Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thoughts on Feminism

Josh relayed a story last night that has me contemplating what in the world happened to the feminist movement. A woman in his office was talking about a book she recently read by a radio talk show host that was all about how wives are supposed to stay home and take care of their husbands. She shared how she got a friend of hers to read it who has now quit her job in order to make waiting on her husband her life's work. My feminist husband could barely keep from gagging.

I have a book that once belonged to my mother when she was a pastor's wife called Fascinating Womanhood. Sadly, this stuff is still alive and kicking. I think it should more aptly be named Manipulative Womanhood after reading it. Parts of it are so absurd as to be almost hilarious and parts of it are just sick (like when the author suggests wives should dress like little girls and model their own fashions after what they find in the little girls' section of the store - creepy!). The word "superior" is used repeatedly in reference to men . Wives are encouraged to pretend they are weak and stupid in order to make their husbands feel strong and smart and manly. :::insert puking noises here::: It seems to me like this book should be a relic of a sad past when women were oppressed and shoved into narrowly defined gender roles alongside their husband's narrowly defined gender roles. But conversations like the one my husband had with his coworker show just how prevalent these ideas still remain, in re-mixed form.

Something happened to feminism and it doesn't seem to be very popular anymore. Even in "progressive" circles, the sexual objectification of women is rampant and women's power is often linked with her ability to use her sexuality - something that is inherently degrading but openly embraced anyway. Rather than women being liberated from sexual objectification, it seems like men are increasingly becoming objectified in a similar manner to the dehumanization and degradation of all. It's not that there has been no progress in recent decades. But the trajectory toward true equality and liberation seems a bit stalled out at the moment.

I could speculate all day as to the why's and how's of all this. But I really hope that we see another shift in our culture - not just in the direction of equality, but also in the direction of human dignity. Feminism in its best form isn't so much about women as it is about the dignity and equality of everyone and the freedom to live beyond the confines of errantly imposed roles and expectations. It should liberate women and men to be the best version of themselves they can be, for the good of all.

1 comment:

Trissa said...

It very much worries me as well. I recently read a book called by Karina Gore Schiff, Al Gore's daughter, that highlighted nine women who had a huge impact on the development of our country. The book was incredibly encouraging to me until I finished and I felt like there just aren't women like that to look up to today (although upon further thought I realize there are: Nancy Pelosi, Ariana Huffington, and others).

Anyway, I think that women of this generation haven't had to suffer or have much hardship because of works of those who came before us. Unfortunately lack of suffering has made us unmotivated to end injustice because we are too complacent.

I think some people need black and white and the mindset that book sets forth is black and white. I truly believe that a women with any self confidence would consider it a bunch of crap, but those who already come from backgrounds where men dominated or where there was some type of abuse, this thinking fits their paradigm.

Also, the dressing like a little girl thing is super creepy! Is that so they can appeal to the pedophile in their husband?