Disclaimer: I was born and raised the United States. I have very little, if any, first hand understanding regarding the oppression of women in other countries. This post is my personal opinion from my perspective and experience only.
This post comes on the heels of me listening to a podcast from Coconuts & Kettlebells. I really enjoy these ladies, who they are, and all the topics they discuss. It really got me thinking….they made some very good points that changed my mindset around the word feminism.
Until this podcast, I generally have had a bad taste in my mouth with regards to feminism today.
Originally, feminism was about women acquiring equal political rights as men. Later it developed further into a woman’s right to work, earn wages to support her family, mostly out of necessity…because of World War II. Also, to gain control over her reproductive rights.
I do think that women working for the right to vote, to have a voice/to be heard was and is important. A woman’s right to work and not have children if she doesn’t want to…is important. And, the right to have a bank account and buy a house or car without a man’s endorsement attached to it. Feminism gave women freedoms and independence that we never had before. I am very grateful for the women who came before me that have allowed me to vote, work to support myself, and have an open opinion.
I also think that feminism has gotten out of hand in some regards. People always talk about feminism as the only option is that women have to work….break the glass ceiling and prove something to “the man’s world”. I think to a huge degree WWII and women moving into the workplace has had a tremendous negative effect on the family and home. The family loses a lot by the woman or mother working full-time. While I wouldn’t trade the rights that came to me through the course of historic events around feminism, we must also remember that women were designed to hold the family and home together.
Feminism has caused me grief over the years, I think about what my life may have looked like had I lived in a different generation. Would I be happier? What would it be like to only do the things that God innately built into me, instead of a constant fight to make my way through a “man’s world”?
Make no mistake….women have come a very long way in the U.S., but we aren’t there yet…it is STILL a man’s world. Companies like to talk about the glass ceiling, but let me tell you first hand that ceiling is there. Every large organization I’ve worked for has some sort of group that focuses on women’s development and promotion. If equality between men and women in the workforce wasn’t an issue anymore we wouldn’t need or have these groups. Their very existence proves there is still a major issue with equality in the workplace. Equality doesn’t exist in positions held or pay scale and other perks/benefits. Any woman who has “made it” to the top of the food chain in corporate America has done so, because she has worked 2 or 3 times harder than her male counterparts, because that is what is required of her to do to “make it” and keep it. That doesn’t sound very equal to me.
In the podcast, Stefani mentions how men interrupt women when they are talking all the time. Here is something else interesting on that subject. They also talked about the objectivity of women. I found this particularly interesting…I don’t think that we should be used for our bodies or treated as objects. However, women’s bodies are beautiful and I don’t know one woman that doesn’t like it when her man makes her feel desired in a primal objectified kind of way. There is power in beauty. We are powerful creatures and when we start believing that we are and acting like we are…a true revolution in feminism will occur. We have to stop giving our power away.
I am fortunate that I’ve been a strong and independent minded person since I was a very young child. My Dad taught me to work hard and gave me ethical standards. My Mom taught me to persevere, use my will, and wit to achieve my goals. She taught me that I was not less than anyone, including my male bosses….”I work with them…not for them”. Knowing my value as a person and knowing what value I can add to someone, team, or company has allowed me to stand my ground…fight for what I deserve and speak my mind when I do not think something is right.
Women are still discriminated against….there is no doubt about it. But, we are not victims. We are not required to be passive bystanders in our lives. We have to be the change we want to see. We have to act according to our convictions. We have to teach the other women around us. We have to not settle and not give our power away. We have to change our mind-sets about who we are in the world and what we are capable of before any real change can occur.
In this day in age, women are not free to be the women we were designed by God to be. The expectations that are laid on us is to not only be the nurturing, care-giving, family building creatures we are, but to also do all of that while working full-time jobs in a man’s world, and all that comes with too. At the end of the day, as much as we want to, as much as we try to, we cannot do it all – keep it all together all the time – it is physically impossible. If we did a random survey of women across the U.S. of working wives and moms, I would wager that they would tell you that their health and mental well-being is suffering and lackluster because they are trying to do it all. Where do we draw the line?
I drew the line, I had to, my health and mental well-being has suffered tremendously and frankly still is. I had to make a choice to not have children in lieu of working full-time (if children were in my cards, I wanted to stay home and raise them). I hired a housekeeper to help clean the house, because I’m not home more than I am home. I sometimes choose to not cook or do laundry when I know I “should” because I’m tired and my physical and mental health is more important at that time. There are always trade-offs in life. You cannot have it all. You have to choose.
So while the feminist movement has made some positive strides for the rights of women, it has also created a social standard for women that is unrealistic and is breaking down women’s health and our families.