I recently saw a link to a blog post entitled ‘I am Not a Feminist and That’s Okay.’ The way my heart twisted and stomach sank because of the blatant misunderstandings about what feminism actually means let me know that I would soon be adding my voice to the dozens of other bloggers who are standing up against the misinformation propagated by this post. So, dear reader, sit down and buckle up because here. we. go.
(Also, a fair warning, I respond to frustration [i.e., twisted heart and sunk stomach] with [potentially poor] attempts at humor to lighten the [my own] mood.)
Amanda Jayne Sankey, the author of aforementioned blog post, begins by stating “I am not a feminist.” Which, I think is fine. It’s crushing to be a feminist. It’s a brutal way to analyze the society we live in. It is truly painful to realize how unequal things are for women in our society, from politics to the movie industry to the pay gap (the latter of which is the only thing that Amanda mentions and is only a teeny, tiny fraction of the feminist issue). And that’s not even branching into the gendercides that occur globally, or female genital mutilation, rape culture, or the atrocious abuses endured by women all over the world. It’s also not branching into the idea of gender equality across the board, allowing men to be emotionally equal with women or acknowledging the abuses and assaults that men suffer as well.
I truly wish it were as simple as Amanda paints the picture. I honest-to-goodness wish that feminism was about the pay gap. I think at that point, I, too, would feel comfortable hanging up my feminist hat and claiming that ‘It’s okay not to be a feminist.’ I wish that once the 19th Amendment was added, the feminist movement could be over because suffrage for a group in America is synonymous with equality and safety.
Amanda then brushes over ‘fourth wave feminism’ and seems to imply that first wave feminism was enough, without providing any insight into what waves one, two, three, or four are about. So, get ready for some serious fresh knowledge pouring forth from these furious feminist fingers. (also, some simplified knowledge because I’m no historian.)
First wave: Suffrage, in a word. Literally. The first wave was just the very beginning of analyzing the situation and gaining voting rights, which are, you know, our constitutional right OFFICIALLY, boo-yah. Second wave: Reproductive rights (like the right to birth control, because that was seriously illegal for the longest time ever, and remember, women didn’t even get to vote until 1920, so these laws weren’t put in place by women). The second wave was probably the most radical, and is where feminism gets a bit of a bad name because women-only groups were formed and protests were rampant. Third wave: Guys, women can be whatever they want to be. Maybe we don’t even need feminism anymore. Fourth wave: Yeah, that third movement was wrong cause things still aren’t equal, thank you very much. Let’s talk about some real problems, like rape culture, the notorious pay gap, slut-shaming, abortion and reproductive rights, media propaganda of unrealistic body types, maternity leave, gender equality in general, and all of those other problems I mentioned earlier because they’re still very much here despite the fact that we can vote.
Now that the history lesson is over, we can move on in analyzing Amanda’s misguided post. The next line reads “I don’t want the things these feminists are fighting for.” Cool. I’ve got some serious mad respect for Amanda for asserting her rights to refuse the things we’re fighting for. WE WANT YOU TO BE ABLE TO REFUSE THEM. THAT’S THE POINT. We want YOU, Amanda, to choose what YOU want to do. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom and nurture the crap out of your kids, that is so awesome and I respect you for that, just like I respect a mother who wants to work full-time at her career or a women who doesn’t want kids. I respect all y’alls choices. Now, the more serious side of the issue that Amanda doesn’t address in her post… I’m also fighting against rape, assault, abuse, genital mutilation, slut-shaming, etc. These are serious and dangerous issues. By giving a blanket statement of “I don’t want what you work for” Amanda is negating the very real and gritty side of feminism that deals with some terrible goings-on.
I agree with Amanda when she writes, “it is completely okay to choose to stay home and be a mother because that is the hardest job in the world. It is okay to like cooking. It is okay to take care of your husband and children. It is okay to want your boyfriend to ask for your father’s blessing before proposing to you. It is okay to take his last name.” And gosh darn it, Amanda, Feminists will have you believe these things. It is okay to do with your life what you want to do with it. Stay at home, work with kids, don’t have kids (I sound like a broken record player, please, please, please, please understand that feminism is not about ultra-powerful women, I don’t know how many different ways I can repeat myself).
I hesitate to even venture into the next few paragraph’s of Amanda’s post because I find them incredibly depressing…
In short, I will say this: if you do not want to submit to your husband… don’t. I’m honestly not even sure what this means. Like, is it advocating spousal rape? Because that’s definitely illegal. But, also, marriage is about partnership and you may need to on occasion submit to your husband’s wishes, just like he may, on occasion, need to submit to yours. Work it out amongst yourselves. I’m sure you’re all reasonable people with realistic expectations of your partner.
Have you gotten it yet? Like, you, reading this with your beautiful eyes? Feminists have taken this crushing, brutal, painful, pressure on because we care about all of you, even when you don’t care yourself. We want people to have the right to choose what to do with their life, whether’s that’s embracing the whole shebang or refusing it entirely. We want men and women to be safe, physically and emotionally, to have equal rights, and to be equally represented.
ALL OF YOU RAD PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE READING THIS: FEMINISM IS DOPE AND NECESSARY AND FOR LITERALLY EVERYONE.
Here’s a link to Amanda’s blog post: http://theodysseyonline.com/wku/it-is-okay-not-to-be-feminist/344023
And the article I summarized in my brief history of feminism: http://www.pacificu.edu/about-us/news-events/four-waves-feminism