I’m in a bad mood today. That’s actually pretty rare for me, but today it is what it is. I’m in a bad mood because some shit I wanted to happen fell apart over the past couple days. So instead of dealing with it head on, I’m going to go ahead and tell you some things that piss me off.
1. Women who balk at calling themselves “feminist.” I hate that shit. It doesn’t make you any less sexually attractive nor does it mean everyone will think you are a lesbian. And, for the record, let’s say it did? “I support women’s rights but I don’t really think of myself as a feminist…” Because you are afraid someone will think you have armpit hair? Jesus.
1a. Men who balk at calling themselves feminist.
2. People who tell me and the rest of society what they are allowed to think is funny.
3. People who nit pick the tiny battles and keep their mouths shut about the big ones.
Do I love the term feminist? I don’t. It doesn’t address the stock men have in feminism, which is to say that Equality is good for Everyone. I’ve always felt “Equalist” was more appropriate, but then again, someone might think I really love aspartame.
But that’s the thing. We get so hung up on jargon and slight offense. I get it. It’s easier to get pissed at Seth McFarlane for a (well done) production number than to rally around the complex and total tonnage of the lack of female equality in these here United States, not to mention the world.
Instead, I get pissed at Marissa Meyer who continuously fails to make shit better. A majorly high-profile CEO who seems intent on proving she is one of the boys. She took, like a four-second maternity leave and guess what? Doesn’t really like to call herself a feminist. Well, that’s fine. Because she fucking isn’t one. She could have made strides for working women, pushing for flexible schedules. She could have made the point that the average American maternity leave (or PATERNITY leave) for that matter is laughable. But she didn’t. She was so keen to prove that AS a woman she could function like a man. Maybe it didn’t occur to her that she’s their boss. So yeah, Marissa, go ahead and not call yourself a feminist. You’re just not one.
But if you don’t like calling yourself a feminist because someone MIGHT think you are a lesbian or that they might throw in the word “militant”, ain’t nobody got time for that. What if? What if somebody thinks of you as fundamentally less appealing to them because you call yourself a feminist? What happens then? That’s something you have to ask yourself. I can’t answer that for you. I answered it for myself: NOTHING I CARE ABOUT. Maybe there are some dudes out there that find me fundamentally less attractive because of all my messy opinions, but I don’t care. I married a dude who seems to enjoy my opinions and what do you know? He calls himself a feminist. AND, get this, he’s super secure in his sexuality. And guess what else? He’s happy being married to me. And I to him.
I remember about ten years ago I saw a feminist documentary, I regret to say, I can’t remember which one. And a woman who appeared in it said this (I’m paraphrasing because it was ten years ago.)
“When a woman says she doesn’t see herself as a feminist, I think, how can you not be?”
I usually add, HAVE YOU READ HANDMAID’S TALE???
My feminism is bold but simple.
1. I get the same rights, pay, and consideration as everybody else.
2. Men have absolutely as much investment in female equality. Men have to put up with a lot of bullshit too. This whole sexism thing hurts everybody. Men are expected to be strong all the time. They are expected to hide emotion, except good ol’ manly anger. Sadness, vulnerability? Not acceptable. Worse, when they enjoy things typically deemed “feminine” in nature, everybody starts questioning their sexuality which is just not even what I’m trying to say over here. My father loves the movie Steel Magnolias. He likes to bake breakfast casseroles. He also loves chopping up firewood and watching basketball. What does this mean? Nothing! Except I have an awesome Dad. My husband loves Elaine Stritch and football. I love nail polish and mob movies. Look at us! Being all 3-D.
3. Integrating traditionally female/feminine behaviors into places where traditionally male/masculine behaviors are accepted (i.e. the business world, film, academia, the medical profession,you know…modern Western society) makes the world a better place. What if there were more flexible schedules to accommodate working parents OR EVEN NON-PARENTS who just have a dream or two and also want to pay some bills and eat some food. What if empathy was a thing?
3a. I want “feminine” principles EQUAL to “masculine” principles. I don’t want to see masculine principles go away. Not at all. Just let me get my nurture on, too.
