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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A fairytale for those who believe feminism is unnecessary...

Along with eight other moderators, I run a page on Facebook called "Equality for Women". It's pretty small (only 2,800 fans), and we use it to raise awareness on women's rights.

A follower of the page posted a comment on our wall saying we should spend our time posting positive stories about women, not news items about how they're mistreated.

This follows a few days after a well-meaning (I hope) college student posted an op-ed that went viral saying feminism is no longer needed. I really hope that gentleman reads this.

Here was the response I posted on the page:

Someone just posted on our wall that I and the other mods should be using this page to promote positive stories about women, not stories about how they're mistreated.

So, here's a positive story:

A woman got up early and went to the gym. She wasn't harassed or hit on and was able to complete her workout.

She stopped at the pharmacy before work and picked up a few prescriptions, including birth control. The pharmacist didn't harass her, the medications were covered by her insurance, and she didn't feel ashamed to use it.

She spent her entire day at work and in public without once being harassed. Her boss and coworkers didn't condescend to her. They didn't believe she achieved her success because of sex nor did they attribute her failures to her being a woman. They treated her like a member of the team and paid her equal to her male coworkers. She was able to have a male mentor and mentor men junior to her without anyone batting an eye. When she disagreed, she wasn't called shrill. Her opinion was considered and weighed against other opinions on the basis of merit.

Because her company understands people have family obligations, she was able to breastfeed her child in the workplace after a few months of paid maternity leave, and now, she gets to leave work a bit early to pick her kid up from daycare because her company only asks she have their back (by doing her job), and they'll have her back. Her male co-worker took paternity leave in order for his wife to go back to her job, and everyone was fine with it. Amazingly, this all worked out for everyone.

She dropped her child off at her father's house, who agreed to watch his grandchild because she had obligations that evening. He never once raised her to believe she should limit herself because of gender, just to work hard and treat others with respect. He gave her a solid foundation to believe her character was the only thing stopping her, not her genitalia.

Her friend was recently raped. This is rare in their world because their society blames rapists rather victims, heavily-punishes the attacker, doesn't have harmful gender roles that devalue women, and teaches all to show respect. She was able to take her friend to the closest hospital, which was required to perform an abortion as if it were any other medical procedure. No one was against it as they understood it was her friend's body and therefore, her choice, regardless of the circumstances. There were no protestors outside, and her friend was not shamed for her choice.

She took her friend home and went to meet a man she had been dating at a restaurant. They had a great time, and although he offered to pay, she ended up picking up the tab because she wanted to treat him as he did for her, last time, and because they're adults. It didn't cross either of their minds that paying for the date meant sex was obligated nor did they haggle over chivalry. He did end up opening the door for her but only to be a nice, not because he's a man and expected to do so.

She picked up her kid, put them to bed, and spent 45 minutes knocking out some work so she could be caught up. She turned on the news to see Congress and the Senate (both of which are half-composed of women) had overwhelmingly reauthorized bills related to women's issues, not like way back in 2012 when women weren't even permitted to testify on birth control before all-male Congressional committees. The President, who just happened to be the first male president in three terms, signed the bills without a second thought.

She went to sleep, that night, knowing she was truly equal to men and that raising an issue with the rare sexist problem (in this world) wasn't met with accusations of hating men or believing women are better.

You know what we call this story? We call it a fairytale. If you want a fairytale, go watch the Disney Channel.

This page does highlight women who overcome great obstacles, but we're not going to play a game of pretend, either.

Women face many, many real problems in this world simply for being women, and our main objective is addressing those issues, not painting a rosy picture of society that implies the burden of equality is on the individual woman rather than all of us together.

Of course, this is only a fraction of what women actually deal with, but I think it's a good start.

Feminism is needed, not just for women but men, too. It's needed for everyone, and ignoring these issues isn't going to make them go away.

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  1. Nice post! I found myself getting carried away into this fantastic world of true, unquestioned gender equality. Question: why would you interpret a suggestion to focus on the positive to mean denying the negative? Does it have to be either/or? I propose a middle road, where visualizing and reminding ourselves of what gender equality looks like could help us stay motivated through the daily effort of birthing it into our patriarchal world. Ever hiked to the top of a 14,000-er? At 6,000 feet, the climb can feel pretty miserable, but those occasional glimpses of the top from the trail can work wonders on your motivation.

    One-sided focus, whether on the positive or the negative, is just that, one-sided. And even your fellow feminist readers recognize its diminished impact.

  2. Wait, where is this fabulous place? Sweden? The People's Republic of New England, circa 2085? A parallel universe?

    "You know what we call this story? We call it a fairytale."

    Oh crap. Just when I was getting excited...

    This was truly a gem, Charles. You're blog is going into my RSS feed.

  3. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and this post is spot on. Thank you.

  4. Most of that "fairytale" describes my life and most of the women I know, except the political part. I know it isn't like that for everyone, but it's an exaggeration to say that's a fairytale life that can't possibly exist.

  5. Nice sharing with this great information. Sometimes we can relate our lives to a fairytale. I can say fairytale is made out of experience excluding magic. And I agree to this, that feminism is needed not for women but also for men.

    motivational speaker for women


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