Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday's (Formerly Tuesday's) Opinion: I Am Feminist And I'm Proud Of It!

Hey readers!  Every week I stand on my little soapbox and say what I think!
This week:

Why I'm Proud To Be A Feminist

Lately, we've been seeing women celebrities saying they're not a feminist, and women in general are responding everywhere, claiming not to be feminists.

My response?  I'm a feminist and I'm proud of it!

In the Western world of this day and age, most people are feminists (guys and girls alike).  But whenever we hear the term "feminist", we keep thinking of those extremists who burned bras and hated men.  But that's not what it means to be feminist.  Here's the technical definition of feminism:

feminism (noun):the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. feminist (noun): a person who supports feminism. 
I am all for the above definition.  True, we women no longer need to fight for our right to vote or to do the same things guys do, but it's a still predominately a man's world.  Women are constantly being sexualized a little more than men and it's still considered an insult to a boy if they cry, hit, or throw "like a girl".  Men are also expected to treat girls in a special way (ie, they can't hit girls, they must always hold a door open for girls, they must put girls on a pedestal).

Let me explain that last phrase with a little more detail.  There's this traditional thing where men need shouldn't do that, that's not it; I'm just saying women should be following the same rules of chivalry and exercising them towards men as well.  Men shouldn't feel like they should follow these rules simply because it's a girl and you must do it.  No, these rules that promote being respectful  and courteous towards someone else should be applied by all towards all without any preference towards any gender.  You should hold the door open for someone because it's polite, you should give them your coat because the man or woman is cold and you're not, and you shouldn't hit someone because violence is wrong.
to act chivalrous towards women, such as holding the door open for them, giving them their coat if the weather's cold, never hitting a woman simply because they're a woman, things like that.  I'm not saying guys

For me, I love being a feminist, but I'm kind of taking it to the next level here.  Above I explained that chivalry shouldn't just apply to men.  I feel the same way about clothing, ballroom dancing, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.  We shouldn't focus on one gender alone when it comes to these topics.  Let's get a little more specific here:

Clothing: I'm actually pretty cool when it comes to differences between women's clothing and men's clothing.  Women have bras, dresses, and high heels, and guys don't.  That's fine; I'm definitely not going to burn my bras and pretty dresses so that I'll be on equal footing with men, nor do I think all men should start wearing dresses and high heels.  Let's face it, most guys wouldn't look good in a skirt and stilettos.  Outfits nowadays are designed to be sexually flattering for each gender based on modern criteria, so there's no need to be riled up about it.  I think what makes it seem like a gender issue is that women focus more on what they're wearing than men, but still, a lot of guys try to wear clothes that make them look extremely handsome.  In order to emphasize that, maybe men should focus a little harder on fashion to improve their looks.

Ballroom Dancing:  I love my job as a ballroom dance teacher, I really do.  But one thing that has
been bothering me a lot lately is how gender divided it is.  Traditionally, men are the leaders, and women are the followers, which is such an old-fashioned way of thinking.  Lately, more and more women are trying out the leaders' role and dancing with other women, which I think is great, both as a dancer and as a feminist.  But guys don't learn the followers' role because they feel very uncomfortable dancing with other guys.  I don't think that should be an issue.  Sure some dance moves look very sexy, and traditionally dancing is a form of courtship, but I feel that ballroom dancing at a social event is more about socializing and having fun doing a hobby than it is about meeting the love of your life (and this is coming from the woman who first meet her husband on the dance floor).  At our studio, a few guys, including my husband, have been trying out the followers' part, and I really encourage people to do that.  I think it would really help bring ballroom dancing into the present day, and everyone's dancing would improve tremendously, with fewer bad and even painful habits.

