You, like most people, largely believe in equality. Life is unfair, sure, and sometimes bad people or unlucky people or simply other people don’t get what’s fair and deserved. But, mostly, as a rule, you too agree that people should be equal.
Equal opportunities and access? Sure. Equal pay for equal work? Obviously. Equal freedom from judgment and bias? Yes. Equal social standing regardless of geography? Again, yeah. Equal acknowledgment of shitty things done in the past (and, unfortunately, to this day?) In theory–if nothing else–yes again. Are you a feminist?
Of course you are.
But just because you believe in equality, as both a theory and a practice, doesn’t simply make all things equal. You know this already.
However, this isn’t a discussion about logic or sympathy or empathy. This isn’t a discussion about history or rights or being correct. This, my friend, is an epistemological reframing of our collective vision. This is about perspective. These are the corrective lenses getting us back to our optimum viewing ability. It’s 20/20. Is it hindsight? No. Is it feminism?
Of course it is.
Feminism is a lot of things. I’m no expert, but even from this view on the couch I can see it being called militant, out-dated, liberal, a dream. I see it being made fun of Portlandia. I see it demonized on Twitter. I see it disdained at best, ignored at worst, by our near illiterate buffoon of a president-elect.
But are those things definitions? No. They’re views. They’re perspectives. They’re ways of talking about a concept that is talking about another concept: equality. A personal view of the way we wish things were. Even in this ugly world, we can still hope for that.
Feminism makes us all better people.
I’ve talked with several male friends who have had daughters as their first or only children. We’ve continually shared thoughts about how refreshing and enlightening it’s been to be fathers to women. Sure these conversations are at heart self-serving, but so are thoughts of self-betterment. The truth is, we all want to be better people. Even if you think you’re already pretty good (I envy you), we too wish that other people could be better as well (if only everyone else on the road was as good a driver as I am.)
What having a daughter teaches me as a father is that my worldview is not the only one. Such a realization isn’t empathy, or even love. It’s a daily–often frustrating–reminder that I go about life in determined ways, and that I can share those ways and espouse those ways and sometimes demand those ways from others, but in the end I have to admit (typically over a bourbon or beer after the kids are asleep) that my way is just one way, and that even if it’s not necessarily wrong, it doesn’t work for everyone.
I am not a girl, certainly not a 3 year-old one. I’d like to think that this fact will get easier to rectify, but something tells me the rest of my life with my daughters is gonna be spent on parallel tracks.
Does my hope that our tracks will get closer over time make me selfish? Probably. But does my more realistic hope that our tracks will take us through life together, allowing them to have every opportunity equal to that I had as a man, make me a feminist?
Are you a feminist for even seeing a modicum of empathy, logic, or love in this otherwise objective view?
Of course you are.
This is an excerpt from my “Self, Help!” manuscript How to be a Good Dude.
The fact that I have Margaret Glaspy joining so many other women on this year’s list doesn’t make me a feminist, though. Nor is it a subtle attempt at putting my finger on the scales of equal representation. It’s just that she, like the other amazing female artists on my list this year, kicked complete and total ass. This song is blazing, with a raised eyebrow of vocals over some crunchy guitar licks. This isn’t feminist rock, or manly posturing. It’s just great music. Equal in anyone’s ear. Of course it is. Rock out or get out of the way.
(But, yeah, I also get the irony of this song and lyrics for this post.)