“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures.” Jane Austen, a writer whose words have survived generations, was a novelist whose perception and wisdom regarding female character has exemplified women and literature for years. She is notorious for her portrayal of feminity as a trait that was not attributed to barriers, roles, or boundaries. But rather, the worth and value of the skills that women possess in contrast to, as well as in conjunction to, men.
While the term ‘feminism’ has several branches and has often been connected by the media to the radical acts of bra burning and the construct of “male bashing,” it is important to note the fundamental idealogy of the movement: that women are equal to men. Period.
If we ackowledge and appreciate the differences between men and women, but remain open and flexible in our expectations of the roles and abilities of each of the sexes, we can begin on an individual level to conquer the continued oppression of women in our schools, our offices, and our kitchens.
Does what make me different from a man also make me irrelevant? Does my value as a woman undermine the value of a man? The answer is no. Ask any feminist.
With that being said, who benefits from the assumption that a woman’s innate place of work is in the kitchen? The related assumption is that, as a result, a man’s innate place of work is in the office, or on the golf course, or in the kitchen for the purpose of killing a spider. But I argue that we cannot place women in a box without also placing men in a box, and it is just as much the right of a woman to perfect her golf swing as it is the right of a man to Swiffer the kitchen. This makes feminism, with all of its negative and inaccurate stereotypes and connotions, an issue which requires just as much attention from men in 2013 as it requires from women.
To assume that a primary motivator for a woman to perform a role should be her reward in the bedroom is to threaten the value of women, relationships, and family. The threatening reality of a world in which anyone is expected to conform to rules written by society is that, at some point, the rules will work against us. That’s why, in 2013, it is still considered an incredible insult to call anyone, male or female, a “girl,” a “skank,” a “bitch,” or a “whore.”
In her keynote addres to the WNBA’s all-decade team in 2006, Madaleine Albreight said “There is a special place in Hell for women who do not help other women.” By all means, every woman and man should feel free to wear pretty dresses, bake cookies, be successful in a job, have a family, not have a family, and choose a path of fulfilment.
Throughout this, we must remember that we are the most important educators when it comes to teaching others how to treat us. We set the example for our treatment. Ultimately, my wish is for my future daughters to grow up in a society which will allow them to fulfill the roles that they feel called to as a member of the human race, and not just as a woman filling a female role in society. And I want just as much for my future sons to grow up in a world where they see women as not just pretty things, but as people whose rational and humanity procedes their sexuality.’
By: Deb Sczeman junior psychology major