Thursday, October 1, 2009

My (very) Lengthy Opinion Piece on Feminism and the Modern Family

ˈfɛməˌnɪzəm/ [fem-uh-niz-uhm]

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

If only this was all feminism meant today.

There is no doubt that, at the time of the Women's Rights Movement, the cause was a very just one, and the movement was necessary. Women's Rights were, and are, worth fighting for. However, over time, the definitions have changed, as has the approach of Feminists themselves. In my opinion, they have largely lost sight of what “freedom”, “rights” & “choice” really mean.

I feel that Feminism (in the form of Feminists) enforces the idea of equality and liberation to the extent that they are actually impeding women from making any choice at all. The choice is: Work. Period.

Feminists (and in most cases, even women who don't consider themselves feminists in any way) will scoff at a woman who has decided (key word being DECIDED) to work in the home instead of outside it, as some ignorant, uneducated, barbariess. They ignore the CHOICE that was made, because in their mind, that wasn't the choice that was fought for. The Women's Rights movement fought for the female's ability to work, drive, vote, etc, so now any woman not taking FULL advantage of ALL of those “rights” is looked down upon, and any woman that vocally expresses a feeling or belief that women actually “belong” in the home is considered offensive, or at the least, “old-fashioned”. Furthermore, if a woman feels the call to stay home and raise her family, that choice is often a burden on the family because our society is now set up so that you need 2 incomes to survive (or at least thrive).

What these women are forgetting, or perhaps never realized, is that the liberation is in the CHOICE ITSELF, not the notion that one choice is more liberated than the other.

I find it extremely upsetting and ridiculous that it is now commonly believed that the role of a homemaker is not important; That raising your children yourself & directly influencing their minds, ethics and ideals, making sure they eat healthfully everyday, that they have a well-maintained and peaceful place to call home (and to establish their view of what a home should be), is somehow outdated and unnecessary. I am here to tell you, that I (and many others) DISAGREE with this notion. Greatly.

I believe both sexes take pleasure and pride from doing something that their spouse/partner is not naturally good at. A man feels proud when he opens a jar his wife can't (as a small scale example) or explains to her something about his work, his car, something she doesn't understand. If you can't lift a heavy box, does he get angry or frustrated with you? Of course not, he doesn't mind. Because he wants to be only person in the house that can lift that heavy box, he wants to sweat for you and show you he's a man (I know this seems primal, but we are more primal than we like to think).Just as a woman (admit it) feels pride in the fact that her man doesn't even know where to begin in the kitchen, or 'oohs' and 'aahs' at a meal she's prepared from scratch, or when she calms the baby when her husband can only make it scream louder. This system of mutual pride and respect for eachother's unique skills, in my opinion, breeds fulfillment and, believe it or not, happiness. Yes, people actually can be happy in a “traditional” home setting. In fact, from what I've seen, it's much more common than in what is considered the “conventional” family of today.

Does anyone really wonder why the divorce rates are so high? In my opinion, it can be largely attributed to the deterioration of traditional gender roles and of the family unit.

Now, I know to many this may seem like a contradiction of what we've all come to associate with the “traditional” family that existed up until the early 60s or so: happy husband, unhappy wife. We also seem to associate the fact that these women were unhappy with their roles as wives and mothers, the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, etc. This is a misconception.
Back in the days of the Women's Rights Movement, women actually had something to fight against. They were unhappy because they were oppressed, their opinions didn't matter, and they felt their husbands and the men in power wouldn't listen and didn't care. Their discontent (at least for some) was as a result of that oppression, the inability to choose, not the horribly drudgerous task of caring for their homes and their children. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. We are no longer oppressed, and thanks to those women, we now have the right to choose what path we want to take. Does that automatically mean I should want to be the CEO of a company or I'm somehow less of a liberated woman? Hell no. I take my right to drive and vote just as seriously as anyone else. That being said, I feel much more fulfilled in preparing a wholesome meal, cleaning an entire house in under 2 hours, or, silly as it may sound to some, having a drink and a kind ear ready for Dan when he walks in the door, than I ever could sitting behind a desk, or doing whatever else someone would consider fulfilling work.

The result of this deterioration is a society full of immasculated, unmotivated, purposeless men and over-stretched, exhausted & equally purposeless women who can't get through the day without Prozac or Paxil, and thank God for day-care and Mcdonald's. We have forced ourselves into a world where we do not belong, where we have to work 10x as hard to thrive, where (sorry) we can actually be a burden (many in the law enforcement and military fields have expressed this), and as a result, we've alienated the men and left them without purpose, without a role. After all, anything they can do, we can do better, right? Yeah, right. You won't catch me chopping wood anytime soon :P

And we haven't only alienated the men, but ourselves, by eliminating any and all of the unique skills we have that men do not instinctively have. How many girls do you know who claim, almost braggingly, that they “can't cook” or “don't clean”? I find this pathetic, not to mention imeasurably sad.

Ladies, ask yourself this. Think of the last time you found yourself performing a traditional gender role. Maybe you were at the cottage, and all the guys got up early to go fishing, and you and the other girls decided to go ahead and make breakfast. Now picture the moment when they walked through the door, saw the feast you prepared, and sat down to gorge with grunts of appreciation. Didn't it feel natural? Didn't you feel good about doing it? About yourself?

Think of the last time you took an interest in something your man is good at, really listened to him and then expressed how interesting and complicated it all seemed (teehee!). Didn't he glow with pride? Think of the last time he planted a big kiss on you between bites of something delicious. Didn't YOU glow with pride?

Now, think of the last time you both dragged yourselves in from work, paid the babysitter, and planted your work-weary asses on the couch to watch tv, exhausted and barely saying a word to eachother. Who takes the pride here? Who is taking care of whom in this particular situation? For those of us for whom fast-food isn't an option, who is making dinner? (Funnily enough, in most cases it would usually still be the woman making dinner. Interesting how we tend to fall back into natural gender roles even when we're “equal”, no?) That is one of the main positive dynamics of the “traditional” family unit. At the time of day that he is wilting, you can take care of him, and vice versa.

Maybe we're so wrapped up in our false pride, our need to portray ourselves as less submissive and more assertive, less feminine and more authoratative, less gentle and more professional, that we've lost sight of how to attain REAL pride, the pride that let's you sail through life, fulfilled, instead of constantly waiting for fulfillment to surface (which we all basically accept doesn't happen until after retirement anyway).

Today, we feel that as couples, we are more independant, we are able to have our own lives and not be “dependant” on eachother... but is that so? Or is it the opposite? Are you really both independant if you're leading the same lives? To me, when a man works and a woman stays at home, it gives them much more time and room to have their own hobbies and interests, and lead their own lives apart from eachother, then uniting at the end of the day to share their stories, thus creating a greater sense of love and unity overall. How can that happen if you both have the same lives, the same stories? I don't know, maybe I'm stretching now.

I guess my point is, while men and women are equal, we are not THE SAME. And, in my opinion, we're fooling ourselves to try to be the same, and have the same roles & goals in the world.

If you have an honest boyfriend, ask him one of these days (without guiding him towards a particular response), if he had the money, how would he feel about you staying home and performing the traditional woman's role? Really listen to his response, his body language, etc (most guys these days are probably a little scared to admit their true feelings on the subject). Then ask yourself the same question. You may be surprised at what you actually think and feel about the issue. Then again, you may not, but however you personally feel, please realize that other women may not feel the same way, and they deserve respect for their personal interpretation of womanhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment