This is an issue that has been on my mind lately for various reasons. It has repeatedly come to my attention in the past few weeks, like when I recently read this article about women now being allowed in combat. Or when I read the book “The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can’t Say,” which has a stupid name and some real problems in its writing and plenty that I don’t agree with, but is nevertheless an interesting read. Or when I read this blog post in which a woman wrote about how offended she was as a mother and infuriated as a feminist that her son’s preschool teacher was encouraging the little boys to be gentlemen. For real.
I have never identified myself as a feminist. I was lambasted by my professor in an undergraduate women’s writing course when I wrote a paper disagreeing with a feminist book we had to read (I don’t remember which book it was). Though I spent many years in school pursuing an advanced degree to become a psychologist, I always knew that what I really wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom.
So yes, feminism annoys me. Of course I want equal rights for women and men. I have three daughters for pete’s sake. But I think feminism takes things too far. Feminism comes across as angry and hostile and lawsuit-happy. And here are some more reasons I’m not a feminist:
1. I believe in equal rights for all people, not greater rights and entitlements for women (or any other group).
2. It is my fervent hope that women and men will never have equal pay (on average). We already have equal pay for doing the same job (according to the law). We will probably never have equal average pay, because women often choose to work fewer hours and at less demanding and dangerous jobs than men in order to be more available for their children. I hope this doesn’t change.
3. I think feminism is partly to blame for much of the “Mommy Wars” and “Mommy Guilt” women struggle with nowadays. Women of my generation have been inundated with the idea that it is our “duty” to follow in the footprints of the women who “forged the path” for us to have the opportunities we have today to work outside the home. If we don’t want to work and would rather stay home with our children, feminists view this as not living up to our potential. And all this stuff about “having it all,” i.e. working full time and being available for our children as much as we want or need to be while remaining gorgeous and stress free, is crap. I wish feminists would stop putting this junk out there so women can stop feeling guilty if they don’t live up to this impossible ideal.
4. I think Title 9 is bullshit. If you have to take away from or put down others in order to get what you want in life, you ought to reevaluate what you want in life. Of course women should have opportunities to play collegiate sports. They should not take away opportunities from men in order to do so. Also, see #1.
5. I think staying home to raise her children is the most important and fulfilling job a woman can do. I do not think that it is a waste of her intellectual abilities (though I too had to battle this feeling within myself when I stopped working).
*Note: Having said that, I want to clarify that I don’t think that working makes someone a bad mom, or less of a woman, or not important, or anything else like that. I’m all for a woman being able to choose what is right for her family, and I’m not trying to fan the “Working Mom vs. Stay-at-Home Mom” flames. I’m just trying to shoot down the feminist idea that a woman staying at home to take care of her children is “less” (important, fulfilled, smart, capable, etc.) than one who chooses to work.
6. Women and men (girls and boys) are different. On many levels. Period. Our differences are not just caused by the ways we are raised. I wish feminists would stop trying to say that we’re the same. The differences between men and women are a good thing.
7. Along those lines, I think chivalry is great. My girls will be encouraged to seek relationships with boys/men who are gentlemen. They won’t feel entitled to have a man open a door for them, nor will they feel offended when one does.
8. I don’t view women as victims, and I think it is harmful to my gender to continually harp on the idea that we’ve been oppressed and victimized. Women can be strong without needing to take away from or attack men.
9. I have every intention of raising my daughters to be strong, independent, loving, non-feminists. I will tell and show them that choosing to stay home with them is the best decision I have ever made. I will encourage them to pursue whatever goals they set for themselves, but I will also let them know that it’s okay for them to pursue their goals in stages and to plan for the possibility that they may someday want to leave their careers for a while to be home with their kids.
If I’m honest, I wish feminism would just go away. I don’t think it’s necessary, and in fact I think it is harmful to women and families (and men too). I think it just stirs up resentment among women and between women and men. Calling it “Women’s issues” or “The Women’s Movement” or whatever other name tries to present it as being representative of the views and needs and wants of all women is incorrect and annoying. It’s feminism. I am not a feminist. Are you?