Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lessons In Feminism From Non-Feminists

Within an article about some women who are nostalgic for a pre-second wave era in which they didn't live, one woman who has chosen to live a semi-retro lifestyle explains:

"I also think it's OK to be sexy for your husband and bake a cake, though I know a lot of women will hate me for saying it. You don't have to be standing at the front door in lingerie, but dressing up for him and making his favourite dinner is just another way of saying, 'I love you and I respect you.'"

It's just weird, because I'm leafing through my Feminist Manual For Acceptable Lady Living and I'm not finding the mandate wherein women aren't allowed to be sexy for their partners or bake cakes.

But seriously, I can somewhat understand the reaction. Upon encountering some non-feminist women on the internet, I'm certain I'm not alone in being the recipient of an unprovoked hyper-defensive rant about how it's their CHOICE to stay at home and their RIGHT to love their babies and HOW DARE I judge them for that because they ARE HAPPY they REALLY REALLY ARE.

And I'm like, "Whoa, all I said was that I'm a feminist."

I do get why women who are stay-at-home mothers might feel judged, frankly because some feminists do judge them. But, it's sad to me when women, especially, are so misinformed as to what feminism is and isn't and who is and isn't judging them for which choices. Feeling judged for being a stay-at-home mom suddenly becomes feeling judged for loving men, and having children, and liking to cook, and doing housework, and wearing make-up and feminism suddenly becomes a monolithic thing where every feminist in the whole entire world basically hates women now too (in addition to hating men, of course).

It's as though these women get their information about feminism not from actual feminists, but from the Concerned Women For America, Rush Limbaugh, or other purveyors of anti-feminist propaganda that hold it to be a self-evident truth that feminism is this big caricatured movement.

And so, from the feminist proposition that women can be more than housewives and more than sex objects for men, some women hear feminism telling women they must be more. From the feminist critique that society doesn't value women or women's work, some women hear feminism telling women that they and their work are without value.

Sadly, what often gets overlooked in these hyper-defensive statements like those of Ms. I Love Being Sexy For My Husband, is that more often than not, it isn't feminists who are hating and judging women. It's everybody else. But I suppose they get a free pass to do so.

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