Friday, March 22, 2013

Feminism

I hate the term "feminism." To me, it's come to mean that you need to keep your name after you're married, that you should automatically want to work full time after you have children, that you should want to put your career first - that no matter what choice you make, it's not nearly equal enough to what men do or otherwise what you should be doing.

Before FaceBook deleted a discussion thread I was having with a former classmate, I had linked to an blog post in which the author ranted about man-bashing. I thought it was pretty spot on, but my former classmate thought it incredibly anti-feminist. She and I had some back-and-forth, my argument being that I can't stand the term "feminism" anymore because no matter how one defines it, it's considered wrong or dated. My classmate opined, for reasons that I can no longer remember that such blog posts were anti-feminist, yet she then went on to argue that at least one definition of feminism is that women be given a safe place to argue what they'd like. There was a bit of incongruity there: If you rant about something on your blog about a certain behavior of a subset of women, that's anti-feminist, but it's feminist if we give women a safe place. On a personal blog, the blogger can write what he or she likes.

Feminism is about personal choice. I'd like to see a term that applies to men as well, though. "Feminism" smacks of exclusion.

I'm more interested in seeing wider acceptance of more behaviors: If women change their last names, they're not being feminist; if they don't change their last names, they're not committing to the marriage. Men get the reverse of this thinking: If they change their names, there's a backlash as well.

And then I came across this comment, which I think sums up the situation perfectly:

"Let me preface this next link by saying that I am, like, SO fucking over “feminists” who can’t stop bitching and moaning about how sad it makes them when other women take their husband’s names. As feminists they applaud a woman’s right to make personal choices, but then belittle or, worse, condemn whatever choices they think aren’t feminist enough (like changing their name, converting to their husband’s religion, quitting their jobs to be stay-at-home mothers, formula-feeding their babies, enjoying rom-coms)? Whatever. I’m a feminist and I not only support a woman’s right to personal choice, I applaud choices that differ my own." At the end of the quotation, which had led to this mini-rant, was a link to "Why should married women change their names? Let men change theirs," which went on to argue that one's name is one's identity, that the reasons women give for changing their names after marrying don't make much sense.

Let's not argue, then, that the reasons for not changing one's name after marriage are as equally invalid: whether or not a woman changes her name, her name is still a man's last name, either her father's, or her grandfather's, or even her great-grandfather's. The identity is still tied to a man's.

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