If you believe that a white middle class Christian male cannot have an opinion on feminism you should probably stop reading. However, if you believe that a white middle class Christian male can have an opinion on feminism please continue reading.
I have read two news articles in the last twenty four hours that are unsettling. Both of the articles, which I will discuss at length in a minute, involve feminism and the lack of support some feminist show for their fellow sisters.
The first article was about Kristen Dunst and her comments about gender roles. She said “I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued…We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking — it’s a valuable thing my mom created. You need your knight in shining armor. I’m sorry, you need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s why relationships work”. Her comments have outraged some folks. I think the problem here is that people will take a comment the way they want to and not consider the alternative to what is being said. Not for one second do I believe is she bashing a career woman. She even stated we all need our own jobs and money. It is my opinion that she is defending the stay at home mom. Too many feminist think this has become a dirty word and an unwelcomed icon. Some feminist speak in ways about stay at home moms that are abhorrent. Some believe that stay at home moms have no goals, are bored, and unmotivated. While they are entitled to their own opinion, I find that notion insulting. A stay at home mother wears many hats and is no one thing. They work hard and collectively keep society together. A mother imparts traditions, values, and meaning into the next generation. She builds up a nation’s next set of leaders. I can’t think of a more influential career that can claim those duties for a job description.
Yet, there are other women out there on the internet who sit behind a key board and judge women that desire to raise a family instead of having a career outside of the home. Frankly, some of these woman are down right sour and cruel. Erin Ryan, a feminist blogger, had this opinion “Kirsten Dunst is not paid to write gender theory so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s kind of dumb about it,”. These comments are layered with venom and apparent dislike for a fellow woman who expressed her opinion that there is nothing wrong with a woman who decided that she wants to raise a family. These “mommy bloggers” sit behind there keyboard and do the very thing they claim they hate and dislike. They judge her and mock her for expressing an opinion that differs from their own.
Feminism has done great things for women and has pushed many social boundaries. Personally, I think women should have the freedom to live their life in they way they decide. If a young woman desires to seek education and have a career more power to her. If a woman decides to get married and have children and become validated that way, more power to her. If a woman desires both a family and a career and both, as a team, she and her husband find a way to make it work more power to her. Aren’t these the sentiments that modern feminist need to be sharing? Should this not be the attitude that mommy bloggers have instead of tearing down other women who choose more traditional lifestyles? It seems to me that some feminist only perpetuate the stereotype of the angry woman because they choose to tear down other woman who choose a different life path. I consider myself a feminist because I believe both men and woman are equal. I believe that traditional roles are okay but I also think modern ways of thinking are fine too. If a father wants to stay at home and the wife works that’s fine. What ever works for that family. If both want to work out side the home, great. There is no one way to raise a family. However some feminists act in a way that suggests woman who wish to be stay at home mothers are dismantling the movement altogether. Instead, aren’t they just enhancing the belief that a woman has the right to choose how to live her own life?
The second article discusses Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is a feminist icon that has traveled the world discussing women’s rights. She has a compelling story. She was raised in a Muslim family. Ayaan suffered abuse and traumatic experiences as a girl. She was raised in time of civil war in her country, she endured genital mutilation, beatings and arranged marriages. All at the hands of her culture that is perpetuated by radical Islam. She has sense renounced her faith and has actively worked toward building rights for women and girls all over the world. She has been outspoken about radical Islam and now Brandeis university has decided to not give her an honorary degree because of it. Originally, they had decided to present her with one but due to her outspoken beliefs they are reversing their offer. Honestly, I think the college should have done their research before making it public who they were going to give an honorary degree. I’m not really bothered they want to take it back. I just think the reasoning behind it is off putting and this is the crux of the argument.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a victim of radical Islam. The culture of radical Islam in the middle east is oppressive. Women in that part of the world have very little if any rights. They have honor killings where they kill women in the town square who have disobeyed their husband. Women who have been raped are seen as less than. NOT the rapist. That is a problem. Those aspects of radical Islam are problems. I would think they would be picked up by the feminist movement. After all they are problems that women face in these countries. Ayaan is trying to bring light to this and is not backed up by her counter parts. Instead, Muslim groups are stating that she is perpetuating hate. That what she is saying is Islamophobia. I am completely baffled that any organization could stand up and accuse anyone who would be against these egregious acts as Islamophobic. It is not Islampohobic to be against honor killings, or genital mutilation, rape, or treating women like second class citizens. Radical Islam supports these ideas. These are the things that should be corrected to better protect the women who are suffering from these things.
It is important to state that the above mentioned acts are associated with radical Islam. I am in no way accusing regular Islamist of this outrageous behavior. These behaviors are not perpetuated by the majority of the Islamic population. I use the same analogy for Christians. Most of us Christians are ashamed of the behaviors of the Westboro Baptist Church. It is my belief that most Islamic individuals feel the same way and I recognize the bad behavior is done by the minority. However, its still destructive behavior that desperately needs to be addressed.
I felt these two articles were somewhat relating sense they are concerned with women’s rights. I felt like they both are feminist issues that everyone should be concerned with. Whether it is feminist demeaning other women for choosing a different life path or the destructive behavior of radical Islam to women both need to be assessed and work toward a solution.
I was taught growing up respect, responsibility, equality, and fairness. These things were never described to me in terms of feminism. However, when I learned the tenants of feminism in college I quickly discovered that I was raised a feminists. I not only respect women but individuals and I think ultimately that is what feminism is about. Empowering every individual in a way that puts them in control of their own life.
This in itself is humbling.