The Feminine Mystique

“It is not enough for an individual to be loved and accepted by others, to be ‘adjusted’ to his culture.  He must take his existence seriously enough to make his own commitment to life, and to the future; he forfeits his existence by failing to fulfill his entire being.”

I finally got around to reading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, the ground-breaking book about how women have outgrown being simply housewives.  It was written in the 1960s, at a time when the majority of women were staying home to care for the family, and yet so much of what Friedan said is still relevant today.  The value of education, the necessity of maintaining your sense of self outside of your husband and children, the nature of humanity to keep moving forward and keep growing: these are not dated ideas.  If anything, the reality of these gets truer as the years go by.

I didn’t know much about this book when I first picked it up.  I had heard that it was important and an integral part of the feminist movement, so naturally, my interest was piqued, and when I saw it at the bookstore, I picked it up.  After it had sat at home on my bookshelf for a while, I finally got around to reading it, and then I was kicking myself for not opening it sooner.  From the first few pages, I was hooked.  I’m not a wife or mother, and I clearly don’t live in the 1950s and 60s, but the transcending ideas had taken over my brain, not to mention the amazing history of the movement I am glad to feel apart of.

I couldn’t help but tear up while reading the afterword, written years later by Friedan.  She talked about the impact her book had had and the work she had been doing since, including international gatherings and the creation of NOW (National Organization for Women).  She talked about how far we had come as women and as a society, and when that portion was written in 1993, she talked about how she didn’t think it would be long at all before the discussions of birth control and abortion were a thing of the past and we would even have a woman president shortly.  It saddens me that these are still prevalent issues, and that these matters which should have already been determined, leaving room for other issues, are still the focal points of just about every political platform.  This, to me, is unacceptable.  The oppression and taking away of rights has got to stop in order for us to continue moving forward as a society the way Friedan dreamed we would.

Whether you’re an active feminist, a casual observer, or have absolutely no idea what’s going on with it at all, I recommend this book 100%.  It gives wonderful insight into the evolution of mankind, the evolution of women, and women’s role in the large scope.  It introduces ideas that go beyond feminism, women and housewifery and opens up the mind to look beyond your own home and clearly see the world around you.

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Fauxmenisting

Fauxmenist:  Someone who claims to be a feminist, yet doesn’t seem to have any idea what that really means.  They are often heard putting men down, expecting special treatment, demanding to be put on a pedestal, or insisting that the world should be run solely by women and men should be underground and used strictly for breeding purposes.

I’m sure you know, or have at least come across one of these at some point or other in your life.  They’re often loud, obnoxious, and do nothing but hinder the cause they believe they’re fighting for.  It’s hard to believe that anyone takes these people seriously, and yet it’s their words that are always the first to be mentioned in an argument against feminism.  It’s because of them that people believe we have nothing left to be fighting for, since “all we want now is to be better, not equal.”

They’re everywhere, and they’re sneaky.  You’ll think that you have some common ground because they claim to share your values, but as that mask slowly comes off, you realize you’ve been supporting and had the support of someone who is unintentionally, but viciously, going against everything you stand for and fight for.

I scribbled this down on a notepad the other day while waiting for the train, and now that I’m re-reading it I realize just how much it sounds like a trailer for a really obnoxious horror movie.  However, despite how crazy I’m sounding, I still feel it requires repeating.

This is something that I am unfortunately dealing with on an almost daily basis, and my anger and bitterness towards it obviously shows.  It’s bad enough that I am constantly feeling bogged down by sexism, misogyny, and inequality every day of my life, but when I’m also up against people who are supposedly on my side, it’s frustrating, it’s angering, and it’s exhausting.

The truth of the matter is that we are in a constant battle, and in battle you need allies.  There is no way I would be where I am now without the support of those around me, the people at my side who share the same purposes and goals, with our hands on each other’s shoulders and our faces looking toward victory.  There are people in my life that support me, that I try to support in every way I can, and when I have a day or time of “fuck this, I’m done,” I know they’ll be there to pick up the slack, or even to pick me up and remind me why I continue on.

Then there are people who try to force themselves onto this team, who show camaraderie and get amped up by the idea of fighting the good fight, but have no idea what they’re actually doing.  I would not hand an AK-47 to an untrained civilian to go fight in a war, and I would not hand a megaphone to the fauxmenists to lead a movement.  In both of these situations, you’re likely to strike against your own side, hurt those you’re trying to help, and do a lot more damage than good that someone else will have to clean up after.

I’m not saying that we should just shut them up and leave them behind, but rather help them along.  Knowledge has power, and by educating these people on the purposes and goals that are truly worth fighting for and reminding them the reason for the fight, we have the potential to gain so much more emphasis and power, to not be fighting against ourselves rather than the enemy, and gain a louder, stronger voice to be heard by everyone.

