When feminism comes to mind, or when being a feminist comes up in conversation, the number of upturned noses and sighs that I have heard is ridiculous. It’s almost like they’re saying, “oh here she goes again.” My ‘idea’ of feminism goes beyond marching in a rally for women’s rights and standing up for a fellow woman when she isn’t being treated fairly in a social context. It goes beyond saying I am a feminist because honestly there are so many loose definitions of what being a feminist is. Yes, I support women, yes, I strongly believe that women should have equal rights and opportunities as men, but I also don’t believe in taking away those rights or opportunities for men. It’s a stretch in this world but equality is what should be found, not genders against genders. What I see as a feminist mindset someone else might not.
While reading Rivkin and Ryan’s Introduction: Feminist Paradigms, my mouth was wide open. I couldn’t believe that this was the way people divided men and women. Essentialists views on feminism made me think that only woman can have a feministic view on life, but what about those people who aren’t women or who transition into women/men or who are gender neutral and don’t identify male/female? They can have a feminist view on life without being a woman. That these women and men were so different and so far away from each other in the thought of living. “…the space that is the prop for male philosophical speculation or abstract thinking) is irreducible to male Western conceptuality; outside and making possible, yet impossible to assimilate to male reason, matter is what makes women women, an identity and an experience of their own, forever apart from male power and male concepts” (Rivkin & Ryan, 767). When I read this, I couldn’t believe that before feminism and during the time of essentialist feminism, people thought that men and women were basically different species. Yes, women give birth to children and the pre-Oedipal bond between mothers and their children is something that men cannot do. However, typically the playing field between men and women is quite equal. People are people; there shouldn’t be a requirement for men to become men, and no requirement for women. How can we REQUIRE a separation between mother and son for that boy to become a man? Freud talked about that Oedipal concept for the father to step in and create a boundary but he didn’t say that was to create a man. He said that it was to create someone who was no longer interested in having sexual relations with his mother.
This world we live in now is not perfect, not even close, and women and men are still treated so differently, but I can personally say that we are not so different, and men can do what women can (besides having children) and women can do what men can. The only real difference is the way that we are born and the physical form of each gender. The last few months I have been building onto the house I bought; I put up drywall, mudded, laid down flooring and you know what? Construction isn’t just for men, flooring isn’t just for men, painting and staining aren’t just for men. This world has been so one-sided for so long and people have been so focused on the fact that women and men are so ‘different’ and that they will never be equal because, how can they? We shouldn’t have to live in a world where people believe that men are superior or where women must fight for decades for equal rights for themselves and their ‘sisterhood’; it should just be a given.