Feminism — not a four-letter word

Strife for equality for women is an ongoing quest

I KEEP HEARING people complain when I use the ‘F’ word. It offends people. Men often feel attacked by the use of it.

Of course, an astute reader will realize I am not speaking of the four-letter ‘F’ word; the one I’m referring to is an eight-letter word.
Guess what it is yet? I’ll be happy to name it: it’s feminism.

Before I continue, I need to make something clear. Contrary to popular opinion, a lot of feminists are happily married.

Some have children. Some work and some stay home. Some are white and some are black, or Hispanic or Asian- — fill in the blank.

Some are queer.

One more fact: some feminists are men.

I believe it’s safe to say that feminism is not a condition — it’s an ideology. And the ideology is for women to have equal opportunities, equal respect, equal position in society and so on, which men enjoy and have always enjoyed.

It is a bit like white people who have privilege that is often invisible to the white receiver. In general, black people know exactly what it is to not have privilege in our society. Skin color, prejudice and racism aside, I think a similar case can be made when talking about the position of men and women in our society, and addressing why an eight letter ‘F’ word needs to be voiced and practiced, a lot!

I can already hear it. “But women already reached a level with men, so why are we still talking about it and having it shoved down our throats?”

Let me ask this: when should feminists stop? Perhaps we should have stopped trying to further equality when, in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified in the United States. This begs the question (does it not?) of when men were given the right to vote.

Perhaps we should have stopped when it became illegal for men to beat their wives or female lovers. Not that it stopped it, of course.

Perhaps we should have stopped when women were, “allowed,” to have their own credit cards or when women could buy a house as a single woman, unlike men who could buy a house as soon as society replaced the old feudal system and began a new concept: buying land, rather than inheriting it.

Or should we have stopped when girls were allowed to wear pants, instead of dresses, to school?

Maybe we should have called it all good when the courts finally decided that raping one’s wife is wrong.

Did you know it was legal in Nebraska until 1976?

Or perhaps we should have stopped working to further our cause when anti-sexual harassment laws were put into place in the workplace, college, etc.

Should we stop now? Well, are women still being pressured to be sexual with their bosses, because if she doesn’t, she loses her job and can’t feed her children?

Are women still being raped by the thousands every year?

Are women still being battered by their husbands, stalked and killed?

And what about employment? Have you looked at any statistics that paint the full picture? Women are penalized for having children.

A man, generally, has the freedom to move up in his career, but a woman taking time out to have a baby will have a difficult time catching up, so to speak.

One may argue that it is her choice; but why does our society automatically expect everyone to play by male rules?

So, have we reached equality?

No, we have not.

Perhaps it appears that way because of what we think we see, such as laws made in an attempt to protect women and girls from having our sex or gender taken advantage of. But theory and fact are two very different things.

If men, or even some women, believe we are now equal, they are wrong. It is that simple.

How do I know this? Because I am a woman and I live life as a woman in a male-dominated society. Just as black people often feel they are treated unequally compared to white society, women understand we are disenfranchised as well.

Of course a feminist of color often has a double repression when facing a white, male world.

So listen, if you are offended by this “F’ word because you believe you are a person who believes in equality for women (and all ethnic groups) then I say, bravo! Come join us.

What? Did I just dare to call our society “male-dominated?”

Yes, I emphatically did so.

Who can best speak for women? Isn’t it women ourselves? Isn’t it women who know when we don’t experience equality?

Sometimes it is so ingrained that we miss it, in conversation and politics. But what is the big threat with women seeking true equality?

Are men put off because we want to stop violence against women?

It hasn’t ended.

Are we wrong to continue to fight against unwanted sexual advances in the work place?

It still happens.

Are we wrong to want a woman considered equally with males seeking the presidency?

Hasn’t happened.

Are we wrong to demand to be taken as seriously, when we have a medical problem, as a man is? Doesn’t happen across the board.
Have men been suspect when complaining about medical conditions like women are? Women are often still considered to be emotional and while not faking symptoms, we are often believed to have acquired the symptoms — hysteria.

Multiple Sclerosis was thought to be psychosomatic for years, since women are the most frequent victims. Do you really believe that stigma has somehow vanished?

Not by a long shot.

As always, I cannot speak for all feminists, but speaking for myself, I will not stop trying to further the cause until men really do stop beating wives and girlfriends.

I will continue to fight until women have complete control over our reproductive capabilities.

I will stop when the number of women who are brutalized by husbands is zero.

I will stop when the number of women raped every year becomes zero.

I will stop when little girls and boys are no longer molested and raped.

I will stop when women truly have equality, not in theory, but in fact.

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