Welcome to Adulthood

6 months ago, I got my first “grown-up job,” working in an office as opposed to a retail or customer service position.  About 3 weeks ago, I was involved in my first workplace sexual harassment case.  I’m just growing up so fast!  I feel like I could’ve done without this particular part of it though.

It wasn’t particularly traumatizing or horrible, just your basic creep that had to be dealt with, but there were other things that happened in the process.

Throughout the past couple weeks, the head of Human Resources met with me, him, supervisors, and several witnesses, most of us she even talked to twice.  Towards the end of the whole situation, a few things came to light, and in my final meeting with HR, I almost lost my job along with the guy I was fighting against.

After all the decisions had been finalized, I had my final follow-up with HR to wrap up the situation, and she proceeded to lecture me for about 20 minutes about my behavior.  I am well aware that I and everyone else should act a certain way, and at your job, you’re held to a higher standard, but this still rubbed me the wrong way.

It turns out the creep was almost let off the hook completely because I had joked around with him in the past.  Apparently if you’re friendly with someone, that means that all boundaries are gone and any inappropriate comments and behaviors are totally acceptable.

Let me tell you, I was absolutely livid, and I still get angry every time I think about it.  I have completely lost all respect for the Head of HR.  On one hand, I understand that she was just trying to do her job, but on the other hand, how dare she?  To imply, nay, to come right out and say, that friendly conversation with a co-worker is an open door to harassment including, but not limited to, hovering around my desk despite multiple people telling him to go away, constantly finding reasons to touch my shoulders, arms, and back, and making repeated comments about my boobs.

I know I’m new to this, but is this really how things work?  I know that there are plenty of people that share this attitude, which, in itself is downright disgusting.  I guess I just didn’t expect to see it from a person who deals with people and relations for a living.  Is this my official Welcome into Adulthood:  Realizing just how big and close to home the problems are that I’m fighting against?

So now, I’m facing a weird combination of being incredibly bummed and depressed about the state of the world, and being fired up and ready to take on anything that comes my way.  Maybe I won’t go down in history for being a revolutionary and maybe I can’t change the world, but damn me if I just sit down and give up.  That’s for sure not going to happen.

I’m Back!

Wow, has it really been 4 months?  Where have I been?  Sorry about the huge delay, between December and January, I both moved and got a new job, so my whole life was thrown out of sorts, and I’m finally getting some of my bearings back.  So where did I leave off?  Oh yes, I was going to discuss some of the ways that patriarchy is bad news for men as well as women.  In my last entry I was discussing the song Bait a Hook and how it says that the other man basically does not deserve love because he’s not a “backwoods boy” and, as the line in the song says, “He can’t even bait a hook.”  So that was one negative effect of patriarchy on men, the fact that they are molded into the macho stereotype, and if they vary from that, they are looked down on, considered less than a man, and called a woman as an insult.

Another way that men suffer from patriarchy is, thankfully, a topic that is becoming much more widespread and opening up a lot of questions, and it actually is having a positive impact on women’s struggles as well.  When people talk about how women shouldn’t “dress like sluts” because they’re going to get raped, they’re insulting men just as much, if not more, than women.  The idea that what a woman wears causes her to get raped is implying that men have absolutely no control over what they do and how they act, and frankly, if I were a man, I’d be very upset by that.  You are saying that as soon as a woman puts on a short skirt or shows any sort of cleavage at all, men cease to be human beings and turn into either animals completely driven by instinct or possessed by a demon of lust that takes over and controls their every move.

The fact is, saying that women get raped because they’re dressed like a slut is not criticizing women at all.  It’s completely and totally insulting to men, however.  I was never aware that men lose all control over who they are if I show any skin, so I wonder if they are aware of it.  Are they still aware of what’s happening when the Lust-Demon takes over, or do they just wake up to reality hours later not knowing what they’ve done or where they’ve gone.

If, however, there are men out there who can take action and defeat the Lust-Demon, then good for you, guys!  Apparently, not everybody has that power.  For those of us who are not subject to the Lust-Demon, but can see the problem, we still need to keep fighting.  We need to continue this battle against the overpowering Lust-Demon, along with the one who lords over him, the Devil of Patriarchy.

Because that guy…he’s a real asshole.

Bait a Hook

This song, Bait a Hook by Justin Moore, came out on the radio approximately a year ago, and ever since the first time I heard it, I’ve been completely outraged by it. The entire meaning behind the song is that unless a man is a rugged fisher, hunter, outdoorsman, macho, tough guy, he is unworthy of love and relationships.  This is just one example of how the patriarchal society is not just damaging to women, and the list does not end there.  Women are not the only ones who suffer and are victims of this.  Justin Moore, I lost a lot of respect for you since I heard this song.

And now, to introduce what’s happening next!

