In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote a book. It’s a fairly well known title, and a staple textbook in many a college women’s study class. It’s a great look into the proscribed roles in life that our mothers were breaking away from, even as our grandmothers couldn’t understand what was wrong and men sniffed or rolled their eyes. (Or did worse.)
You may have heard of it, whether mentioned in praise, for study, or in general disgust. It’s called The Feminine Mystique.
(Remember that post-feminism world rant I told you about? Brace yourself.)
It was just the start of a great movement, just the first attempt to put into words a problem that so many women faced but couldn’t give voice to. Just the start of a small revolution that people seem to think is somehow finished. Right. Finished. As though somehow the feminist fight, like the civil rights fight, is finished. Like women can be lawyers and CEOs now, so everything is a rainbow magic land, so why are people still harping on about that old, tired movement from history that nobody really needs to talk about?
It’s not so unusual to hear from the mouths of men, childish about and possessive of their privileges as they are, to whine about feminism. Since the movement of feminism began they have tried to write it off as a phase, to suggest that really just women were unsatisfied in their sex lives. Which, okay, I’m sure they were. But that wasn’t the problem, and it still ISN’T the problem. It works for men to turn the feminist movement into a ‘man-hating’ or ‘reverse oppression’ (oppression my ass) movement because it makes them feel better about themselves, about the privilege they enjoy and the rape culture that’s propagated through the patriarchy. It’s easier to look at bra-burnings and the extreme ends that feminists resorted to in the ‘70s when they were desperate not to be written off and to tell women ‘Don’t actually fight for your own autonomy, your own freedom, your own rights. You can vote! You’re allowed to have a job! Look, if you stick with feminism you’re clearly just an unfeminine lesbian who wants to burn her bra. Join the ranks again and be content.’
There’s nothing to be content about. Feminism isn’t won. Feminism hasn’t even gotten more than half-way to the ultimate goal! And yet more and more I hear or see women, in person, on TV, over the internet, and that is exactly the shit that’s coming out of their mouths. Yes, things are different than they were in the ‘10s, ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Yes, we’ve gotten to a point where women aren’t going to be burned for speaking out of turn or having ideas. We’ve managed to get to a point where women are expected to be able to read and write as a basic component of education, and that’s awesome. Many, many things are better, and pretty much anyone born after 1980 takes this ‘better’ for granted, because hey – we don’t live under the thumb of religion, right? At least we’ve got it a fuck of a lot better than the Arab world, or something, right?
What the fuck is wrong with you?
How the hell can you think that this ‘better’ is good enough, and how do you DARE think that we don’t still have all of these problems? Having the vote isn’t close to being an indication that feminism’s work is done. Sure, a male boss probably isn’t going to tell you that he’s so happy to be getting ‘the same brains for less money’, but if feminism had done it’s job we wouldn’t still be making 70 cents to a man’s dollar for the same damned job. If feminism had finished it’s work, day care and job schedule flexibility would be available for all mothers in all sectors and women wouldn’t be pressured to choose family or career. It would be a given that men could get off their assess to do some fucking laundry every now and then, because they’re not fucking children. “Boys will be boys” would be banished from our vocabulary because there is NO reason that boys should get away with shit based solely on their private parts that girls aren’t given the same leeway with. Toys wouldn’t be colored blue and pink and girls wouldn’t be under pressure to be princesses all the damned time. A boy would be able to wear pink without being called “girly”, and people would appreciate that a girl can play sports, or punch you in the face.
Don’t forget that even as we speak one of the most fundamental rights a woman can have in regards to her health is under attack from men on all sides of the country! Because obviously old white men know better than a woman and her doctor what is best for her body. Obviously old white men are better at making choices about shit that they will never experience, and that’s why their laws about women’s bodies should be accepted. Because obviously women are still just here to be incubators and milk cows – even if they don’t want to be.
All because things are “better”. “Good enough”. So good enough that now, apparently, we need a new counter-movement! They call themselves Male Rights Activists and I have nothing but a couple middle fingers for them. It’s not just men; there are even women who are joining in. Because men have done such a good job of making feminism into a dirty word that even women are getting swept up in images of lesbians with sledge hammers taking swings at poor, innocent men who only want to keep the women suppressed and in their place oh it’s so fucking sad!
Good enough is never good enough. If good enough was good enough than we wouldn’t still be so goddamned hypocritical in our attitudes towards femininity and female sexuality. Girls are supposed to be beautiful, they’re supposed to try and attract boys so they can propagate the human race, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. Don’t wear a skirt too short! Or a shirt cut too low! If you do that than you’re naughty! If you don’t take enough precautions, and you let yourself have the same kind of fun that men have, so you probably deserve it if they try to take advantage of you. After all a girl is being too sexy.
And let’s not forget how women have to have special literature. Because how could men enjoy ‘chick lit’? It’s all about… you know, relationships! Love! Not killing things but maybe communicating with them! Or dealing with emotions and figuring out how to go about expressing them! Because that’s GIRLY. Not for MEN. If that’s not a direct piece of bullshit from the Patriarchy, I don’t know what is. But girls are accepting of it. We’re accepting of it because that’s how we’re raised, and it’s so fucking pervasive that we don’t even consider it might not be normal.
If you’re going to sit there and tell me that feminism is over? That its work is done? I don’t even know how hard to hit you over the head with a frying pan. I’m letting you in on this secret for your own good, children: Feminism isn’t over. You may want to be a housewife, and that’s absolutely fine. But don’t you dare stop fighting for your sisters for whom that life isn’t fulfilling. Complacency will cost you just as much as it will them.