Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why Gloria Steinem still matters

Hope is a very unruly emotion. Gloria Steinem 
I grew up in a generation that shuddered often at the word "feminist".  Most of my friends and I, and even other girls I met, rarely ever wanted to be associated with that word or movement.  It seemed so outdated, so unkempt, so limiting...yes I said limiting.  We were girls who wanted to do it all, have a career, stay at home, be a great hostess, get married, live with a guy, go out by ourselves, drive, have doors opened for us, be whistled at, not degraded, and we were so not burning our bras.  I particularly love my bras to be expensive (let's face it the secret Ms Victoria is that for us ladies with bigger girls your bras..umm yeah well they are no miracle) and sexy so there is no way I am setting fire to them ...my hope is they start a fire of different kind.  


Yes we are girls who came of age when, though still not 100% equal in everything, the possibilities to do anything already existed.  The idea of feminism with it's marches for the right to vote, the right for equal pay, the right to do what you want with your body, well those were a given to us.  We saw these women as angry, bit disoriented, having very little to do with our lives.  It has taken me many years and maturity to realize what a bunch of feminists we really are.   We have the thing Ms Steinem (love the Ms by the way) and her peers, and her predecessors, had to claw, march, and yes burn their bras for.  We have CHOICES!!!!! The woman who gives up her profession to be at stay at home mom (whether financially able to have help or financially unable to and work all day now in her home), the woman who chooses to go to work and still be a great partner/mother/wife/lover, the woman who chooses not to have children or when to have them, the woman who chooses her partner, the woman who chooses.....well that is what feminism wanted- just the ability to make those choices for ourselves and not have them made for us by our parents, by religion, by society.  


It saddens me that we as women are so incredibly judgemental (admitting that I am working on it for myself) of one another, that certain religions are so not enlightened that they fear that a woman has to be covered up- guess part of that means we are so powerful and men so weak but then again but who but a weak minded person would subject themselves to believing that treating the bearer of life as less than equal would be something any higher power would have decreed, that in general religions have not held women as equals and mostly it saddens me that I spent part of my youth dismissing Gloria as someone who had nothing in common with me. I shudder every time someone says to me "you are lucky you have boys" if we are discussing sexual behavior...I have an extra responsibility as the mother of boys to remind them that what they do with a girl has the same consequences for them, that they should have sex because they and the other person in the room want to and not because someone is checking off boxes outside a closet or worse counting lipstick rings, that they should be wise with condoms for themselves as well as their partner, and most of all because girls should be able to like having sex as much as they do and they should be thankful for that and not denigrate her on a bathroom or Facebook wall.  Today I am proud to be a sexy bra, high heel, make up wearing working woman, mother, friend with males and females who loves to cook ...I do not have it all together most of the time but at least I have the choice to have it my way. 

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
Gloria Steinem 

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