06 August, 2007

Feminism, or, Am I The Antichrist?

Where did all the sexism go?

Ok, I could be missing some gigantic important point here, and please don't hesitate to tell me if I am. But where exactly is all this oppression?

It seems to me that the remaining sexism is all quite high-level stuff, that not everybody will have to deal with. Men in big jobs earning more than women in the same big jobs, that kind of thing. Which, yes, I agree, is wrong and there is no reason for it to still be the case.
But in everyday life, I don't find myself being oppressed left, right and centre, as some people seem to imply we are.

I moved out of home at eighteen, after working for a year, and did all this stuff by myself (I know, brag, brag, brag) and not once has somebody told me I couldn't do it. Somebody once told me I should go home, but certainly not for sexist reasons - because Christ knows I had worked harder for it than he had. Nobody's ever condescended to me. Nobody has ever expressed surprise that a girl could do such a thing. Nobody has assumed how hard or easy it may have been for me.
I do not find myself overlooked or undervalued in the workplace simply because I have breasts, and an 'inny' rather than an 'outy' (as it were). I do not find that people - by which I mean men - treat me as if I am less intelligent (despite the fact that I'm blonde, as well as being female), or more fragile, than them. I don't find that I am excluded in social circles by value of being female - indeed I have as many male as female friends, and often find them less judgemental (not of me, I must point out - just generally).

In fact, you know what, I'm going to tell you something that I've learned from talking to a lot of men:


No shit. They really do. Men love women. Even gay men love women.

Men love the way women smell, the way they look, the way they laugh. They love the way they talk, and the way they walk, and the things they do. If you don't believe me, just ask one. They can speak for themselves.

A lot of women seem to find it offensive, now, when their partners or even male friends try to leap to their rescue all the time, but I don't understand that. I don't care what you say about modern enlightenment or the fact that we live in a different age, men have a basic instinct to protect, and that is all they are doing. Take it as a compliment that they think you're worth protecting. And you know what, I bet if any of them get hurt, even just get a little cut, you're right there administering the basic first aid, because women have a basic instinct to mother things. We are basically animals; however high-minded we get, whatever spirituality we practice or preach, when it comes down to it we are ruled by basic instincts that far predate our current rung on the evolutionary ladder. Girls, tell me you've never watched your boyfriend do something really manly - fix something in his car (preferably something where he gets all oily), or put up a shelf, or cut some wood - and thought "Yeah, I would." Don't tell me you think a man arranging flowers is just as sexy, because you're lying through the teeth of your instincts and you know it.

For all we might think we can complain about men stereotyping women, we do it quite a lot too - and nowadays, it's become increasingly fashionable to stereotype men in an incredibly negative way. Stupid, lazy, crude - hell, we even stereotype them as being sexist, which is both ironic and incredibly hypocritical. Just look at popular culture; it's full of blundering men, tolerated by secretly brilliant housewives. Homer Simpson. Peter Griffin. Tim 'the toolman' Taylor. It's everywhere. Do you think these stereotypes do anything to change this?

And another thing: a lot of the stereotypes are pretty accurate. Men can have issues expressing their emotions. What a surprise. It's hardly encouraged, is it? Ladies, do you like seeing a man cry? Would you make him feel like it was ok if he did? Right. Men can be 'possessive' or 'jealous' - it's because they're protecting you. Sure, you might not need it. But it's his instinct to do it, so at least be nice about it.
And as a woman, I can tell you I probably fit a lot of stereotypes. I can be a bit airheaded. I make funny little squealing noises when I'm tickled, or when there are bugs near/on me. I am helplessly drawn to cute fluffy things. I fiddle with my hair a lot. I overanalyse things. I am hopelessly forgetful. I'm not particularly career driven or ambitious; my overwhelming desire in life is to be happy and to have fun. (On the other hand, I am violently anti-having children... so I don't tick all the boxes just yet.)

Is it anti-feminist of me to enjoy cooking a meal for Dave, or giving him a massage? Is it anti-feminist of me to enjoy getting dressed up in a dress with a fancy hairdo for an evening? Is it anti-feminist of me to enjoy going dancing? Is it anti-feminist of me to like the fact that people think I am attractive? No, it isn't. It's natural. It's not anti-feminist to enjoy doing nice things for the person you love, and it's not anti-feminist to enjoy your own sexuality.

Finally, I'm going to really stick my neck out here and say that I sort of (i.e. I only formulated this idea a matter of minutes ago) believe that much of the anger women feel towards men, when they do feel it, is not because of anything men have done - it's because women feel, deep down, that they have it worse than men on a very basic level. It's nothing to do with salary or maternity leave or being able to go to a strip club. Women are pissed off because they have to have periods; because they have to carry the baby around for nine months; because they have to squeeze it out and because, traditionally, they can never escape from the role of mother - and, while they may not even want to do so, it doesn't seem fair that a man is much more able to just run off and father more sprogs.

Basically, even if rights were completely equal, I think there would be this divide between men and women. So yes, let's just get the wages thing sorted out, but then can we please accept: men and women are different, because they are different. Trying to be the same is stupid, and pointless; there needs to be a balance of male qualities and female qualities. Men and women are good at different things, and we need to get on and do the things we're good at, so stuff will work.

There! I said it! Oh, I am in for it now. Better start running.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in Mexico.

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