to function as equals, working toward mutual goals and the things that really matter, we'll all become less dependent on the trickle down economy, and we'll have more time for personal pursuits and maintaining means of self-sustainable living. We need to free the men to free ourselves. We need to free each other.