On Feminism

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Do you believe in the complete equality of men and women?

If you answered yes to that question, then according to AmIAFuckingFeminist.com, you’re a fucking feminist.

This simple question is meant to eradicate the stigma involved with feminism. If you answer “No” to this question, you look pretty stupid.

Last night I was talking to a guy who called me out for being a feminist. I don’t even think I was wearing my “feminist hat” at the time, but I must have said something about not wearing a bra. He asked me why I was “such a feminist,” even though I don’t consider myself to be “such” a feminist. I always thought I was more of just “a” feminist.

My reply: “Do you believe that men and women should have equal rights?” He paused.

“Not really,” he said.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I said. My jaw dropped.

A long conversation ensued. It contained utter disbelief and pure resentment on my part, and strong defense on his. I asked what he thought about a potential female president. I asked him about abortion and birth control. He agreed with me on all of these matters with little to no hesitation whatsoever.

“So… you’re a feminist.” He still insisted he wasn’t.

There is a problem with the definition of feminism and with the idea of what a feminist looks like and what she (or he?) believes in. Traditionally, we believe feminists are 70’s hippies that don’t shave their body hair. We believe feminists think that women are better than men, and that they should reign supreme in what is currently a male-dominated society. The modern movement rooted in websites like Jezebel and in media forms like episodes of Girls attempts to alter this preconceived notion. Now, feminism is all about the idea that everyone should be a feminist, because if you’re not, you sound like a huge asshole. It’s about proving how easy feminism is to understand and believe in as we strip its definition down into its skimpy Victoria’s Secret lingerie.

By doing this–by making feminism relatable–are we devaluing the concept? Should we be changing the ideas of feminism to accommodate a stubborn society, or should we be focusing on changing the stubborn society to legitimize females?

To me, it seems silly to try to encourage people to put a label on themselves that they historically haven’t been comfortable using. Because of websites like Am I A Fucking Feminist, people know what feminism is. But at the same time, I feel like we’re settling.

There’s a pretty good chance I sound really stupid right now. The chance to spread feminism? Why not take that by the reigns and run with it, right?! Any good girl lover would surely do that! It’s just that throughout my entire life, I was under the impression that I should feel proud to be a feminist–to be one of the few who are knowledgable about what women deserve and appreciate my role in society as a female. Maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe I’m just a victim to feminism, which, after all, is really just a word.

This nuanced-feminism would reply to my thoughts by saying that we aren’t changing the movement at all–that the stigma has always existed and has always been incorrect from its inception. But just because the stigma is incorrect does not mean that we cannot ignore it. The argument that movements like Am I A Fucking Feminist are trying to make is that feminism isn’t a “big deal” and it never has been; it simply stands for the respect of women that men typically always receive. I agree with this new perspective on feminism and I think it’s pretty cool. But if you don’t want to be considered a feminist, then I don’t know if I want you to be one, either. Does the point diminish when we have to change the outward nature of the movement to appeal more to the masses?

I also don’t know why we even use the word “feminist” anymore. Isn’t it more of an equal-ist? An everybody-ist?

The guy I was speaking to last night said that there are definite differences between men and women that we can’t ignore. We just aren’t smart enough as a society yet to figure out how to let that respectfully reflect in every day life. Interesting. Interesting, indeed.

Thoughts on feminism? GO!


On Chivalry

Recently, I’ve read a lot of online articles about chivalry. Some argue it’s dead, others argue it isn’t, and many say women are, in fact, the ones who’ve killed it. As someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities (and not as someone who doesn’t shave my legs, because I do, or as someone who is an unhygienic man-hater, which I am also not), I consider myself a feminist. But as someone who manipulated her first kiss so that it would be under a streetlight on New Year’s Eve, I also believe in classic romance and knight-in-shining-armor happy endings. Something I’ve struggled with all my life is figuring out where these two important and constant values find their balance.

Is it possible for me to be a feminist that believes in chivalry? Or am I, along with every other girl who was raised on a diet of Disney princess movies, the utmost contradiction?

First, I want to address the claim that chivalry is dead, because it definitely isn’t. It might be hard to find them, but guys who won’t let you open your own car door and pay for all of your meals still exist… they’re just really hard to find. We’re also at the age where girls aren’t looking for someone who is as chivalrous as he is attractive or as he is fun. And if we aren’t demanding it, guys aren’t going to go out of their way to do it. If we give ourselves to them and they don’t need to put in the effort to woo us, then why would they? It makes sense. Perhaps your guy is more chivalrous than you might think… he just hasn’t found his armor yet. He’s been too focused on riding the horse (haha).

When we get older and boys realize that we are god’s gift to planet earth, as we obviously are, maybe things will change. Chances are, actually, they will.

Chivalry is not necessarily degrading to women if it is done right. When it started, it was about the strength of men in comparison to that of women, displaying the qualities they have that we physically do not. I am definitely on the liberal side of most, if not all, social issues. Like, basically 100%. But it bothers me when feminists try to define themselves as feminists by saying that women are just as strong as men, or just as capable of carrying a 50 pound package from the mail room as a man would be. In truth, we are not. It’s simply not how we’re built. Men are made to be stronger, and that is a fact that, upon admittance, does not make me a bad feminist. It makes me someone that doesn’t ignore certain truths that some who refer to themselves as “feminists” often do. He isn’t holding a door open for you because he thinks you can’t do it yourself. He’s holding it open because, historically, and truthfully, it’s probably easier for him to do. Not a big deal.

However, the issue of paying for a woman is something completely different. My ex-boyfriend never let me pay for a single thing, ever. Rarely–and by “rarely” I mean once every couple of months–I was allowed to pay tip at a restaurant, and that was it. Concert tickets were split evenly–the only rule we agreed on. Of course, it’s nice to have someone pay for all of your shit. If one of my girlfriends paid for everything, it would be just as nice. But, in theory, he was making no more money than I was. We were both teenagers using our parents’ credit cards.

Once I started working, my views about this changed. Now, I don’t let guys pay for me. OK, fine, once in a while, I do. But I never let it happen unless I put up a real fight. Sometimes, guys are relentless. I think we have to realize that they aren’t trying to be degrading, and they aren’t trying to prove they are more powerful–fiscally or physically–than we are in any way, shape, or form. They’re just using a centuries-old tradition to show us that they’re worth it. Think of it this way: they feel like they have to prove something to you. They are men, not boys. Maybe we should take it as a compliment. Maybe I’m a shitty feminist. Thoughts?