By Rachel Cannon |Chronicle Blogger|
The fact that I feel compelled to start a women’s rights blog series with a justification for writing about feminism is, in itself, disappointing. But every time my assertion that I’m a feminist is met by an eyeroll or an incredulous “Why, do you hate men or something?” I’m reminded that the importance of women’s rights is still held in skepticism by this society.
Besides, any time I’m getting too confident about an improvement of women’s standing, all I need to do is flip on Fox News for a quick, bitter taste of reality. Greg Gutfeld pointing out that the National Organization for Women is irrelevant because “Women have, you know, all the rights…They can shop,” for example. Or I can turn on the radio to hear Rush Limbaugh remind me that the 96 percent of American women that use birth control are “prostitutes” and “sluts.”
Actually, any time I hear the word “slut” in any context I’m reminded of the importance of this kind of work.
Let me shatter several misconceptions right now. To be a feminist is not to hate men. To be a feminist is not to walk around with hairy armpits (although if you feel oppressed by the standards of female beauty that require daily shaving or waxing, more power to you). To be a feminist is not to yell or shake a fist at any well-intentioned man who opens a door or pulls back a chair.
Take a deep breath and stay seated because I’m about to rock your world with some pretty shocking, earth-shattering stuff:
To be a feminist is to believe that women are people, just like men are, and that we deserve equal rights and equal respect.
Wham. That’s it. And for this core belief, feminists suffer from a major stigma. “Feminism” is considered a dirty word. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a woman preface some opinion regarding the advancement of her gender’s own rights with the apologetic “I’m not a feminist, but…”
Here’s the thing. Unless you hate women, unless you think we’re a subhuman species, unless you honestly believe we deserve to be subjugated to the whims of men, unable to leave the house or work to support ourselves, you have no reason not to be a feminist.
I’m tempted to cite statistics for why improved quality-of-life for women actually benefits all of us. There are plenty, trust me. I could find countless examples of how women’s rights really mean the rights of all humanity.
But the thing is, I don’t think I should have to. The fact that we as a gender are deserving of respect and equality should be self-evident.
Sadly, the attitudes of many (both men and women) across the political landscape but primarily on the right suggest that the opposite is true.
Keep an eye on this space over the rest of this quarter for articles relating to gender issues that affect all of us, whatever our gender. Women’s issues are human issues.
I’m looking forward to the day that this column is no longer relevant. I’m hoping that day comes soon. But, sadly, I’m currently watching an O’Reilly Factor rerun in which Marc Rudov responded to the question of the downsides of a woman in the Oval Office with “You mean besides the PMS and the mood swings, right?”
I guess I’d better keep writing.