4. Birth control.
5. Women’s health, wellness, and treating the female body as a different entity, rather than something to be corrected.
6. Getting over periods. Menstruation isn’t something to be hidden, or ashamed of, nor is it a disease to be knocked into submission. Nor is it something I need to apologize for. Menstruating women bleed from their genitals on a monthly basis because their uterus figured out that a baby wasn’t going to happen so it kicks out an egg and the nutrient (ie blood) rich uterine lining. There it is. If you think that’s gross. That’s your problem, not mine. This is a natural force that 1. Regulates itself to other menstruating women (AMAZING!) 2. IS INFLUENCED BY THE GODDAMN MOON 3. Is necessary for , you know, YOU. Being born.
6a. To be perfectly honest, I want to live in a society where I get to say, “I’ve got my period guys. I’m thinking a little on the dark side today which means, let’s not have meetings. But let’s maybe go destroy some rickety policies that aren’t working very well anymore and then we might break early for a nap because my hormones are telling my my body needs rest.” THAT is harnessing feminine power. CREATE and DESTROY. Giving birth, making babies, art, food, that’s creation. Periods? Cleaning? Getting rid of the old and making way for the new? That’s destruction. And it’s all feminine. It scares the shit out of you, doesn’t it? Me too. It’s awesome.
7. I am not obligated to have a body that looks the way you want it to nor do I really want to talk about how it looks with acquaintances or strangers
8. I am not obligated to find EVERYTHING that could be construed as misogynist, or what have you, as offensive. I HATE BEING TOLD WHAT I CAN FIND FUNNY. As a feminist, I am not interested in being Content Police. I just want to get paid the same as a dude with my same job, I want to be able to gain or lose ten pounds without the world noticing, I want to walk down the street after I go to a bar at night without clutching my keys and praying not to get raped.
9. That’s right. Any girl you know who leaves a bar is at some point going to pray she doesn’t get raped. Put yourself in those shoes, whether they are stiletto or crocs. Imagine what that is like, to be regularly terrified of assault in a really real way, particularly when you are supposed to be having fun.
Now I walk out of this bar
And hope I don’t get raped on my way to my car.
10. I want to be able to wear whatever the hell I want without somebody having some sort of goddamn opinion about it whether it’s a predator or the pearl clutchers.
11. I want no one to ever again tell me to smile when I am walking down the street. “Come on, cutie. Smile, it’s not that bad.” Yes it is. Some dude I don’t know is telling me how to wear my face.
12. I don’t want to feel guilty about feeling confident when I’m not perfect. Talk about feminine. That is female dark side.
I am (voluntarily) in a career where looks and age play far more into my success than my talent does. I know this. I know this really well. I am perpetually in an adolescence where I am consistently too old or too young. Too ugly or too pretty. Too this or too that. Something to be harnessed, wrangled, fixed. I want to tell you that THANK GOD, this is limited to acting. The thing is, it’s not. I just happen to be in the one profession where nobody has to hide the reasons behind these kind of decisions. It’s kind of refreshing. In an excruciating painful way.
And if you think there isn’t a glass ceiling, or that the goofy shit that happens in sexual harassment videos doesn’t happen, or that women are culturally obligated not to react and experience life authentically, you are plain wrong. It’s not opinion. It’s fact.
So why am I not curled up in fetal position and crying in bed, or screaming at the top of my lungs and writing things on poster board and shouting in front of an official-looking building? Because I’m pretty awesome. But I also have a life to live. Up until now, I’ve always felt feminism is best lived by example.
Be awesome and the people will know that the awesomeness is within us all.
I suspect that isn’t as true as I once thought, what with all the trans vaginal ultrasounds. So while I plan on continuing my awesomeness agenda and frankly doing whatever the hell I want to do, IUD in place and brain fully-functioning, I think I want to do more because the conversation is just a mess. I mean, you guys, we’re gettin’ all mad about tv and shit, and meanwhile women in other countries are getting systematically raped and having acid thrown in their faces. FOR REAL. AND I STILL, I know this is nowhere near the horror of the rapes and the acid, I STILL DREAM of the day I can walk home from a bar by myself and not do the no rape prayer. Wow, wouldn’t that be great.
So, obviously I’ve got to figure some shit out. And damned if I might not watch an episode of American Dad while I do it. Roger is hilarious.
So take a deep breath and call yourself a feminist. We need all the awesome we can get.