Maybe it’s having a wedding or being married and entering into a realm typically deemed for women, but I’m noticing a disturbing trend in feminists lately, especially those who are so outspoken against weddings, name changes, being a stay-at-home mom, being a housewife, etc. They say feminist women should not have weddings, should not change their names, should not stay at home to support a family.
Their message, in essence, is that if you want to be a feminist, you need to act more like a man.
Men don’t care about weddings, right? And they don’t change their names or give birth or stay home to support a family. (I’m bleeding sarcasm here to make a point.)
I see two problems with this mentality. First, there are a lot of misconceptions about feminism out there. I know, for example, The Undomestic Goddess (among many, many others) and I spent a lot of time at the beginning of our feminist blogging careers debunking the notion that all feminists are man-hating lesbians who don’t wear bras or shave. That view of feminism is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which because it chases people away from feminism. Many young women today don’t want anything to do with feminism (“I’m not a feminist but…” anyone?) because they don’t want to declare they are a feminist and be seen this way. Now, I’m not out to convert people to feminism by any means, but I think the sooner people open their eyes to the idea that feminism isn’t going to hurt you, the closer we will be to equality because more people will actively be fighting for it.
Similarly, the sooner people realize that feminism is (or should be, in my humble opinion) about women having the ability to make the same choices as men – a very subtle difference than women actually beingmore like men, but a difference nonetheless – the sooner the negative stigma about feminism will be dropped and the sooner people of all genders will jump on the feminist bandwagon.
But even more problematic to this thinking is the idea that a specific binary between men and women exists. The idea that anything “girly” is bad – as voiced by people telling boys they ‘throw like a girl” or are a “wuss” or “pansy” (among other, more colorful terms) as insults and reinforced by various feminists who believe that women falling into a sphere that was historically for women is a move against equal rights – is only hurting feminist efforts. We all need to realize – and reinforce in our daily lives – that just because women like it or do it doesn’t make something inherently bad or stupid or wimpy. This should go for if boys andgirls take interest. The more feminists tell other feminists they need to act more like men by not changing their names or becoming housewives or what have you, the more the idea that anything girly is bad is reinforced. It is the same thing as telling boys “they throw like a girl” as an insult. The exact same thing.
Which is why I am such a huge proponent of choice. Which is why I’ve spoken out so often about choices and how we really need to respect them, even if they’re not the choices we may make ourselves.
So, I say: If you want to be a feminist, act more like a person. And not just any person. Act more like the person you want to be. Others will see that in you and be inspired to follow suit.