I recently read a rage-filled fundamentalist post on women’s right to vote (and that women should not have that right) and I secretly thanked feminism for allowing me to be an individual in this society – or any society really.
So what does feminism mean to me? Does it mean “Yay I get to wear pants”? Sure, but that’s really just a side-joke.
It means my husband cannot quit MY job when he thinks I don’t do enough housework. He does not have the ability to cage me at the home and to rob me of my means to make money both for me and for my children (and potentially for him). It means that I will not suffer from the fact that I have no job experience, resulting in the fact that I have only two life choices: Divorce and poverty, or an unhappy marriage. It gives me the security that I have abilities which people are willing to pay money for.
It also means that I can get higher education. I can study at university in order to improve my market value and in order to improve my knowledge. It gives me a chance to decide what and who I want to be. It gives me the security that when everything is lost, my education will still be there.
It means that I can vote. I can vote for the candidate with the best program, the greatest vision, who shares my opinion or, yes, the candidate I find physically attractive. That’s how it is. It means that my opinion will count even if my justification for these opinions is based on superficial issues like looks. I’m not saying this is a good call, but that’s how it is: You cannot chose whether you like an opinion or not, you’ll have to live with others having them.
It means also that I can own things, buy things, make contracts and be a liable person by law. I do not disappear in the existence of my husband once I say “I do”. I am still allowed to exist as a person of my own. This is why I despise people who say things like “Mr and Mrs John Smith”. There is no Mrs John Smith. There might be Mrs Jane Smith.
Feminism means that my body is mine and nobody else’s. Not my husband’s. Not my child’s. MINE. I can do with it as I please. I can pierce it, draw on it, take it where ever I want. I can sleep with whom I want, at any time, or not. It protects me from being raped by my husband without appropriate punishment. It protects me from being forced to do things I do not want to do.
Feminism in its core gives me individuality at the core. It makes me a person with dreams, rights and a future. Feminism makes me human. It makes me – me, just as I want myself to be.
When the patriarchs express that feminism is evil, it is not the feminism they hate. It’s not the pants and the rights they hate. It is precisely the individuality.
Fundamentalist christianity cannot survive in an environment where there is individuality. Everybody must conform to rules and values for it to work. Everybody must submit, men and women alike. Those who do not submit are those who risk the system. Kids who talk back. Women who work. Men who have feelings. Individuals outside that perfect, Pearl-esque set of rules. Conform or be damned. Conform or suffer. Conform or die. Individuality? Uncheck that box as soon as possible. Die to yourself and move the remaining empty shell by the rules of the great puppet-master. Get on the stage and play your role, and by all means, hope it’s over soon.
I am here, reading, writing, thinking. Not because of anything the patriarchs did but because of something the feminists did. They made me what I am today. Thank you for that.