Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lioness or Feminist?

I am reminded of the lyrics to "Meet Virginia" - I want to live this life, and I don't really want to live this life (this life meaning a way of life, not life itself).

So, honest self-assessment:  I want to further equal rights.  Yet I appreciate being a woman, I don't consider myself extremely masculine, it's just not me.  Further, I don't believe that men are assholes, in fact I rather like men.  I understand most women don't want to do what I want to do.  But I believe everyone should have the right to try and if they're capable than you shouldn't be allowed to hem us in.  Women should have the freedom to fail like any man for any job.  So, being a soldier, I am uncomfortable with the Combat Exclusion Policy, because it establishes a restriction before I can begin to analyze whether or not I even want what the policy says I can't have.  And the attention I draw to this, and the desire I have for people to at least make educated decisions on this... make people label me as a feminist.  Which I don't appreciate, not because I don't support women's rights, but no one wants to be a feminist.  Who would listen if I said I was a feminist?  And do I even consider myself one?  It's hard enough now to get people, primarily men but some women too, to listen and really hear me and I try to emphasize that at this point I don't really consider myself a feminist.  But on the feminist issue, I had to look this quote up, got it from my sister, and then laugh when I saw it is attributed to controversial Christian televangelist host Pat Robertson:

"The Feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."


Regardless if he actually said it or not, this sort of statement sums up my frustration with the term "feminist".  I am a woman, and I believe that women should be treated equal to men in society.  Equal is a tough thing to determine.  Equal does not mean in every instance exactly the same.  But it's the American way too isn't it?  That every man has the same opportunity.  I should hope that implicitly this means every man and woman.  I don't think this supposition, or hope, or wish makes me feminist.  Perhaps I am an idealist.  I wish that we were all mature enough for such a world to exist.  It is disappointing that instead of becoming educated, so many argue with me based on pure opinion.  They cite out of date studies.  They have never perused a compendium or so much as an article about women in combat.  They haven't asked and challenged a superior officer on the subject.  Or just asked and listened to her if she believed women ought to be allowed in some jobs and roles.  I have listened to men and women alike.  I have been told just how wrong I am, and how incapable, how my menstruation and smaller muscular structure and mere gender will get me and others killed out there on some isolated combat outpost or on a patrol outside the wire.  I have listened a lot more than most men out there realize.  I have sympathized with their arguments, and I have wondered many times if this country really is ready.
But I feel like insofar as capability to deliver a positive message, the feminist movement and anyone who declares themselves a feminist only discredits their own argument in moderate to conservative circles. In my mind, the term and the movement have lost a lot of power.  Now women's rights activists or lobbyists or advocacy groups exist and the term feminist has a stigma women want to stay away from.  A freshman today when asked what she thought about the combat exclusion policy by a male cadet whose opinion was obvious replied,

"Well I have no aspiration to be in any sort of combat unit.  The only people who really push for it are the feminists who want to do those sorts of jobs.  And I had to research a little the history of the policy, and the other argument was about how men would want to protect the women."

at which point a sophomore piped in,

"Yeah there's a study that proves that."

at which point I piped in,

"There's also a study that shows that under life-threatening conditions your survival is top priority regardless of gender.  Whose to say which study is more correct?"

because come on, there's a study?  Of course there is.  There are plenty of studies that prove both ways.  And more recent studies have proven the opposite of older studies.  Older studies said that women were naturally psychologically worse-equipped to deal with gore... but then what about war nurses?  The conversation I couldn't remember word for word, but I just remember the freshman saying explicitly that only feminists want this opportunity.

What Feminists? Who here would say they are a feminist? The Feminists are Dead.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Holding my Breath in Consideration

Trying to accomplish a lot with the beginning of the year is a great undertaking.

This weekend I bought some spaghetti-O's, a bowl, a dustbuster, and trashbags.  I re-made my bed, and washed and ironed my uniform.  It was a short weekend.  This month I plan on a couple of big purchases for my birthday and the room.  My roommate and I want a fridge.  I also would like a rug.  She would prefer a futon.  I'm not as interested in the futon.  We can't have overnight guests even if my friends could visit, so... it's a luxury I'm not interested in.

