7.18.2011

on feminism

When I was in high school I drove an awesome car. One time I was in a Walgreen's parking lot with a dead battery. I had my friend Rachelle bring her car around, and I took out the jumper cables to jump my little convertible. And really, guys, I am a pro with jumper cables. As I was setting up, this man came over and asked if I need help. I politely declined, because, really, I knew what I was doing. This man, however, clearly didn't believe me and stood by watching me connect the cables to my battery and offering unsolicited and condescending advice. Once my car started (because I knew it would), this man looked at me and said gruffly, "Well, I guess you did know what you were doing."

{So here's the thing, readers: I am a feminist, and my guess is that you are too.}

I'm not a bra-burning, men-are-the-worst feminist. I don't like that strain of feminism. I'm a feminist who subscribes to the most basic of feminist principles: equality. And by equality I don't mean that I think gender should be socially negated. Because it shouldn't. Gender is important. By equality, I mean that men and women should be given the same rights and have their responsibilities be treated with the same amount of respect. I don't think that men are inherently better than women and I also don't think that women are inherently better than men.

While the feminist fight used to be about voting rights and the glass ceiling (and maybe still concerns the latter), my own feminist fight is more about sex.

The media tells me that I need a waist two sizes smaller with a chest size two sizes bigger. I need a toned abdomen, a tight butt, and makeup that always looks professional. The media also tells me that as a woman, I really don't matter much. My body is sexualized to sell everything from shoes to burgers. The media tells me that really all I'm good for is selling beer and gum. And TV shows and movies often don't help. Just look at Penny on The Big Bang Theory, who, while likeable, is a valley girl with zero smarts. Or the girls in the Transformer movies, who play nothing but a damsel-in-distress.

What are my daughters going to think when they see their female counterparts plastered half-naked on billboards or—let's get real—half-naked in the classroom among their peers? What are my sons going to think when they see women objectified and debased so publicly? Don't women realize that by subjecting themselves to the media like that they're in fact diminishing their power?

Thankfully, positive portrayals of women do make a media appearance. I want to expose my family to strong female characters like Hermione Granger and Molly Weasley from Harry Potter, Jo March from Little Women, Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, Sarah Prine from These Is My Words, and Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. I want my children to know about my grandmothers, both women full of faith, grit, and joy. I want my daughters and sons to look at Josh and me and see a marriage based on the gospel, on respect, and on teamwork.

Even though I see sexualized women—and even sexualized little girls—everywhere in the media, I do interact with real women everyday through church, work, friends, and blogs. I know what a real woman is, and she is the woman I aspire to be, even if that means I'm imperfect and struggling. I want to be real. While the world may disagree with me, I know that when I'm a mother I will be making a bigger difference in the world than any corporate executive or movie producer. I refuse to contribute to Satan's lie about women and sex.


As women, we are real. Flawed? Sure. Beautiful? Absolutely. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

14 comments:

emilymcb said...

love this.

m.estelle said...

here here!

Jill said...

It's a daily battle to block out those messages, but the older I get the easier it gets and the sadder it seems to me. I see so many girls/women falling for it and it looks ridiculous to me.

A Mitton said...

So this might be somewhat inappropriate, but it also feels totally appropriate

HELL YES.


Oh you have no idea how much I agree with you. It's like we're the same person.

Denise said...

LOVE this. Love you. I mean, REALLY love you.

Hellobridgett said...

Amen.
I think that one thing that contributes to why some women put up with this lack of respect is that they lack true self-esteem. (Not thinking you look good. That's not self-esteem.) Knowing my self worth and that I am a daughter of God got me though my adolescence. I think that if more women knew that, this wouldn't be as big of a problem and it wouldn't be nearly as hard for girls to gain confidence in the first place. It's kind of a vicious cycle.

Did that all make sense?

michelle said...

AMEN, sister. I'm a feminist, too! (By the way, for this reason – among others – it's sometimes terrifying being a parent to girls. and boys.)

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Bravo!

Ande Payne said...

I loved this post. I especially loved your line, "I refuse to contribute to Satan's lie about women and sex." It all just rings so true! I also loved your literary examples, I'm sure our children will be sick of us shoving books with great heroines down their throats, but they will thank us one day! Great post.

Watson Family said...

Awesomely wonderful post!!!

Cami! said...

you will love this quote by 'Hermione' who is my favorite literary character EVER!

http://www.millennialstar.org/emma-watson-on-modesty/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheMillennialStar+%28Millennial+Star%29

Diana said...

wow just wonderful. You need to have this published, maybe in the Ensign?

Breanna said...

I love this. It makes me a little bit terrified to be a mom to a little girl (yikes!) but I can't wait to teach her how to be a confident, smart woman! Well said.

paws said...

One time I changed a flat tire in a dress while two or three of my male friends stood by and watched.

Another time I stood by and watched while an unknown gentleman fixed a flat on my road bike. I could have done it myself, but was happy to get out of it. LOL

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