by Caitlin Elam
While spelunking in the vast cave that is the Internet, exploring the concept of “Women Against Feminism”, I did a double take:
“Women against FEMINISM? Burn them at the stake! Someone fetch me my fainting couch and some smelling salts, I’ve got the vapors!” Yes, I’m guilty of being a tad overdramatic…sometimes.
I composed myself and thought about it logically: what would it hurt me to go check out their site with an open mind, read what they have to say, and comment on it via blog? Aren’t we supposed to be open-minded creatures of tolerance these days? That’s what I thought and what I’ve always believed/been taught.
I read their Facebook/Tumblr pages and got a look at what this was, exactly. This isn’t women hating on other women but rather trying to reshape what modern feminism has become and I like a good deal of what they’re saying. They’re not saying women should go back in the kitchen and be barefoot and pregnant (unless they want to). They’re not saying that women shouldn’t have rights to healthcare, decision-making power over their bodies, be able to vote/own land/hold office/join the military/etc, or be safe from anti-victim rape legislation. I didn’t see one iota of any of that in any of the posts..
What I found was a bunch of thoughtful, ballsy women coming together for a common cause and supporting one another. Their name is either a misnomer or really cleverly crafted trolling/satire because these are actual feminists (or what feminists are supposed to be), in my humble opinion. In a couple of cases, some of these women have said that feminists have told WAF women they should be raped for their beliefs. Counterproductive, much?
I didn’t agree with all of the women that posted but that’s ok; I don’t think they were looking for my approval and that is wonderful because they shouldn’t need my approval – only their own. If it feels right, do it (unless it’s against the law – no brainer).
It was evident to me that they want the freedom to choose based on what theywant personally. You want to go be a stay at home wife and mother? Go ahead – I’ve done it and it’s the hardest freaking job on the planet but easily the most rewarding. Do you want to be a multi-billionaire CEO? Go for it! I suggest reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss and listening to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor to jazz you up.
I’ve been working in vocations where males are more prevalent than females since I could legally work because those fields are where my passions were/are. The jobs I loved working just happened to be ubiquitously male, not because I felt I had anything to prove or needed to spank the patriarchy with my uterus of mightiness. I’ve been employed in a video store (I love movies), a movie theater (did I mention I love movies?), a comic book store (I love comics), a pizza joint (who doesn’t love pizza?), and a police officer in the United States Navy (I love me some justice).
Have I been sexually harassed before? Yes, I have and it was while I was in the military. It was absolutely a horrible experience. Do you want to know what I did? I reported the infraction (at the encouragement of a man). My “chutzpah” sparked something because a few other women were encouraged to speak out about this Sailor for his wrongdoing; he had done the same thing to them that he had done to me.
The man responsible was put up for Captain’s Mast (Non Judicial Punishment) and he was subsequently and unceremoniously kicked out of the Navy. I was then, unfortunately, reprimanded by his Chief for “ruining” the guy’s life, family, and career by reporting the harassment. Navy isn’t ever going to be perfect. Doesn’t matter – I’m still proud of standing up for myself and others.
I didn’t automatically glean from those two bad experiences that all men are horrible, women-hating trolls because that would be stupid. Overgeneralizing is not only myopic but also unfair. For every one man I had making my life hell, I had five supporting me every step of the way. My Commanding Officer, my Executive Officer, my Security Officer, my Leading Petty Officer (MA1 Darren Clayton – whom I consider my mentor to this day and a hell of a friend/person), my coworkers/brothers in arms – all of them house Y chromosomes. All of them helped and supported me. And yes, I had female Sailors supporting me, too. Good Sailors all.
The military does have a long way to go in its treatment towards women but it is experiences like mine that generally give me hope. It was also kick-ass women (like my grandmother) who were in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) that made it so I could even take the oath to join the Navy in the first place.
Yes, the system does bomb and there injustices commented against women every single day all over the world. It tears my heart in two. I want to fight for those women, not women that tell me I’m a piece of shit because I like getting manicures or I let my daughter wear pink. Newsflash: the kid LIKES pink – shut up about it (she also pretends to be Wolverine from the X-Men if it helps you sleep better at night).
While it is a sickening/sobering thought that women suffer abuse every single day, it does not mean that the whole male race are vicious brutes ready to spring out and hurt ladies at all hours of the day. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be able to walk out of my house.
I wouldn’t have married my husband if I thought he was just going to persecute me; I was raised better than that. Could you look at this picture of Sam asleep with our daughter on Father’s Day and honestly tell me that he hates women? He’s helping me with raising one (very well, I might add).
The modern feminist movement has gone from women supporting each other, fighting against real injustices, and having a common goal of equality with men to the other end of the spectrum where women viciously attack each other and compete against each other for who can be the “most feminist” (but God forbid there be a pageant for that title because that would be *gasp* sexist).
I do fundamentally consider myself a feminist, though, but I always have to have to add a disclaimer so I’m not lumped in with the radicals that have the loudest voices in the media. I strive for female equality with men rather than superiority over men; there, that’s about as concise as I can get it.
I think the feminist movement has come a long way and accomplished a lot but has most definitely overshot the mark to its own detriment. It went from “all men are better than women and should dominate” to “all men are scum and must be stopped!” Whatever happened to happy mediums? As Billy Joel says, “I don’t know why I go to extremes; too high or too low, there ain’t no in-betweens”. Apparently you’re either for the feminist movement or you’re against them.
I’ve seen most of the blogs coming out against and demonizing Women Against Feminism or celebrities like Shailene Woodley because they’ve said they’re not feminist (probably because they, like me, don’t want to be pigeonholed). “Big feminism”/radicals represented in these blogs throw WAF and other anti-feminist celebrities into that aforementioned false dichotomy and it really makes you wonder if they even read anything WAF wrote. There are misogynists in this world but these women ain’t it.
I was NOT put on this Earth to entertain or please men but I wasn’t put here to hate them, either. I learned from the best feminist on the planet (my mother, whom I’ve written about before), to stand up for myself, fight for what I believe in, pick my battles, hold my head up high, and be proud to be a woman. I have, I do, and I am.
Feminists – stop shooting yourselves in the vagina, grow up, and make yourselves a cohesive/inclusive unit with a clear mission statement. If being a feminist means I have to be a man-hating bully then count me right the hell out; I choose to support rather than demean.
Caitlin Elam is a contributor for the Never Daunted Radio Network. You can reach her on Twitter at @SuperCaity