September 2, 2011
The trouble with turning 50, is that while life seems to go by in a blink,there are a hell of a lot of them in five decades. You start to get fuzzy about small details, and things tend to blend into each other. You know you did things…but can forget exactly why. It was like that for me and feminism. I never stopped believing in equality…I never stopped hoping there would be a way to abolish the double standards. One day, I woke up and there were more girls in college than boys…and suddenly I started reading about how depressed young men are because they feel they can’t compete with the girls. And of course…”feminism” got the blame.
I remember when I just stopped identifying myself as a feminist—not because I lost my faith in it, but because I was simply exhausted by being fought about it. Overly smug males would explain that feminism had destroyed the American Family…ignoring the impact of the Playboy mentality on the same culture. Hugh Hefner made a cult following by telling men that Single Life was groovy. long before the “bra burners” showed up. Playboy was being published for almost a decade longer than Ms. Magazine…but no…that didn’t change anything, right?
Even among feminists, I found myself fighting. There was a small faction that were certain they knew how feminists were “supposed” to think. Any deviation made you a gender traitor, and friend of the “enemy”. I didn’t reject the patriarchal culture and standards so someone ELSE could tell me how to think. act, or believe. Andrea Dworkin never spoke for me, or many others…but she was controversial, and colorful, and could be counted upon to say things like “All penetration is rape.” So viola…after a decade, the work of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Shulamith Firestone…all the pioneers was lost to infighting and fear of being branded a dyke.
The Dyke part didn’t really bother me. I knew who I was sexually, and if people wanted to think something else, I couldn’t stop them. But the arguments—the insistence that there was ONLY one way to think? That’s when I stopped calling myself a feminist. I held out as long as I could…but in the end I was as angry and disgusted with the “sisters” as I had been with the “fathers”. Worse…there were huge numbers of women who thought all the battles had been won. That no further action was needed. The Equal Rights Amendment languished…and instead of Equality we got Octomom, Kate Gosselin, and Girls Gone Wild.
We used to think that “leg shaving” was sexist. Now our daughters remove their pubic hair to be stylish. People are turning their young daughters INTO Barbies, instead of just playing with them . Women are putting toddlers into Booty Shorts, and think it’s cute. We still don’t make the same money as men for the same labor, and no matter WHAT Time magazine says, we still end up doing most of the drudge work. Young women (painfully young) are not only having sex, but are having babies as a result. The MTV show, 16 and Pregnant features an endless stream of young girls who somehow believe that having their baby will end up with marriage and stability…when 80 percent of the young dads leave their children’s lives.
Women like Michelle Bachmann trash feminism at every turn…yet without it, she would probably never have seen Congress…much less had a shot at the White House.
Instead of better, safer methods of birth control, we have fewer options than ever…but end up catching the blame if we get pregnant. And of course, the same forces that are trying to make abortion illegal again, irrationally oppose birth control. They snarl about how women “should keep their legs closed”, but not a peep about men abstaining. Sauce for the Goose, I always say…but that’s heresy too.
I’m tired of fighting other people about how I am “supposed to think”. But I find the current world a sad place to be a woman…