This has been on my mind a lot lately, and I think I just need to get it out there and vent a little.
How can a woman in our current times, with the exception of those chained into oppressive religious viewpoints, profess to not be a feminist? I find it ridiculous that any woman, or man for that matter, would be under the impression that the playing field is level or would be so irresponsible in not trying to make it so. I seem to be labeled "radical" in my thinking on this matter, though to me it just makes sense.
Feminism started decades ago to help liberate women from forced roles – the wife, the mother, the secretary, the uneducated, the prostitute. As it grew feminism had an impact on millions of lives, changed those lives for the better. It was also grossly misrepresented in the media, particularly relating to motherhood, being a biological occurrence that has risen to sainthood throughout history. Feminists have been portrayed as nazi, man-hating, martyrs to the womb. With the exception of the rare case, and every movement has those fanatics, those thoughts and ideas don't correspond to the actuality of feminism. I'm being short here, of course, but even a cursory approach at research will show that I'm correct in my short take on the history of feminism, and I've completed more than a cursory approach.
As I'm preparing myself to become a mother, thinking about how my life will change and how I will teach my daughter what is valuable and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, I find myself surrounded by women who question my ideas. I have to shake my head sometimes with incredulity; how could I not feel the conflict between work and home, when women for decades have felt the same? Why is it that my decisions for my life and my daughter's can easily be turned into a public forum, even though they are private and personal to me and mine? How, when my husband can accept my decisions, can it be so hard for people I've never even met to understand that I chose not to take his last name when we married? This judgment for personal matters is, in my opinion, one of the very things feminism was first started to prevent; I am not on trial for my decisions because I am a woman. No one has ever asked my husband how he could let his wife not take his last name; almost everyone I meet assumes that I'm an unmarried pregnant woman who is lucky her boyfriend hasn't taken for the hills yet.
I guess I've answered my own question; women, people, who fail to seek out knowledge about feminism and rely instead on one-sided, slanted reports and hearsay are the ones who can feel justified in slamming those men & women who have worked so hard to get us to this point. People who have no idea who bell hooks is are the ones who are so vehemently opposed, and to something they don't even understand. Still, ignorance is no excuse, people, and starting your sentences with, "I'm not a feminist, but…" are not a get out of jail free card.
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