Flash Fiction

A Feminism Conundrum

If this post makes you angry, you might consider your own positionality rather than mine. After all, this is my space, which you are free to vacate whenever you choose. I simply ask a bit of decency and respect — that if you disagree, that you do so appropriately.That said, here\’s the thing. There is a difference between feminism and ol\’ school Gone with the Wind \’femininity\’.It seems to me (again I say this: my space, my queries, my conundrums) that a person cannot shout \’feminist\’ out of one side of the neck, touting the need for equality and access to all things, but shout \’femininity\’ out of the other side of the neck when things don\’t go quite as planned.How can a person say a woman should be able to do the same things a man can but if she struggles at it, there should be some extra help? I recall people on both sides of the issue when the story came to light about the women who wanted to be in some branch of the military that was super top-secret, difficult to get into even for men, where if members told you what they did they would have to kill you. Ninjas, but for the military … Anyway, some said \’yeah, women should be in there!\’ but when the training was revealed, they said \’oh, wait — if women are in there, the rules should be a bit different; after all, women aren\’t as strong as men you know\’. Maybe that wasn\’t precisely it, but you get my point. I am not saying a woman should or should not be in there, but if she is, that suggests a playing field in and of itself. The rules are what they are, right?Now before you toss a copy of the Affirmative Action manual on my desk, hear me out. The purpose of Affirmative Action, originally, was to provide equal access to opportunities. That means getting into the US Military Ninja Corps (or whatever it was) is something anyone can do, not just men. Affirmative Action was not intended to change the rules once a person got into the ring. Affirmative Action means as an old lady, I have as much right to a job as a young man. It doesn\’t mean that I automatically get a corner office on the first floor that gets light all day because my knees dislike stairs and I get chilly so I need the sunlight. It just means I am given as much a shot as the young whipper snapper at getting hired. If I decide, as an old woman, to work in a warehouse, I can\’t drop my hankie (Gone with the Wind style with the femininity) and say I can\’t pick up that heavy, heavy box. I gotta figure out how to lift with my legs and not my back, just like young dude.How can a person say a man should take care of his children but it\’s problematic when a separation occurs and the man wants more say in the purpose and use of child support? I think specifically about those cases where the woman (since the point here is the whole woman and man discussion) says the man has no right to question how she spends the money she gets for the care of the child(ren), even when none of those dollars goes to feed, clothe, house, educate, or otherwise maintain said child(ren). It happens. There seems often a collective shoulder shrug — \’oh well, she\’s mom and that\’s just how it is\’ or \’he knew what he was getting\’. But flip it around: let the dad somehow have the child(ren) — a much rarer occurrence — and say he\’s going to spring for beer and regular 50-yard line tickets to the next football season games with that scratch being put in his account as child support. Nope. He\’ll have a greater chance of getting in trouble and having the child(ren) removed. In a world where feminism is queen, shouldn\’t a) men have as much a right to care for the child(ren) and question where the cash goes as women do?Why is it okay for men to talk about sex or be about it but women shouldn\’t? I have never gotten this one. I don\’t mean in a graphic sense but in general. Now, things are changing I think but for folks my age and older, it seems to still be a thing. I remember this church we used to go to; on what was called family night, the men did a lesson together and so did the women, the idea being same-gender groups could get down and discuss some things that they may not want to talk about together. Of course, on the ride home Christopher and I would share a little about our respective topics from that night. Once, I mentioned the tension in the room when intimacy came up. I think there was a topic on sex in the material and nearly every woman in the room got weird. Somebody said that she would never do the things the person in the story was alluding to. I didn\’t say anything for a bit and it was noticed, so I finally sighed and said something like, \’What people do in the privacy of their home or whatever, that they both agree to do, is their business.\’ Crickets. I once had a similar but different conversation with work colleagues (yeah: misnomer that women don\’t talk about sex … they just do it differently. And with more weirdness apparently …) where the topic was oral sex. There were several in the room who had no problem receiving but refused to give. I asked why and again, crickets.Later, a similar discussion came up amongst the men-folk. Christopher said the men were all about it. They openly discussed some of the issues they were having, both from the aspect of their own shortcomings as well as the things they would have liked in their relationships but never asked for because their wives or partners had made clear they weren\’t doing that. He said they ran out of time because the discussion was so rich.Maybe it\’s just me, but a woman putting a hand to the face and blushing ever so deeply when asked to engage in certain intimacies (and saying no, not doing that) or when discussing them but putting hands on hips and cracking neck to demand a man do similarly intimate things for her is problematic …Why is it okay for a woman to post negative memes and say all sorts of horrible things about her former intended but if a man does it, he\’s seen as horrible? Okay, it is not okay for anyone to talk about anybody. In these cases, there was love (or attraction, or lust, or something …) that put the two people together. A woman goes on a spree about how terrible men-folk are and gets thumbs up and smiley faces. No one grumbles and if they do, they are often ostracized, not invited to the tea party, seen as odd. It seems men more often get a finger shook at them if they go on a similar spree about how horrid women-folk are.The world goes down in flames when a man hits a woman but there seems no equal response when it comes out that she hit him first.Now, before you throw anything at me, listen: I am not saying that anyone should be pounding on anybody else. Having been on the receiving end of violence, I certainly do not condone it from anyone. However, no one should have to stand and be abused. If you get hit and hit back to defend yourself, is that a problem? Should it be gender-specific self-protection?What happened to the general idea of equal treatment that seems a thread to feminism discussions? Such a thing seems to mean everyone treats everyone good or bad …Or is it me?Seriously, someone help me understand?

