As you might have noticed, I am of the female persuasion. I also happen to be lucky enough to live in a period of history in which the weaker, fairer sex is allowed to disseminate thoughts, opinions and troves of animated GIFs on the Internet superhighway.
What a time to be alive.
With those facts now established, let us come to the point. I am disturbed. I have been disturbed since this flashed across the screen of my computing machine. For those who’ve maxed out their free New York Times articles for the month, allow me to sum up, using words smaller than “lesson in semiotics”: Feminism, laden with decades of baggage bestowed on it by both genders, is a frightening term that has spooked some young womanly famous persons back into their hidey holes.
Coming on the heels of #YesAllWomen, this is troubling to me. It troubles me that there are childbearing humans who object to a descriptor of a movement designed solely for their benefit. Because to be clear, let’s just pause to define feminism.
1) the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
2) organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.
That’s straight from Merriam-Webster, which in these fractured times, I believe, is the only institution besides Bruce Springsteen whose judgment we still universally trust.
That is feminism’s definition, but it is not its connotation, which has become so burdensome its invention and evolution needs a Morley Safer expose. No, no, to a certain troublingly ample segment of the population, a feminist is as follows: a bra-burning, man-hating fembot bent on nothing less than the singular destruction of all that is holy and Hooters’ chicken wings.
Some women just want to watch the potpourri burn.
After much research, reflection and analysis of hyperventilating Internet commenters, I have come up with the completest picture possible of the image that the Statler and Waldorfs of social causes conjure up when presented with the term “feminism.”
Picture it: Season 1, Episode 9 of
the defining sitcom of our age Boy Meets World. In “Class Pre-Union” Mr. Feeny is up to his unending-torment hijinks again when he asks the class to come up with what their life would be like in 20 years. The A plot is all about Cory vs. Feeny on his failure to plan ahead. The historical and sociological importance of this episode, however, comes from Topanga, as always. Here, kooky, pre-hair-straightener Topanga has shown up in a toga and declared herself president of a more utopian United States. Why? “We moved all men underground and use them just for breeding.”
This is the Faustian bargain implied: the rise of women must mean the demise of men. For we can make toilets play music and wild animals pick winners of our sporting events, but it would be impossible to conceive a world in which both halves of the populace were given the same shot at a college education or a modest, middle-class income without instituting quotas or relying on funded STEM initiatives. It’s probably because of boobs. Everything always is.
Heaven help us if those crazy broads ever get the vote: they might just start electing their own kind. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahahahaha.
Are you ready to discuss what self-identifying as a feminist actually means? Sure, feminists are people who Lean In, but also people who Recline, who Totter, and those of us who coalesce under the banner of the Prone Woman. Notice I said people. Straight men are people and can be feminists too. In fact they should if they want to be considered dateable. (Gay men are, by and large, bra burners without my nudging.)
Feminists can get married (to whomever they choose in some states!*). Feminists can have babies (if they’re a female feminist or Arnold Schwarzenegger!). Feminists can even operate motor vehicles. All feministy women desire is the right to make decisions about our lives with the same freedom as our male counterparts. It would also be nice if mechanics deflated the dollar signs twinkling in their eyes when we walk in; I know my car does not need that much service. And maybe fewer cat calls, too. That’d be great.
Here is where, if I had any, I would respond to some fan mail. Instead, I’m going to respond to the comments section of this pearl-clutching (yet worth listening to because we respect opinions that are punctuated correctly) piece from National Review. Shall we?
“… female liberation is defined as guiltless promiscuity …”
I believe you’re mixing up the concept of “female liberation” with “the whole of human history.” If I’m remembering my methodic watching of The Tudors correctly, Henry VIII broke off the shackles of his papal imprisonment so he could wed, bed and ultimately destroy (mostly not in that order) as many women as he pleased. Dude had like 87 concubines and more than one decapitated wife. He was a man.
Julius Caesar? “Liberating” people right and left. See also: slut. Aaron Burr? Shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, shtupped everyone. Why shouldn’t Catherine the Great have the same opportunities with some stable boys without worrying about being stoned to death, beheaded or thrown into destitution? Fair is fair (is a veritable smorgasboard).
Next comme — No, never mind. I can’t bring myself to go down the rabbit hole. So I’ll just end it here.
Make love, not patriarchy.