I wasn’t raised a “feminist” (I’ve written about that before), so I get the knee-jerk reaction against the word feminism. After spending my formative years in Texas it’s just not something I go around calling myself. Am I a feminist? Yes, according to the dictionary definition I most certainly am. Usually though, I just prefer to go through life as a human making my own choices about my own well-being.
That is where my qualm with these anti-feminist jar ladies comes in. Jars can be hard to open, and I admit, sometimes I ask my stronger male roommate to open jars for me (but then his mom gave us a rubber jar opener, which changed the game). And yes, if there is a male present and I am carrying something heavy my Texan sensibilities kick in and I expect him to take the reins on the heavy burden, but only when said man is actually stronger than me (I am deceptively strong thanks to years of competitive cheerleading). Men are often physically stronger than women. So what? Women are often mentally stronger than men. Can you imagine the complaints from men if they had to birth babies AND take care of them? Some of them think taking care of their own kids is babysitting anyway. That’s neither here nor there, the point is that different humans have different strengths, and no one human should be telling others what those strengths should or should not be.
That, dear misguided ladies of the jar, is what feminism is about. We’re literally just telling women (and men) that they should be able to do whatever they damn well please with their lives, because it is none of anyone else’s business. If you like it when your husband does “manly” things for you I think that is great! That may just be your love language. Make love, I’m all for it! However, I doubt that type of thing would fulfill, say, a Hillary Clinton, and that’s fine — she’d rather be president. That’s okay too.
I cannot understand how my doing what I want with my life effects you. Maybe you find feminism heavy-handed. Maybe the qualm is not actually with the dictionary definition of feminism, but rather how it has been branded over the years: domineering, loud, aggressive, un-ladylike — I’m riffing over here. I get it, it is appealing to be a lady sometimes. I’m a lady, it’s great, and I happen to like men too! I also agree that feminists (especially in the realm of online feminism) can be harsh, I definitely have my own qualms with that. But you are doing everyone a disservice by thinking that your ability to have a voice right now, to push back against feminism, is not a direct result of feminism.
If it were up to the structure of patriarchy we are slowly crawling out of ALL women would be home taking care of the children they produced with their more worldly partners. Just to reiterate one more time, THAT IS OKAY for women who want that, but some women don’t want that, and for even more it is not a possibility. Within these female driven anti-feminist arguments is an inherent air of privilege. You are privileged in your ability to have these conversations because many women don’t have the option of staying at home, or letting their man open jars because there is no man. That is reality, however you decide to feel about that matters to no one, because your feelings about someone else’s life are irrelevant.
In the end, maybe the bigger issue is that feminism has a branding problem. Maybe the F-word is just too much for us to get past. Would a new word help? Maybe we can get a real-life Peggy Olson on the case for a new ad campaign. I don’t know, again, just riffing. But it seems to me that what these ladies don’t understand is that no one is threatening their livelihoods, but they are threatening mine. If you don’t like feminism, don’t call yourself a feminist. But I have a hunch that when your brilliant little girl grows up and voices her desire to be president you are not going to tell her she should instead look for a man to open her jars — you may even encourage her to call herself a feminist.