4 Comments on “A Feminism Conundrum

  1. Well….. so much to answer to. 1 equal treatment should not mean the rules get changed. Totally agree. So if women are allowed into the secret ninja service they should be able to do all that is required or they should not get in. I personally don’t think that women should serve in certain military services, but that’s just me. If they want to put themselves there and they can handle it so be it. I would say that the reason it is poo poo ed when a man talks bad about an ex is because by and large there are far more relationship abuses committed by men, than women. I think that is just statistically so. That does not however excuse the bad behaviour on either part. There are men who are physically abused because they won’t fight back, and they often aren’t believed, and that is just awful. It makes my blood boil. I can’t stand any kind of abuse. As far as how child support money is spent…that’s a slippery slope because there is not a good or entirely fair way to regulate that. I had to pay support to my ex when he had our son, and I was happy to do it. Sex….hmm I have not experienced many women refusing to give oral sex, but expect it for themselves. I have experienced the opposite personally. I have a firm policy of it being equal. In other words I won’t give it they don’t. No one should expect something they are not willing to give, that’s just wrong…I don’t care who you are. Also, I have not experienced women having trouble talking about sex. Maybe it’s just the people I run with…I don’t know. I do think that some women take advantage….we still don’t have true equality, equal access to opportunity, and we have been oppressed and mistreated in general for so long that I think some women are very very angry. I consider myself a feminist. It is still very much a mans world. But hopefully things will continue to get more equal. I do not support men being mistreated. We all deserve common decency.

    1. Thanks, Dani! I don’t feel either way about who serves or doesn’t in the military. As a child of the wild 60s who was mortified by the notion of Vietnam and who is still hurt to the heart that people are losing legs due to landmines the US left there, right now, I would never join up. But that’s a whole ‘nother thing.I wonder about relationship abuses. We are still not out of the societal mindset that men need to buck up and be men (what does that even mean???), not cry, and all that rot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the various abuse count was pretty close to on par for males and females. I take into account emotional and psychological abuse along with physical confrontations there. I would further suspect that while many women may not actually duke it up with a man, they might berate him verbally, throw things, talk bad to others … which is still abuse. It still harms.I think child support should be regulated, just like social security payments for survivors. After the first husband died, my son got a social security payment because he has special needs. I had to submit a report each year to show how those dollars went to clothe, feed, and house him. I had to indicate what I put in savings for him. If I had to do that for a dead parent’s money, why should someone not have to do it for a live one?And the sex thing? Well, that’s probably a whole conversation in and of itself! I suspect, depending on age, it just didn’t feel proper to discuss intimate doings. I can feel that. I don’t put my business out on the street either. But to deny or make faces, to say outright what you won’t do for someone you love and more importantly to put down someone else who is bold enough to say what they will do for someone they love is problematic to me. That’s judgment and it’s wrong. So long as what goes on behind closed doors is consensual, it matters not.Common decency — yes. <3

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