Today’s Watered-down Feminism: The Revolution that Ended with 140 Characters

May 1st, 2017

I would like to start with a quote from Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique:

“The feminists had only one model, one image, one vision, of a full and free human being: man. For until only recently only men (though not all men) had the freedom and the education necessary to realize their full abilities, to pioneer and create and discover, and map new trails for future generations. Only men had the vote: the freedom to shape the major decisions of society. Only men had the freedom to love, and enjoy love, and decide for themselves in the eyes of their God the problems of right and wrong. Did women want these freedoms because they wanted to be men? Or did they want them because they also were human?”

Today’s feminism has forgotten about the feminist revolution.

If the problem is too long to write about in a Twitter post then we just yell “smash the patriarchy!” and hope that someone else will take over from there.

Women did not decide to wear masculine clothes, take on masculine jobs, or try to have the rights and rituals of men; they were, and are, merely half of the human race trying finally to be their own masters. How convenient it seems that the very fact that these things were kept from women for so long happened to push them deeper into the home where men can then enjoy the luxuries of a wife who is wholly concerned about him, his offspring, and his home.

I can name many wrongs that the past has done to women in their human search for independence, freedom, and fulfillment, but that is not where we are currently.

See now, women are able to be in the workforce (albeit under many uncomfortable circumstances that society creates), but the problem is that women are slowly burning out.

Women’s reappearance in the work space did not lighten any of their previous load. They still occupy the main roles at home of supportive wife, child bearer, care taker, cook, house cleaner, food shopper, calendar keeper, dish washer, etc. So now, not only are women struggling alongside their male counterparts to earn a respectable place in the work space, but they are still full-time housewives; and on top of that there is still a presence of under appreciation in the workplace and prejudices against women and their abilities.

On the other hand, if they are not yet married, they have an added pressure of needing to meet a decent man before a certain age, when they will be cast aside as no longer young and fresh, or perhaps no longer in child bearing years.

If we are not careful, not only will women end up back in the home (where men around the world are very happy for them to stay, eternally their devoted wives and cheerleaders), but there will be a devastating burn out; women will find themselves completely spent, unmotivated to continue the fight, and will no doubt face many emotional and psychological issues as a consequence.

And so it seems to me that this is a twofold problem (a more detailed thesis will have to wait for a book):

  1. There can be no feminist revolution without the equal effort and helping hand of men. Especially each woman’s significant other, and the men who take up most seats in power.

The solution is this: we must first agree upon the belief that women have an equal right to pursue careers, passions, abilities, and basic fulfillment in their individual lives aside from husband or children. Once we’ve agreed upon that, we must agree upon the fact that both partners in a family unit have an equal responsibility to home and child-rearing.

Yes, at the present, if a couple wants to have children, it will still be the woman who carries the baby to term for nine months; involving all physical and emotional baggage that comes with that. Even during this stage her partner can be more involved, but the real involvement comes when the child is born. Not only does a new mother need a supportive partner for the challenge of caring for a newborn, but the family unit must start at this point to be one of equal partnership.

When a couple has a conversation about whether they should have children (yes this must start to be an important conversation), and when they would have them, the next conversation must ask of each partner what their individual life goals are, and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to have a family. The sacrifice no longer belongs to the woman in this family scenario. Now is the time when women need to say, “No. I will not put my dreams and goals aside. It is time for you to hold back as well.”

Women have always been seen as the natural attributes of submission, restraint, patience, and martyrdom. But these are not natural attributes so much as natural expectations. The time has come when men can no longer expect every woman in their life to put aside their dreams in order to fulfill the child-bearing destiny, and the continuation of his family name.

I would like to touch upon the fact that it takes two people in order to make a baby; a divine reminder that it takes two equal partners to raise a child as well. (And though I talk about practical child-rearing, this idea applies to men in power making family and working mothers a priority in government policies). Only when men are able to step down from their pedestal and get their hands dirty with the day-to-day essentials of child rearing and keeping home, will men and women both have an equal chance to use their abilities fully in the world. The monopoly that men have held for most of history has been exactly that: the chance to use their abilities fully and freely in the world, and in the shaping of their future and destiny.

I hope when this freedom is finally extended toward the female half of the human race, that we will also start seeing a healthy change in the unrealistic “ideal woman” that society and media expects of women today.

Which brings me to the second problem:

2. The advertising that society currently regurgitates at women has gone from perfect housewife to perfect sex object. In the switch from housewife to independent woman, the heads of advertising have used the switch to their advantage and present yet another unrealistic ideal for women: the perfect, unblemished, stick thin (yet somehow curvy), sexed up woman. And so through media, women are presented yet another cage to try and thrive in.

Women are sick today with expectations that they can never fulfill. Their value is in their looks. Yet another win for men, “If we can’t have them as submissive maids and mothers, we will use sexuality as freedom. The more they are concerned with dressing their bodies up, the less they will have the drive to take away our position of power.” In other words, occupy them with another mundane goal to fill their days and minds, so that they do not realize how subservient they are to a cruel society that never cares about them.

This may sound harsh, and I don’t mean to say that this is all intentional. But on a subconscious level, this is the way that history has repeated itself time and time again.

It’s not a secret that the brunt of anorexia and other eating disorders take over the lives of young girls and women, and not boys and men. We have created a disgusting society that expects women to be Barbie dolls in every sense of the word. Has a male clientele every opted to trim parts of their genitalia because it was not attractive enough for the opposite sex, or enlarge certain parts of their bodies for the sake of the “ideal?”

This is not acceptable any more. I refuse to raise daughters in a society that would rather they cut, mangle, and starve their bodies than believe that they have true value as a person. There is a reason this is targeted at girls and not boys; because boys are seen to have value just by being and achieving, but girls must gain their value through beauty, sex, or otherwise the return to feminine roles. All that aim to please men.

Thankfully, we are starting to see individual women standing up for their rights to a natural and healthy body image. But not enough to truly turn the tide. We need more women and men to reject societal norms and expectations of beauty and sex appeal.

I will teach my daughters that they do not need makeup or high heels to find a place in society; they will find their value in their talents, abilities, ideas, and kindness toward others.

I will raise them in a society that does not try to squeeze every ounce of self-esteem that they posses, in order to make a pretty penny off of their shame; even if it means tearing down every damn billboard myself.