Why We Still Need Feminists

We are not looking in our rear view mirror at rights that have made us equal for generations.

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typing-pool
Typing pool, circa 1950’s. (Photo: Wikipedia.com)

I graduated high school in 1995, having never taken one elective class I’d really wanted to take. Every year I asked my mom, and every year she told me she would refuse to sign off on any schedule in which I tried to register for the class.

 

Keyboarding.
This was just before the advent of the internet, when everyone was on a computer, mobile or otherwise, at all times. Keyboarding, at that time, was a legitimate endeavor. Mainly, you were taught how to type without looking at all at your hands, with your fingers in set positions on a QWERTY keyboard. You were taught to type with decreasing typos and increasing speed.
She flat out refused to let me take it.
For me, the class was a chance to hang out with a different set of kids. I was always in Honors classes, which meant I generally moved through my day surrounded by the same group of classmates. Electives were my chance to maybe sit next to a new guy or see my best friend who didn’t take any Honors classes.
My mom wasn’t having it.
Sure, there were other electives. But orchestra, which I took every year, tended to have mostly those same Honors students in it. Art was a good mix of kids, until I ran out of art classes to take and took an AP Studio Art class that allowed me to take photography as an independent study.
There were five kids in that class.
I’d ask her why and she always answered that there were so many electives available to me. Pick another one.
Within a year of my graduation, the internet exploded with dial up and AOL and chat rooms.
I was working part time for my mom and her friend the summer after graduation. They’d started their own benefits consulting firm. My dad had left the previous year and my mom needed to earn more money in order to support us alone, so her and her friend figured that was their best shot at higher salaries. Paying themselves.
She’d give me a document or letter to type up and I’d tease her.
I could be typing this way quicker if you’d have let me take keyboarding.
She’d give me a smartass reply and move on.
That fall I started college at a private, four-year university nearby to which I earned a partial scholarship. Two weeks later, without discussing it with my mother, I went down to the registrar and signed myself out.
She’d had to declare bankruptcy and sell our home after my dad left. We were living in an apartment, her and my brother and I, and she was trying to make her new business work so she could better support us. It felt like, at the time, the best thing I could do was not strap her with more debt. Not be another source of worry for her. I felt it was best if I got out and got myself a full time job and supported myself. So I found one and quit school before we were responsible for any tuition.
That night we sat at our kitchen table discussing what I’d done.
She looked tired.
You always said you wanted to be a lawyer.
I shrugged. Yeah, well I’m not really feeling that anyway. I’d be racking up all this debt when I don’t really know what I even want to do.
My mom wasn’t having it. She begged and cried and I was stubborn and cried. Then she finally told me.
I never let you take that stupid keyboarding class because I wanted you to have all the opportunities I never had. When I went to school, all the girls were told to take keyboarding. Because if you weren’t going to be a teacher or a nurse, you were going to be a secretary somewhere until you found a guy to marry you. Which is exactly what I did. I never let you take that class because I wanted you to be in a position where you could hire your own fucking secretary if you needed something typed.
 
___________________________________________
Men, and often women, comment on my writing about feminism.
You want equal rights? You got ’em. Shut up already.
What are you even marching for?
I have never felt inferior to men. I earn the same as them. I don’t know what you people are talking about.
It doesn’t seem to matter to these people what our national statistics say. Or that the statistics are even worse for some minorities.
I am a feminist because we are not treated as equals.
 
Our pay is not equal. Our representation in government is not equal. The men in government are making decisions that affect my health and body, and that is not equal.
I am a feminist because minority men and women are not treated as equals.
 
Their pay is not equal. Their representation in government is not equal. The men in government are making decisions that affect their health and bodies, and that is not equal.

Putting aside all of that, I am a feminist because our hold on these freedoms you claim we have feels tenuous, at best.

