Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ideas on Feminism

First off, I wouldn't call it Feminism. More like equal...something. Alright, so I can't invent catch phrases. For the sake of simplicity, I'll compare my ideas to stereotypical Feminism...partly because all I really understand is the general idea. I'm going on the assumption that there are a lot of people out there who have a similar grasp of the general idea.

What I've noticed is that most men probably wouldn't want to get involved in the movement. They might be neutral, maybe, but what motivation is there for them to get involved? I think that the reason for this – apart from upbringing and views on gender roles – is that the message they're getting is, “Hey you males, stop being jerks and let us succeed.” So, the contributions women can make are very active and positive ones, whereas the best a man can do is “not be a jerk”. Well, if he's lucky, maybe he'll get acknowledged as “supportive”.

Half the population is women, and not all women are on board; some don't want to give up their traditional roles, trading their independence (and sometimes rights) for security and dependency. If, in addition, hardly any men are Feminists, that basically guarantees a minority. So, if we really want equality of the genders, we need to focus on men as much as we focus on women.

Then there's the issue of "what is equality?" Is it simply giving women the same rights and opportunities as men? That's been done to some degree, at least in western culture, but even then the genders aren't equal. Expectations differ. So does the amount of work and type of work women tend to take on. For example, in a married couple, the woman might have the same income and work load as her husband, but she'll still tend to take on the majority of raising the children and household chores in addition!

It'd be easy to get off on a tangent about how women are getting the short end of the deal and need to stand up for themselves even more than they already do (which is true enough), but men are getting short-changed by traditional roles as well.

For example, if a couple gets divorced, who do you think is most likely to get the kids? And if the woman does most the work in raising the kids, doesn't that take away a lot of the joy as well as the responsibility from the father? (Not all the joy is in the fun and games, some of it comes from playing a major part in the kids' lives and the difficult day-to-day responsibility as well).

Another example: dating. Although occasionally the girl will ask the guy out, it's still more likely to go the other way around. I've seen a surprising number of comments online about how “you shouldn't have to ask a guy out. If he doesn't have the guts to approach you, he's not worth it”. Hmmm. So a girl says she kind of wants to ask a guy out, but doesn't have the guts...but if the guy doesn't have the guts, he's not worth it. And yet the girl is still so special that she deserves people taking risks for her sake, despite her unwillingness to do the same?

Now, I'm not about to say that anyone is worthless just because they're too nervous or inexperienced to tell their crush they like them, but I do think that people shouldn't expect something of others that they don't expect of themselves.

In other words, if you don't expect yourself to come out into the open, you'll have to deal with the possibility of the other person not coming out either. If you expect them to say something, it's only fair that you expect yourself to say something. Gender has nothing to do with it, except that boys take it for granted that they will have to learn how to ask girls they like out, and girls are not often trained in the skill or even used to the idea.

Relationships is another issue. Some women don't want to relinquish the security of a dependent role, and a lot of men don't want to give up the control and feeling of power/superiority that comes with their traditional role. However, there are women who do see the value in becoming more independent and self-assured, no matter the challenges of learning how.

Along the same lines, perhaps men could be encouraged to see the advantages in giving up some of that control and false sense of superiority; not having to be “the strong one” twenty-four seven and having someone that will help them with their problems, having someone to share each type of responsibility as well as each type of joy, being allowed to express a wider range of emotions, having a significant other who isn't like everyone else, and so on.

Both genders suffer from a lack of balance when they try to fit themselves into the cookie cutter moulds laid out for them by society. A relationship needs both mutual respect for the other person's strengths as well as acceptance and support for their weaknesses.