I am antifeminist.
It is perhaps more accurate to say that I am anti-extreme feminism, but saying that I am antifeminist has more dramatic hit.
Allow me to explain a thing or two about myself.
I am an eighteen-year-old female citizen of the United States. I took chemistry and calculus AB in high school (and I will add that I got a 4 on the AP calc exam). I will also add that I was in the jazz band, in a rhythm section which was otherwise made up of all guys (though to clarify I do play a rather girly instrument) and that I ran the paper for two years. I also grew up with a working mother who has a higher college degree than my father and than anyone else in her immediate family, and both my grandmothers have college degrees. I myself am going to college to study accounting and be an international student in Sweden. I have not simpered in the background and curled my hair and batted my eyelashes at boys while other girls ran around defying stereotypes, and I have not lacked for strong female role models. I am not uneducated, stunted, blighted, unprivileged or sheltered (okay, well, maybe a little bit, but not about women’s roles). That said, I cannot find it in me to be comfortable with a lot of extreme feminism.
The way I see it, feminism is no less oppressive than the chauvinism it originally sought to eliminate.
Feminists have their mantras. Don’t bow to men’s wishes. Do everything they do and do it better. Knock them off their pedestals.
I think there are secret addendums to those mantras. Don’t bow to men’s wishes, make them bow to yours. Do everything they do and do it better, and don’t let them do what you do better. Knock them off their pedestals and then stand where they stood and gloat at them. No.
Feminism borders on the belief of female superiority. I prefer to believe in equality.
One of the things I have learned this summer is similar to the message of A House Like a Lotus. To paraphrase, in the heart there is a little house and in this house there is a little space. There is as much space in this house as there is in all the world outside. There is room for everyone in the world to be who they are and more.
Guess what. Men are people too. They deserve a place in the lotus. There is room in the house for them as well. They are as they are and what they are as much as women are. And you have to let them be. Ultrafeminists, for whatever reason, do not like men to be who they are.
The other problem with feminists is that they do not want to let women be who they are (cue gasps of surprise and bewilderment; yes, I know exactly what I wrote).
While it is true that not every woman should be forced to be a June Cleaver, not every woman should be forced to be Murphy Brown either. Ultrafeminists abhor the idea that women should spend all their adult lives being housewives. Chauvinists of pre-feminist decades abhorred the idea that women should spend all their adult lives being career women. It’s a parallel. The ultrafeminists have created a Frankenstein as despicable as the one they wanted to defeat.
When feminism was first a thing, and Marlo Thomas took off her bra and Betty Friedan wrote her book, a lot of it was about not stereotyping women. Not categorizing them. Not putting them in a box. Unfortunately, being a career woman is a box too, and ultrafeminists like to stuff the entire female species in it.
I mentioned above that I grew up in a home with a working mother. My mother grew up in Minneapolis in a traditional, conservative, church-going home in which Dad went to work every day and Mom took care of the house and the children. Then she moved to Montana and got her English degree and became a teacher, and gradually drove west looking for a job. She finally found one in my desert Idaho hometown, met and married my father, and continued to work. She then started her master’s degree in German via a summer program at the University of California Santa Barbara, finally graduating almost a year before I was born. (That, I am told, was intentional.)
She taught German for eleven years in our Idaho town – until the spring she had my younger sister. I was not quite three. She quit her job, and for the next eleven years she was our mother. She continued to teach German to adults via Boise State University, a private adult language institute in Boise, and finally a private group who wished to continue their studies after the language institute closed. She also worked as a consultant for Usborne Books and was a medical transcriptionist for one of her adult students.
The summer before my freshman year of high school the German teacher decided to teach English instead. My mother went back to work and she has been teaching ever since. I had four wonderful years of the language from her. The same younger sister whose birth spurred her to quit teaching is now in her second year with our mom. She teaches dual-enrollment with Boise State and is hosting a German-American Partnership Program exchange starting this fall.
My mother has worn many different hats since the beginning of her working life. Teacher, then mother, then teacher again, with many more minor ones along the way. But even before I was born, when she was married to my dad, was she ever wholly in one box?
I think not.
My mother, as much as she likes to question herself, has always been as she is and what she is, and has been perfectly satisfied thusly. She has no regrets. And she has never, not once in her life, been stuffed into a box because of stereotypes. She has always done what she wanted to do. Not what society told her to do. And she has never subjected my father to what society told him he was, either. She has always let him be who he is. I am coming to realize that unconditional love has always been right under my nose.
That is the kind of woman I want to be – one who does not do what society tells her, and one who does not try to force other people to do what society told her they should do (got that?).
That is what is wrong with feminism. It is trying to order around the last creatures in the world who should be ordered around.
I was referring to humans, by the way.