Sexual Harassment: I hate sexual harassment, with a passion.  I've been harassed on the street, I had my butt slapped once, and I hate it.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!  Men do it to women all the time and they get called out on it a lot.  And some guys get irritated when women call out on sexual harassment, saying they're making too big a deal, but it is a big deal!
Maybe one thing that should be done to make it seem less irritating, is to pay just as much attention to when men are being sexually harassed.  It doesn't happen as often, but it still happens, and guys are not encouraged to report it as much as women; instead they are encouraged to just laugh and shake it off, or else suffer ridicule from their peers.
I'll give you a couple of examples that happened to guys I know.  A couple of years back, my husband came home from work with a story about an encounter between him and one of the janitors.  Dave was describing it as a weird conversation where the guy seemed to be hitting on him and making suggestive gestures towards him.  He also said it made him uncomfortable because it happened every time he talked to him.  The way he was describing the situation, to me it sounded like harassment, but he felt like there was nothing he could do about it; he just had to deal with it.  Now, if this had happened to a woman, everyone would have been screaming: "stand up for yourself!  Say you're uncomfortable, and if it keeps happening, report it!"  But Dave is a guy, and he felt like it would have been too weird to speak up.  That doesn't seem right to me.
Here's another, more extreme example: I was having a conversation with a family acquaintance who was a bartender  at a sports bar (let's call him Bob).  He told me about an encounter with a drunk, middle-aged, single woman who leaned over the counter and bit him on the nipple!  He had to wrestle her off by himself without being able to hit her (because, remember, it's wrong to hit a woman).  All the other employees, including the bouncer, found this hilarious, and the only punishment the woman received was to be cut off from alcoholic beverages for the remainder of the evening and gently encouraged to leave.  If Bob had tried kicking her off, or reporting to the police, he would have been laughed at and ridiculed, or yelled at for hitting her. Now, if the roles were reversed, and it was a guy biting a woman's nipple, that woman would have been kicking and screaming, and everyone would have come to her aid, with police officers more than willing to arrest the man.  To me, that doesn't seem fair at all, and only encourages inequality between genders.

Domestic violence: I repeat what I've said earlier: violence is wrong.  You shouldn't hit someone unless in self-defense against a major, physical threat.  Whenever we see violence out in public, we should do whatever we can to stop it, either by intervening or by calling for help.
I saw an interesting video the other day, however, about something we don't even realize (it's the one shown below).  In this video, actors are conducting a social experiment to see how passersby react to domestic violence in public.  When the guy is hitting the girl, everyone is in an uproar, but when the girl is hitting the guy, no one intervenes and some people are laughing or taking videos.  In my opinion, it's just like the sexual harassment bit I was talking about: it doesn't seem equal and fair at all.  We've been fighting so hard to stand up for women, that we are forgetting that sometimes, the men need just as much help.

It seems kind of weird that I'm rooting for equal rights for men now, doesn't it?  But that's how I feel feminism should be applied in this day and age.  There should be equal treatment between genders on all fronts.  There should be absolutely no gender bias for anything; it's equal opportunity for all, and I mean that for homosexuals and minorities as well.  Discrimination and prejudice against gender, race, religion and sexual preference is happening all the time, but some things are getting more attention and response than others, and that is only adding fuel to the fire.

Feminists in previous generations have worked to hard to provide equal opportunities for women.  In this day and age, we need to focus on equal treatment and equal opportunities for everyone.  I am proud to be a feminist, but I'm also proud to be an egalitarian.

Well, that's my opinion (*steps off soapbox*).  I'm sure there are some people out there who would disagree with me, but I'd like to hear what you have to say!  What's your opinion on feminism and egalitarianism?

Have an awesome day everyone and happy reading!
-Lisa The Dancing Bookworm


  1. I am not really a feminist, I am not married but I wouldn't mind being married..wouldn't mind staying at home taking care of the home and kids if we had some while the man went to work..I don't mind some old fashioned things. I don't think sexual harassment, etc is right by any means but don't consider myself a feminist.

  2. I am a feminist and proud of it too. I used to think that feminists were anti-men and I associated them with women who hated men and didn't shave and so on, but I had a professor in college who explained that all true feminists want is equality. She argued that all women should be feminists. Why wouldn't you want equality for your gender? I had to agree with her logic and ever since then I have identified as a feminist. Did you see the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN? She made some very good points about looking at gender as not just male/female, but more like a continuum, with individual members of each gender allowed to have various degrees of masculine and feminine traits without suffering insults or discrimination. It was a great speech! You can find it on YouTube if you want. I'm glad to see another woman not afraid to call herself a feminist! Great post! Happy reading!