I've got to get cracking on my thesis essay, double check which major I'm trying to get honors in, and ace my law class if that's possible, so far I'm not feeling it.  Law of Armed Conflict is a tough bird, and the instructor is hard for me to read.

Have been hanging out more with peers who are in my company.  It's been fun although a little awkward at times for me.  I want to hang out with my classmates, I like to, but sometimes I feel a little bit like I'm off-foot.  A lot more people get the vibe that I'm a feminist, which I'm not sure I like.  Do I seem like an angry one?  I feel more weary than angry, more tired than vehement, more exhausted than driven.  I just think it's interesting that another girl I spoke to recently about women in combat said we weren't ready and she couldn't feel like that if there weren't enough women in leadership positions.  So this is the answer?  Role models, what about instances where there were no role models?  We have to learn to do things by ourselves, too.  There aren't enough women for us to each pick one to follow, we'll have to blaze our own trails too.


I had to add to this post because my torn feelings returned in time for me to add them.  I had made up my mind to not do Sandhurst because I am reluctant to get hurt my Firstie year for a competition I've done once in my life.  I changed my mind when the squad leader stopped by and basically asked me to stay as long as I still wanted to do the competition.  I do still want to do the competition in many ways.  I'm a competitive person, I'm fit, I love shooting, I believe it's practical and applicable.  But I question if I have the motivation anymore.  I don't feel a deep longing in me to do it anymore.  I feel obligated to do it now.  I keep changing my mind.  Little things set me off, so this morning I felt fed up with something frivolous and I can't imagine giving up any of my saturdays for this.  In the end, what is it that I don't want to do?  Who are my friends?  Are more of them on or off the team?  I need to do some soul-searching.  The trainer recommended if I didn't have to do the competition he wouldn't recommend doing it.  But this was more from sandhurst teams pushing too hard too fast in their train ups.  More mind-numbing mind-changing to follow.  I hope to reach a conclusion by the end of the month.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting off 2011

Every time I'm home I read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.  I admit I didn't finish it this time but it's going with me.  I did finish All Quiet on the Western Front and Squirrel seeks Chipmunk.  Anyway I'm taking my Kinsella book with me, along with a framed gift from several years ago and several more articles of clothing than I arrived with.  At least I'm only leaving with one extra pair of shoes this time...  and to be fair I am leaving behind a pair of boots to be fixed... at any rate.

This has to be quick because once again I'm packing up until the hour I leave my dusty hometown yet another year.  I am in a slight panic.  I love this city somewhat.  I love the food here anyway.  And here I love sleeping in so late.  I love being able to study whatever comes to my fancy.  I admit I wish I had a car here, and an apartment maybe... but only for a little bit.  I would want to travel again.  But for now I am a little sad.  I want to stay... tomorrow I go back.

My hair is in worse shape but I haven't bit my nails since being home, which is highly unusual.  I stayed in for New Years and I won a cash game of poker, Texas Hold 'Em.  While on break, I told a guy off.  I went downtown with my cousin.  I played the new Kinect by Xbox.  I was kicked out of a club technically.  I went to a sports bar and bowling with my other cousins who I don't see as often.  I went to a new gym with family too, tried civilian-style Crossfit.  I saw my grandpa twice.  I ate menudo.  I drove to clear my mind.  I went to Zumba classes with my mom a couple of evenings.

My New Year's Resolutions are varied and complex - I'd like to think anyway - I'll develop them as time passes.  Right now the 50meter target is the flight in less than 3 hours.  Then it's getting to school in one piece.  Than reorganization half-week.  Than classes.  It's going to be a lot and it's going to be so great.  By the time I relax it will be my twenty-first birthday which I cannot wait for!  I have a thesis to finish and get ready to defend.  I have a lot more research to do, a second semester in German to schedule, and a spring break plan to make.  I have, I have, I have.  I am feeling very happy and absolutely have to finish packing now!  More on my goals next time!  Soon I take flight!