Modern Day Feminism

feminismThe other day I witnessed one of ‘those’ scenes.  If you haven’t seen them in person, you’ve seen them in movies.  A woman is arguing vehemently about why something is sexist, and people around her are rolling their eyes.  Another feminist.

I’m a woman, and I believe in women’s rights.  I believe all women are strong, capable and equal.  I believe that of all people.  I’m luck to have been raised in a society that did not discriminate.  My high-school was multicultural, and the few openly gay students were not centered for being who they are.  Honestly, I didn’t really notice it.  I went through day to day, and because I wasn’t surrounded by hate, I found myself believing that most people felt this way.

But here I am, watching a short haired angry woman rant about the female barristers at my favorite coffee shop.  I got there all the time, and there’s five young women who are there all the time working.  They are not the only staff members, I’ve seen others, men and women, but they are obviously the full-timers.  And they’re adorable.  I live in a hipster type neighborhood, and the overly tattoo, red lipped, plaid wearing girls are very ‘in’ right now.  They got together and decided one day they were all going to dress up in very 60’s style dresses and hair, and work all dolled up.  The manager of this coffee shop, who happens to be male, said ‘go for it’.  Apparently that’s sexist.  This woman was livid that a male manager would make his all female staff dress up like this for work.

Now, I get her point.  If that were the case, wow, uncool dude.  But this poor man tried to explain that he hadn’t ever told them they had to look any other way than professional, and when they’d decided to add some flare to the very hip young establishment, he empowered them to do so.  Most of the customers thought it was adorable, and the atmosphere was light and fun.  When this woman started ranting, the barristers stood behind their manager, appalled that he was getting reamed out for something they’d decided to have fun with.

Here’s where feminism bugs me.  I believe that as a woman, I can be whoever I want to be.  I can achieve anything I want to achieve.  And dammit, if I want to be girly, sweet and fun then I have the right to be so.  Where did the idea of feminism turn into being less girly?

I have super long blond hair.  I love it.  I curl it, I straighten it, I do fancy up do’s – the point is that it’s very girl, does that make me anti-feminist?

I have so much respect for the women who came before me who fought for my rights; the right to be heard, the right to have a say.  I can’t imagine fighting the way they did.  I can’t imagine having to struggle the way they did just to be treated like… well, normal!  I know that their struggles, their unwillingness to give up, is why I have the life I do today, and why I have the right to choose.  I respect their fight, but I don’t believe that that fight is the same anymore.  Why are these girls being targeted for being themselves?  Why are they being targeted for wanting to look pretty and express themselves?  This woman, this ‘feminist’ as she calls herself, is not fighting the same fight.  She’s not fighting for rights.  She fighting against being ‘female’.  Being equal does not mean we have to appear like men.  It doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves onto their level.  Why wouldn’t you argue that men should become more like us?  Your ideas of feminism are against what the brave ladies before us fought for.  They weren’t fighting to not look the way they want, they were fighting for equality.  What you’re fighting for is conformity.  You want all women to conform to the ways of men.  That’s not winning, that’s taking a huge step backwards!

Now, you, feminist lady, have the right to express your opinion.  You have the right to be angry about thinking a male was forcing a sexist dress code on his female staff.  But you argued with blind abandon.  You didn’t care what the reality of the situation was, you cared about your point.  This five young ladies were excited to come in and have fun together.  They like their jobs, and their boss gives them the freedom to be themselves.  It’s a work environment that I would love to be part of.  When I worked at a movie theater, I went to my boss, a woman, and said ‘hey I have this great idea!’  She listened, said ‘that sounds like fun’, and gave me the go-ahead to make it happen.  Fan Favorites was born.

So I ask you this.  What is feminism today?  What does it mean?  What is the fight?  There are still inequalities in the world.  Men still get paid more than woman.  Men have a higher majority top jobs than women.  There are serious issues that can still be address and fought for.  My question is, why focus on issues of how a woman should look?  Isn’t the whole point that we should be allowed to look the way we want?

I went to film school.  Did you go to film school?  If you did, there is one thing we all share.  Film school is 90% male.  Why?  Is it because the film industry is sexist?  Absolutely not.  I worked hard and I was treated extremely well for it.  But it is naturally a male dominated industry.  That’s because women are not choosing to insert themselves into it.  Is that sexist?  No on is discriminating.  No one is saying ‘women can’t join’.  They just naturally don’t want too.

When I was growing up, my brother and I used to play barbies.  Yes, my brother.  If you met my brother now, he’s a foot taller than me and has arms as big as tree trunks.  He’s sort of…manly.  He’s extremely gentle and kind, and has a great sense of humor.  And he’s not gay.  My parents only cared about creativity.  If we were playing, we were imagining, and using our minds.  Because I was old, and let’s face it, a little bossy, we often played with my toys.  I loved dolls.  I loved them because they were like family.  But I also loved playing dress up.  We had a whole box full of costumes.  And mostly, I dressed up as a clown.  Not a princess, but a clown.  How sexually ambiguous can you get?  I painted my face white and black, and had a big white and black suit, with bright red hair.

In my opinion, sexism should not come into play at all.  When a child is growing, there should not be boy toys and girl toys, only toys.  If your daughter loves pink, then let her.  If she wants to be a princess, great.  If your son plays with Tonka trucks and wants to be batman, amazing.  But if the roles reverse, it’s not about girly or boy things, it’s about creativity and learning.  But I digress a little.  I don’t want to tell you how to raise your children.  I want to make you consider what equality means, and what we’re fighting for.  I’m all for the fight.  But I’m not going to fight just for the sake of fighting.  I fight for a reason and a direction.  I fight for the right to be me.

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