We’re not talking about generations of freedom. One generation ago my mother had to take a keyboarding class in order to graduate high school because that, typing out letters, was considered her best option for employment until she got married.
One generation ago, my mother was married and a mother before she was legally allowed to have a credit card in her name. And that was only because a female congresswoman, unbeknownst to her colleagues, added the language banning discrimination based on sex and marriage. The law was going to be passed without it.
One generation ago, my mother was married and a mother and could legally be fired from her job for getting pregnant.
One generation ago, my mother was married and a mother before she could even report sexual harassment. Actually, make that less than a generation ago. Because sexual harassment wasn’t legally defined until I was three years old. 
Less than a generation ago? In MY lifetime, my mother still could be excluded from being on a jury because she was a woman. Still could legally be discriminated against in regards to housing and credit because she was a woman. Still had her husband considered “head and master” by many states in regards to jointly owned property. Still could be legally passed up for promotion in a law firm for being a woman. Until I was 16 years old, it was still legal in some states to rape your spouse. Until I was 16, a woman had to prove she’d been physically or psychologically harmed in order to claim she’d been sexually harassed. (Click here for a quick reference to all the claims made in this paragraph.)
Just because you personally are not experiencing something, doesn’t mean others, elsewhere, aren’t experiencing it. Women across the country are earning less than their male counterparts. We are severely underrepresented in government. That includes local and state representation, not just federal. We are not looking in our rear view mirror at rights that have made us equal for generations.
So I’m a feminist. You don’t have to agree with me, but it would be nice if you stopped trying to tell me to give it up.
Either way, I’ll still be a feminist. For all of us.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick Isn’t the One Trampling Our Constitution. But You Might Be.

466px-Colin_Kaepernick_(cropped)
Photo of Colin Kaepernick By Au Kirk; cropped by Moe Epsilon [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Such righteous indignation I’m seeing the past two days because a 49ers quarterback decided to sit out the national anthem.
I’ll start by saying how much I enjoy the sarcastic cries of Oh, he’s so oppressed! followed by memes like this and this.
Please read his official statement on why he sat down during the national anthem:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said, according to NFL.com. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
At no point does he state that he is oppressed.
He’s taking a stand, with his voice that has been given a national stage, for those he feels have voices that aren’t being heard.
Sort of like if I were to advocate for sex trafficking victims. I’ve never been one. That doesn’t mean I can’t, or have no place, lending my voice to their plight.
Now, on to those who feel he is “un-American,” disrespectful of our troops, and that he should leave the country.
(I’m looking at you, Facebook troll.)
What he did is one of the most American things a person in this country can do. No matter what I, or anyone else, thinks of his stance or the actual act of refusing to stand during the national anthem, protesting . . . taking a stand . . . fighting for your beliefs . . . are all as American as apple pie.
Don’t you dare shame that man by saying he is disgracing our nation or our troops.
His right to protest is protected by the Constitution.
It’s the very reason our troops defend our nation.
In many parts of the world, he would be in danger for taking a stand like that.
In addition, his protest was silent and peaceful. If you get mad when protestors damage things, and get mad when they disrupt businesses (even if all they do is march, if businesses are unable to open or people don’t go into them because of protests they are disrupted), in what ways do you think someone can stand up and have their voice heard when he/she feels passionately for a cause without leaving you in vast amounts of butthurt from your perch at your keyboard?
I never heard of this guy before. Now I know, because of an act of silent, peaceful protest, that this means something to him. What better way for someone who has a moment on the national stage to get his point across? If he had put his hands up in the faces of officers there to keep the crowd safe, such as NBA players did, he’d be publicly shamed as they were.
At what point do we admit that by arguing over peaceful forms of protest we are silencing people and disrespecting our very own Constitution?
If that’s your objective, admit it.
I don’t have to agree with his cause. I don’t have to agree with his form of protest (even if it harms nobody). I’m thankful to live under the protection of our Constitution so that people CAN sit if they want without fear of government retribution.
Stop whining about a first world problem and let’s instead have a productive national conversation over something that matters.
Because this conversation?
It’s just a distraction from the real issues.

“Feminist” Isn’t a Curse Word or Insult

feminist

A friend recently admitted to getting emotional while watching Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Presidential nominee. Then qualified her statement with, “I’m not a feminist by any means . . . “

Well, I am.

Because I believe that all human beings, no matter what their genitalia looks like, are equal.

Because if I am hired to do a job and get paid for it, and I do that job well, I should get paid the same as anyone else who does the job. No matter what either of our genitalia looks like.

Because I believe that women shouldn’t be treated like a liability simply because we can, or might, reproduce.

Because it’s disgusting that the United States of America has yet to have a female leader, while various countries around the world have. England, France, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Nicaragua, India, South Korea, Sri Lanka, just to name a few.

Because I’m sick of reading about rape victims’ lifestyle choices, clothing choices, drinking choices, career choices, walking choices, friend choices, motherhood choices, who she chose or didn’t choose to accompany her to a party, what party she chose to attend, why she chose to attend, and on and on and on. Oh, and the accuser’s swim times.

