The New F-Word
There are a few words that illicit some very visceral responses when heard in conversation or seen in print. Some of those words, however, when spoken, rise up within us, sometimes deliciously so, when we find the exact right word to use when we absolutely need it. Fuck! Asshole! Fucktard! The words roll off the tongue in a satisfying way, sometimes self-satisfying way; smug.
Those words were invented to express our most explosive emotional thoughts and feelings. Which is good, we need to release pent up frustration and emotion; yes it can be hurtful, deeply inappropriate and sometimes unwarranted but it is part of being human.
The new F word, in my opinion
But the new F word, in my opinion is Feminism, in past, condescendingly and patronizingly defined as whiny or needy, is fast approaching being exclusively described as radical, offensive, aggressive, in-your-face call to arms that has women who embrace its goals as self-interested to the point of exclusion of all else; and no acknowledgement it still is a positive endeavor to level the playing field. Look no further than the recent Women’s March on Washington earlier this year in response to President Donald Trump being elected, someone who, in short, unabashedly objectifies women, when social media lit up with claims of violence and rioting during the event, none of which was documented (officially or unofficially) or confirmed by officials in the state’s capital. In fact, Feminism has been described as female supremacy, not equality.
And perhaps not in the way you expect? Feminism, may I suggest, in its infancy was pretty easy to understand; Fem·i·nism: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social rights for women. In short, women wanted equal access to, vote, employment, property ownership and education.
While there has been success won on those fronts, the definition, or perhaps more accurately, the goals of Feminism has evoked new challenges. For instance, now that we are allowed to work, we also want the same wages and benefits, opportunities, voice, control and influence; free from gross generalizations that strong voiced, opinionated women are bitches, unladylike or butch. Sigh, more on that later.
Feminism is really just anti-menism
Now, I’m pretty sure there are many who were around for the first wave of Women’s rights who would laugh at the suggestion its “newly” offensive to use it, be it, or promote it; the struggles of the brave trailblazers who tenaciously stood their ground and those whose efforts will likely never be truly recognized in history books. But, the common complaint from men about modern day Feminism is “you already have that” or, “what more do you want?” In fact there are men who narcissistically discredit modern Feminism is the new anti-menism, man haters; women who don’t just want what men “have” , but want to eliminate or eviscerate men have, obviously different from women seeking equity, it being a grab at their “privilege”. How many of us have heard “white men are a dying breed” or “you can’t be a white man and get a job anymore”?
And doesn’t that premise answer itself? Privilege must exist in order to be felt and lost, doesn’t that substantiate it exists, therefore creating a need for….feminism?
My generation’s job was
to make sure it stuck
I get it, even when I started in the workplace; in larger organizations, the subtleties were almost imperceptible, especially if you weren’t looking for them. Something would happen and you would walk away with a slightly uncomfortable feeling and upon reflection you would think, hey, that wasn’t right. If you were brave enough and said something, it would get fixed, reluctantly, but it would. That was my world, the heavy lifting done by women who came before me; my job was to make sure it stuck.
Young women today have a few decades of stewardship of the values won by women over the last 100+ years. It really should be a resounding victory when I see a young woman gasp at the idea of naked women calendars in bosses’ offices when I started my career. It is a sign we have made a difference.
In absence of blatant sexism we can be relax; confident what is right will be forthcoming? Confident there is no chance there may be a subtle erosion of the gains we made by way of, appealing to our sense of fairness; undermining by minimizing or accusation of exaggerated demands; or a truly unfortunate situation of women who denounce feminism in order to fit in or get ahead.
Unfortunately we can’t just sit back and relax and here is why. There remains today a mindset that equality is a privilege, it is owned by someone and can be doled out in pieces, carefully measured so that the predominant owners remain in control.
It’s a compliment
Why else might modern women rebuff feminism? How about the Faye Weldon’s of the world who wrote: Why Feminism is bad for Two-Thirds of Women. Her position is it isn’t really that bad. I mean sexual harassment? It’s a compliment. Pay equity? You should be glad to have a job; in fact, your presence in the workforce divides a man’s wages in half. I haven’t dug deep enough into the abyss to find out what she bases that on? But she plays upon something we teach our girls. We are strong, we can thrive, we don’t need taking care of, and we don’t need someone else to be successful. So, why do we need feminism? We are perfectly capable of having a fulfilling life without depending on a man giving it to us? Correct? But who says equality is something to give or take?
Post-feminism, radical feminism,
No doubt, Feminism has evolved into what is described as waves; post-feminism, radical feminism, conservative feminism, socialist feminism, Anarcha-feminism, post-structural feminism, the list is long. All of these incarnations have built on the initial premise of equity and opportunity/expression, equally available to and neither enhanced nor denied by gender. These waves were borne from the first, modest wins, of women in the workforce, post-secondary institutes and boardrooms etc. They evolved to answer or address focused issues women feel are still relevant.
Back to today and where Feminism fits in to today’s society. I mentioned earlier it is has become popular to rebuff feminism, even if you are a woman. (We will get back to modern men later) In my experience there are a few reasons. For some young women, they have never known what it is like to be slapped on the ass in the office, fired because they object to it, (or worse) refused a job because they were of child bearing age or asked to get coffee for the boss. I admit myself so many incarnations of feminism is both hard to grapple and hard to justify.
Could it be just a visceral response to global
It plays into the minority of men still hate the idea they “have” to share the workplace, there are still men centric careers; be “sensitive” to women’s issues, and have to be polite and respectful. In a broad sense, I see a somewhat silent majority of men who see women as competition in the workplace; an “us vs them” mentality. If women are taking over the workplace where that does leave me? How many of us have heard the comment, “I’m a dying breed” from a Caucasian man? Maybe it’s one more thing to add to the laundry list of economic challenges we face as a whole, in terms of jobs, housing and cost of living in general. Is this just a visceral response to global economic vulnerability and it is perhaps now sorely affecting the gentry, Caucasian population.
You have your job,
now go away
You have your job now go away. If things were truly equal there would be no pay equity fights, we would not be subjected to passive aggressive objections to women “taking over” or beating a dead dog. It would not be referred to as Female Superiority by pundits; it would not be used as an insult, there would be no rolling of the eyes. When those are gone and erased from the faces of its opponents, we will be done, for now it seems, we are not done.