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.

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