Monday, March 14, 2011

Most People are Feminists, I Think

I would say that the vast majority of women, and men, out there are feminists. Seriously, what are the basic tenets of feminism? NOW’s top six issues are abortion rights, promoting diversity, violence against women, lesbian rights, constitutional equality (aka the ERA), and economic justice. While I love NOW and wish Betty Friedan were my grandmother, I know that if I had been alive in the 1960s, I would’ve been a Shulamith Firestone follower. So honestly, I think NOW’s gotta get its priorities straight. Are all of the issues that NOW champions extremely important? Yes. Of course. I don’t want to take away from them. But if we had to narrow feminism down into only two basic categories, I would say they would be equal pay for equal work and to end violence against women.

Equal pay for equal work Unless someone is a complete and total never-bending reactionary, I think everyone nowadays believes that two people who do the same work deserve the same amount of money, regardless of ovaries. I was actually having this discussion with a girl in my school who is actually a complete and total never-bending reactionary, and even she agreed that equal pay should be given for equal work.

“Mr. A and Ms. B,” I said, naming two teachers at school. “They teach the same course, yield the same achievement from students, do the exact same job the exact same way. Why should Mr. A be paid more, simply because he’s male?”

“Well, yeah, but teaching doesn’t count,” she said. (What? Is teaching the only job that women can do? I never understood this one.)

“Fine then, Dr. M and Dr. F. Dr. M is male, Dr. F is female. They see the same patients and give the same antibiotics and do their jobs THE EXACT SAME WAY. Should Dr. F be paid less because she’s a woman?”

“I guess not,” she reluctantly agreed.

Women cannot get anywhere unless they are being paid the same as their male colleagues. If we’re always at a financial disadvantage to the men around us, how can we fight for our rights?

Violence against women Again, unless someone is a complete and total never-bending reactionary, I doubt they believe that women deserve to be abused. Even if they are totally reactionary, I really can’t imagine there’s any human being out there that believes that people should be abused because of their chromosome makeup. (Maybe I’m being naïve here, I don’t know.) Violence covers a lot: all the forms of rape and sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic abuse, etc. It’s impossible to completely end violence in general, let alone against women, but there are ways to prevent it.

My mother and I actually had this discussion a little while ago. “It’s hard to stop men from being abusive,” she said about domestic violence. “We have to teach girls and women to refuse to deal with it.” Girls should be educated that no matter what behavior they might see at home, their mothers shouldn’t have to deal with it, and neither should they. Boys should also be taught that no matter how their fathers treat their mothers, they should always treat women with respect.

If women are physically abused by men, there is no way that they can hope to become equal to them. Physical and sexual violence cannot be tolerated as something that happens, a fact of life that cannot be helped. I doubt anyone would say that a woman or man deserves to be abused in any form, whether rape or domestic violence.

Going on the premise that the two basic tenets of feminism are equal pay for equal work and ending violence against women, I really think that the vast majority of people out there are truly feminists. (I’m talking secular feminism here. Judaic feminism is an entirely different area.) People don’t want to admit it, of course; I really don’t know why the feminist movement has been so reviled in recent years, but it has been. Whatever the case, in their heart of hearts, I truly believe that most people agree with feminism.

The next step? Getting people to work for it.


  1. Yes, I doubt there's anyone who really thinks women should be abused--BUT, there are still non-feminists, people who believe that women's place is in the home. Google 'Ladies Against Feminism' if you don't believe me. *shudders*

  2. True that. I have encountered Ladies Against Feminism, although never actually read their twisted mindset. Sigh.