I used to hate the term feminist. On the one hand, I grew up having a mom who was always a strong woman who believed in gender equality (though she avoided being labeled a femisist). And on the other hand, so many people I knew seemed to depict feminists as a united front of evil/annoying women who crashed and ruined every party. I think we all know that, though some feminists groups surely have views that not everyone agrees with, it was most likely those threatened by gender equality that created such stigma. Here is Wikipedia’s definition of feminism:
“Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women … A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”
And for those of you who are still leery of Wikipedia, here is dictionary.com’s definition:
“1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. 2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.”
Weird, huh? I do realize there are feminist groups, especially political ones, whose newsletters I would rather not receive, t-shirts I’d rather not wear and regional conferences I’d rather not attend (unless they’re the kind where you check into your hotel room, skip all sessions and seminars and just go to sports events and eat out at cool restaurants). But for every one of them there are about ten Christian groups where I’d say the same thing. I don’t do any lobbying or canvasing, but perhaps more of us fit in this definition in one way or another. Or maybe just more than we would think.
Here are five principles I believe strongly in regarding gender equality:
1. Women should get the opportunity to do anything a man has an opportunity to do AND be paid the same. I do realize that some jobs seem to fit one gender more than another. I think everyone knows this and is fine with it, including feminists. But the stereotypes simply aren’t always accurate. Rarely are they. The profession that I used to be in–local church youth ministry–women were paid less than men consistently all across North America. The sharpest students I had when teaching the subject were often women, but they ended up with the small salary jobs, if they got one at all. This wasn’t just my hunch either. The figures were in print every year in a monthly journal I’d receive. The idea still sickens me.
2. Chivalry is not dead. I get so tired of hearing this. So men don’t open doors like they used to (why is this always the example used?)–we live in a different time. Chivalry plays itself out differently. I had a friend who went through a phase where he couldn’t stop insinuating that I was a henpecked husband. It seemed ironic: if I brought her a coffee, took care of the kids while she was with friends or left an event early so I could be with her, I wasn’t a gentleman nor was I chivalrous. I was simply whipped. But for the record I open doors for everyone. I’m Canadian.
3. I would give anything to stop hearing the phrase “wears the pants in the family.” This statement assumes that a man must be “head of the household” and, therefore, must make decisions and call the shots. Now many households may operate this way where one person does it all. I’m not sure that it’s fair to say that they “wear the pants” if they are female. That implies that the leader should be male but the female has had to take the role on. But again, this stigma is hardly ever the case. In our house, if you were speaking strictly of taking care of finances, then I have no problem admitting that Joy “wears the pants.” Go ahead and say she wears the tie and cumberbun, I don’t care. I’m not good at it and I’m glad for her to take that. When it comes to Thankfully none of us wear these pants anymore. Please Hammer, hurt ’em.disciplining the kids, usually I’m called in as the chairman of that board (makes me wonder… how come when I fed my kids when they were babies or changed their diapers no one told me I was wearing the dress in the family?). A great deal of the decision making in our family involves both Joy and me. It’s true that there was a time when, as Archie and Edith Bunker so eloquently put it, “girls were girls and men were men.” Everyone had their roles and it worked. Yes times have changed, but we don’t need to be threatened by that.
4. There is no such thing as “reverse sexism.” Same with “reverse racism.” It doesn’t exist. We make up terms like that when we feel threatened. Sexism is sexism whether it’s a man or a woman committing it, and whether it’s a man or a woman they are committing it against.
5. Before you belittle one gender or the other, as if you can make an accurate judgment on one mammoth group of people all across the globe, remember that there are people who know and love you who belong to that group. I remember a babysitter of mine when I was six years old saying to me, “Troy don’t grow up to be a man,” when she was angry at her boyfriend. I wish I could go back in time and give her a piece of my mind. Got a problem with someone? Deal with that problem with that person. It doesn’t help you at all to drag anyone else into it.
Do complaining feminists annoy me? Sure. But it should be noted here that complainers annoy me, whether or not they are feminists, Wal-Mart customers, children in my house, Montreal Canadiens fans, or old people is irrelevant. But one thing I’ve learned about complaining: sometimes you’ve got to listen and try to see it from their point of view. Actually, scratch the “sometimes” from that last sentence. I became ten times happier of a person once I started to try and do this on as regular of a basis as I could.
And now, this week’s movie of the week is Roman Holiday, in honour of the Queen of the Golden Age of Film, Audrey Hepburn. She too was a strong women who made it big in a male-dominated profession. She was a Dutch woman who spoke English, which makes for a very unique accent. Though she was slight and meek she would grab the camera with her charm and all eyes were on Audrey.
Congratulations Audrey Hepburn and Roman Holiday. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Like I did with other actor-centered nominees, I’m going to pick a second actress for this category. As much as I love Marilyn Monroe, I believe Grace Kelly deserves the distinction. She was my pick this week, but I decided to go with what the majority of people were picking.
Best Actor: Jack Lemon. Normally I’d say Jimmy Stewart, but he’s gotten so much attention already. I’m really not much of a Lemon fan, but he deserves this.
Best quote: “Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!” – Marilyn Monroe as Sugar in Some Like It Hot.
Again, there are many other great women who could’ve been on this list. I love the golden age of movies. It can be strange seeing how they talked, acted, thought, and even walked in that time. But just like in most contexts, brushing away the dust of things that are different or foreign to us we find priceless gems that dazzle. And these women dazzle.