Because of when I grew up, and in large part because of who my mom is/became, I have been thinking about feminism, women’s rights )reproductive and otherwise), feminism’s relation to sex, how men can (or can’t) be feminists, and so on a good chunk of my life. Lately, as seems to happen on a regular basis, I’ve seen another round of posts, articles, and thought pieces on whether women can or can’t have it all, and which one is a more feminist approach.
Now, my opinions on the answer to this are inherently bogus cuz I’m not only a guy, I’m a straight, cis-gendered, white guy. I’m well aware of my privileges and advantages, and how they benefit me basically every single friggin’ day. Heck, I’ve even written about how much it pisses me off. If you don’t believe me, or want to tune me out because of that, that’s totally fine. I’m not trying to mansplain’ here; I’m just musing about what I think.
Now that I’ve qualified my place in the feminist movement, my answer to the “can/can’t she have it all” question is simple: It’s the wrong damn question. And this is kind of what I’ve decided feminism boils down to for me: Equality for all, regardless of gender. (With gender having the modern, more elastic definition, i.e. including trans folks & etc.) That’s it. Pretty simple, and something I have hard time anyone would not want to support. Which means the question about “having it all” should really be asked this way:
“Don’t you believe everyone, regardless of gender, should have the opportunity and freedom to pursue their dreams in life?”
If you want to try to “have it all”, you should have that freedom (whether you’re a man or a woman!); if you want to just pursue your career, you should have the freedom to do that, without having to face the stuff I’ve seen in high tech; if you want to stay at home and raise your kids (like I did for more than a year!), you should have the freedom to do that. That’s feminism to me: The ability to have an equal chance to pursue your dreams, your desires, whether you “want it all” or not, dammit!
Freedom and opportunity; that’s all.
Now, the right wing has done an exemplary job in throwing enough mud at the word “feminism” to make us lefties disown it to a lesser or greater degree. I’ve given this considerable thought, and on the one hand I think the word “feminism” really sucks–right away, it makes me feel as a man that my help in pushing this really reasonable goal of equal opportunity and freedom is not wanted. Or worse, actively discouraged, as indeed it is by the radical feminism side of the world. You know: The folks who believe all penis-in-vagina (PiV) sex is rape; the wymyn who believe any male/female sex is assault. And the second wave feminists, by saying things like “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” haven’t helped. You hear that, and it’s pretty reasonable to respond, “Oh yeah? Okay; fuck you, then!”
And of course, you get a vocal minority of these types of feminists who object to anything that is remotely sex-positive. Porn is evil; PiV sex is evil; male/female sex is evil; BDSM is evil; kink is evil; opening doors for people perpetuates the patriarchal paradigm; getting married is demeaning (and evil); etc. You get enough of this and you think, “Yeah, I don’t want to be part of that. Combine that with the right making you feel bad about it anyway, and the pressure to disown feminism is pretty strong and widely held.
But you know what? Screw those people! “Feminism” means equal opportunity and freedom no matter your gender, dammit! That’s it! We’re all equal partners in the workplace, the home, raising the kids, forming relationships, sexual play, governing the country, state, and locales, and everything else! Opposing that is not only sexist and bigoted, it’s anti-American, durn it! We hold these truths to be self-evident, and all that.
So yeah, I think it’s not a good term for the principle (and “humanist” is worse), and wish we could come up with a better one like when “gay marriage” morphed into “marriage equality”. (“Genderism”? “Gender freedom”? “Gender equality”? I’m open to suggestions.) But it’s what we have right now, and the first thing is we need to reclaim the word from the right-wing dipsticks like Rush “Feminazi” Limbaugh and his fellow idiot travelers and make it our own again, just like “liberal”, and to heck with them. And the second thing is, we gotta get more men on board.
Anyway, that’s what this one guy here thinks.