Many people judge feminists because they claim that the feminists are ignoring the men’s issues and are just trying to make it all about women.  While this is far from the truth, there’s no way better to prove this than to show it.  So I’m starting a new series of posts.  I’m not saying how long this will run for, but for the next period of time, I’m going to be covering the issues that men deal with in a patriarchal society and how feminism is for all gender equality, and not making women superior.

Why I’m Fighting

“You’re never going to change anyone’s mind, why are you even bothering?”

“There are other things that you could be fighting for that might actually be successful, maybe you should focus on one of those.”

“Oh, just another one of those crazy feminists, why don’t you just get over it?”

“You can vote and get a job, what more do you want?”

These are just a sampling of many of the things I’ve heard in my fight for women’s rights, so I thought I would take a moment to sit down and answer these questions and address some of the negativity I see every day.

“You’re never going to change anyone’s mind, why are you even bothering?”

Not everyone is as stubborn as you.  This is a movement that is growing and spreading across the country and across the world, so obviously we’re changing someone’s mind.  When provided with the facts of what is truly going on, it’s hard to believe that anyone’s mind wouldn’t be changed.

Even if I can’t change a single person’s mind, that’s not going to stop me, and since this flows into the next cynical question, I’m going to move on.

“There are things that you could be fighting for that might actually be successful, maybe you should focus on one of those.”

            “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”  ~Theodore Roosevelt.

I can’t guarantee my success in this venture, but I can guarantee that I’m going to give it my all, because to me, it’s worth it.  Yes, there are other causes that might be more successful than mine, there are other causes that some feel take precedence over mine, there are other causes that seem a lot worse than mine, but this is my fight.  You can’t tell me what’s important to me.  You can’t tell me what is or isn’t worth my fighting.  I have a multitude of reasons for standing with the feminist movement, some of them are personal experience, some of them are seeing how the world is and seeing what it could be if women weren’t constantly being shut down at every turn.  I see a girl who was almost killed because she wanted to go to school, I see a girl who is emotionally tortured, shamed, and put through endless ridicule because of her personal choices about her sexuality.  There are women beaten and killed because of their personal choices about their sexuality.  I see women controlled, oppressed, ridiculed, and so many other things every day, simply because they’re women.  These are things worth fighting for.  Don’t even try to tell me this fight isn’t worth it.

“Oh, just another one of those crazy feminists, why don’t you just get over it?”

This makes me so angry.  I fight for my right to be treated as an equal human being, and I get called crazy, or a bitch, or a silly woman.  I’m not trying to say that there aren’t crazy feminists out there.  There are.  The same way there are crazy every other type of person.  But simply because some people decide to take things to an extreme level does not mean that they or anyone else in the same fight doesn’t have a valid leg to stand on.  Please don’t try to belittle what I’m doing because either someone takes it too far or you don’t understand.

“You can vote and get a job, what more do you want?”

I want to be treated as an equal human being.  I want to make the same amount of money when I work the same job.  I want to not be judged, demeaned, treated a certain way simply because of the way I look.  I want to walk outside and not be scared that I’m going to be attacked strictly because of my sex.  When something does happen to me, I don’t want to be treated like it was my fault because of what I was wearing, what I had to drink, or where I was.  When something happens to me, I don’t want to be called a liar or a slut.  I want to have control over myself and my body.  I don’t want to be told that there are things I can or can’t do just because I’m a woman.  I want to have a place in this world, and I want that place to be where I determine it to be.  I want to be able to make my own decisions.  I want women around the world to not be treated like property.  I want to be treated like a human being, is that too much to ask?

So there you have it, this is why I continue to fight for women’s equal rights.  There are plenty of other reasons that I haven’t even listed, but rest assured I will get to that another day.  But now I ask, what are some questions you have been asked about why you continue to stand up for what’s right?  What are the reasons you continue to fight?

War on Women

What’s that?  The Republicans’ War on Women isn’t real?  We’re just making things up in order to be spiteful?  Oh yes, that’s exactly it.

Women still make approximately 77 cents to the dollar that men earn, and yet every single Republican Senator voted against the bill to rectify that.

We hear constant claims about “forcible” or “illegitimate” rape, with no word about what the other kind would be, implying that if you weren’t dragged into an alley by a stranger and beaten to within an inch of your life, what you went through doesn’t count.

These are just a few examples, for an extended list of the battles the GOP has waged on women, Stop The War on Women has given a great one here.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother, and why I don’t just forget about all of this bullshit, pack up and move to a deserted island.  Not that I think it’s pointless or that I shouldn’t bother, more that it just makes me so angry I want to just close my laptop and walk away.  The fact that it is almost 100 years after women earned the right to vote, and we’re still dealing with so many problems, it just makes me sick.  On top of that, there are so many people who don’t even realize there is a problem.  That’s more frightening than angering actually.

If so many people are turning a blind eye to the problem, how can we ever expect to get anywhere?