Monday, March 11, 2013

Maybe I am

I reserve the right to be a person who learns and grows at all times, and sometimes even changes her mind.

And I've been shocked lately to discover that I'm an angry feminist.  Maybe less angry than passionate, but the anger, it surfaces.

She knows I'm hilarious, even if everyone else missed the memo. #vscocam

It surfaces whenever I hear women judging other women, denying the existence of a gender gap, or worse, blaming it on women.  (This happened!  Last week!) It surfaces when I hear women defending egregious representation of women in media.  It surfaces when I see boys and girls being steered away from their interests and passions because they aren't considered gender appropriate.  It surfaces when the Captain is afraid somebody might think he likes the color pink.  It surfaces whenever I dip my toe into the sick world of sexualized clothing made for little girls right now.  It surfaces whenever I get a complement on "looking great for having four kids." (All the time, and I'm not mad at the people who say it, I'm mad that culturally, the first thing we notice and complement about a woman is her figure)  It surfaces whenever I try to find a model of healthy body image for an aging woman.

Because I've started seeing it. And once your eyes are opened it's everywhere.  This message that women are their bodies, that they are property without their own identity, that educating them is nice and good, but not as important as educating boys.  That women only exist as they are perceived by the male gaze.  That a single woman can't be present in a narrative without falling in love with a man. (Start subjecting your movies to the Bechdel test and you'll just about lose your mind you'll get so mad)

I'm angry at the voices that say a woman's place is in the home, and I'm angry at the voices that say women who stay home are choosing something inferior.  To apply something so excruciatingly personal and individual and start throwing blanket "shoulds" around is just ridiculous, but it's everywhere. I find I'm a feminist because I believe women should support other women in doing whatever good thing they are striving to do.  In fact, I  believe human beings should support other human beings in doing whatever good thing they are trying to do.  The "judge first, love last" model is not welcome here.

I want none of it.  I am serious.  I can't tolerate this thinking poisoning my daughter or my sons.  I want children who see human beings as human beings.  Who meet everyone on their own terms, with respect for their passions and gifts.  Who can tolerate a different point of view, and who welcome the increase in understanding it can bring.  Who understand unconditional love (can fathom unconditional love) and strive to experience it.  Who can see limitless potential in every person they ever encounter, and who hope everyone reaches it, and helps them to reach for it.

And increasingly, I see giant neon signs affixed to all sorts of horrific messages trying to assimilate into the culture I live in.  And I can't keep my mouth shut.  There's too many women in the world already who believe there are too many things they can't do.  And if the many instances that I shoot off my mouth make no difference to anyone else, at least they will show my children that their mother believed that there was no externally enforceable limit to what they could accomplish and love.  And so, I expect, I shall get on a great many people's nerves.  I'm finally angry enough that I don't care.

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