Because I’m tired of women who avail themselves of social service programs being treated like thieves, emptying your pockets of your hard-earned money. Like they immaculately conceived their child(ren) as a way to avoid work their entire lives. Like they are all drug addicts and alcoholics. When, in fact, a study revealed “that 56% of federal and state dollars spent between 2009 and 2011 on welfare programs — including Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — flowed to working families and individuals with jobs. In some industries, about half the workforce relies on welfare.” (Source.)

Because I hate how women are treated as if they’re ornaments. Like they’re daft. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re actresses. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re astronauts. They’re asked stupid questions if they’re politicians. They’re asked stupid questions on job interviews.

I’m a proud feminist.

No matter what you think of that word.

No matter how much it sounds like a sneer when it comes out of some people’s mouths.

No matter that you treat it like it’s a curse word or an insult.

I’m a proud fucking feminist.

And if you believe in equality, for all human beings, you are as well.

So embrace it. Take the bitter taste out of the word. The very people who want to keep you down, are the ones who keep it tainted. Don’t buy into their patriarchal, ignorant bullshit. Flip those fuckers off.

Want to know how?

Be a fucking feminist.

 

I Don’t Want to Use the Same Bathroom as You

bathrooms

Guess what.

I don’t want to use the bathroom with anybody.

And that could just be because I’m a mom and 100% not exaggerating when I tell you I don’t recall the last time I had a piss in peace. My cat lays on my feet. My dog stares at me in a super creepy way. (Seriously, if you’re worried about perverts I’d like to report her.)

My kids? The older ones fucking talk to me right through the door. The youngest . . . just all up in my grill. Practically sits on my lap. Even gets my feminine products for me when it’s my “Mommy that’s gross!” time of the month.

Honestly, I don’t give a shining fuck what’s in your pants. I don’t want to go to the bathroom with you.

But sometimes, it happens. It’s natural. It’s unavoidable. I often find myself away from my preferred toilet (the one in my home) and have to use a public restroom. And hey, as shy as I am about public restrooms, let’s all stop a minute to give thanks they exist! I’m stoked I have never had to shit in the street. Like my super creepy dog who also, come to think of it, stares at me while she’s shitting.

Yet here I am, writing about going to the bathroom with you. Why is that?

I don’t normally rant on here. I certainly don’t discuss politics. That’s what everyone on Facebook does. And seriously, fuck Facebook.

I appreciate that it allows me to keep in touch with faraway friends and family in a convenient, visual manner. But in all honesty, lately it just makes me ill and inspires rants like the one I’m gearing up to drop right here like a deuce.

Everyone is basically an asshole. I won’t even explain that any further. If you’ve been on Facebook, you get it.

To be honest, I’m hopeful enough to believe that all of us are open enough and accepting to just get that this is really a non-issue. That we shouldn’t even have to discuss this.

But just in case . . .

1. There are SO MANY more important things in this world to get up in arms about.

Why have you chosen to hyper focus on what is in someone’s underwear prior to that human being choosing a restroom to use?

Armchair activists raise my blood pressure like very few other things do. Because this is what I want to shout at each and every one of them:

Hey asshole! You hate how the world works? Instead of sharing that misguided, hateful, ignorant meme that lacks grammar (seriously it contains ZERO grammar) get up, get the fuck out of your house, and GO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

Then, feel free to come at me, bro.

2. Guess what used to happen in the bathroom before all this bullshit started?

You went in.

You went to the bathroom.

AND YOU HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS IN THE PANTS OF THE PERSON IN THE NEXT STALL.

Seriously. You had no idea.

Guess what?

I’m gonna let you in on a secret.

Shhhhhh.

You’ve already peed next to transgender people.

AND YOU LIVED.

3. I have a question.

HOW THE FUCK DO PEOPLE CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN THE BATHROOM?

Here’s how I roll.

I go in.

I piss.

I wash my hands.

I leave.

I keep my head down.

I make eye contact with NOBODY.

The New York Fucking Knicks could be pissing in that bathroom with me, I’d have no idea. Want to know why?

BECAUSE IT’S ALREADY INSANE TO ME THAT I HAVE TO PEE WITH STRANGERS.

I don’t want to acknowledge it in any way. I just want to be back home with my pervert dog staring at me.

There are several moments in every day when I want utter peace and quiet and privacy and tranquility. No, not when I’m meditating.

WHEN I’M IN THE BATHROOM.

Do you seriously spend so much time in public restrooms that you feel you have the time, and even the inclination, to check everyone’s genitalia?????

Then, guess what.

You need to reevaluate your entire life.

While you’re at it . . . see # 1 above and follow those instructions.