Are the changing tides of generational norms shifting the way we view feminism? Read on to find out what it really means to be the opposite of feminist.
I was talking with my mother-in-law the other day and we were discussing the notion that the U.S. government is considering allowing women into the draft. Although this is theoretical because there currently is no draft, the idea that my girls could be drafted into combat frightens me and makes me slightly upset.
My mother-in law is from a different generation. Coming of age in the 60s, she remembers a time when women were second-class citizens. Not having many options besides being a secretary, nurse, teacher, or mother, the marketplace was not open to women. There were those who broke the mold, sure, but she tells me stories about professors in college who told her that she wasn’t smart enough to be a vet, or how she was steered into more “feminine” studies like literature and philosophy.
Coming from a different perspective, and probably coming across like a spoiled brat, I retorted with very little thanks to her generation. I, for one, am okay with doors being opened for me, chairs being pulled out, and men paying for dinner. I am also okay with the idea that men should go to war and women should stay here and take care of children and family. She was not very happy with my answer.
It isn’t as if no one has ever devalued me for being a woman. I wanted to be a lifeguard in high school at the local lake, but they only hired boys. I was very obstinate about it and pursued it with vigor until they finally explained to me that, at the end of every day, the lifeguards would join hands together and walk through the water to ensure that no one was “lying at the bottom.” When it was finally explained to me that they needed boys who could swim hard and could save the lives of those they watched over in turbulent waters and heavily trafficked swim areas, I got it.
Do I believe men and women are equal?
Yes, but that does not mean we are the same. I believe that the things for which we are designed are what has kept our species alive. We are genetically programmed and made to do certain things, none more important than the other. If the true notion of feminism was to only ensure that women were valued and that they could be anything they wanted to be, then many are missing the mark.
Growing up in the 80s, girls were told that they could be anything they wanted to be. That was unless what you wanted to be was a mom. I had many friends who had their sights on Harvard, Stanford, and becoming a Berkley. I hid my desire to stay at home and raise children for fear of being looked down upon. When I entered college and received an academic scholarship, I didn’t dare say I was only going because I was told that that was what was expected of me, not because it was what I wanted.
Feminism has had the opposite effect on our generation. If feminists want women to have choices, they have to respect that the choice that some of us have made is to be mothers, stay home, put on an apron, and cook dinner. Why should the role as a mother be so looked down on? So many studies have been conducted since the 60s to tell everyone that working mothers are just as effective as full-time mothers. Why? Why does anyone need to prove that a woman can work outside of the home and that she is better than someone who stays at home full-time? Why can’t they simply be equal?
The opposite of feminist: What is that?
Technically, since “feminist” is a term that is used to describe someone who advocates for and supports the notion that men and women are equal, the opposite of feminist would be someone who believes that women are second to men. If you wanted to describe it literally, it would mean that you think women do not deserve equal rights as men. That is only if you are using the literal meaning of “feminist,” though.
There is much disagreement about what the opposite of a feminist is. There are some who believe that it is the same as a misogynist or being chauvinist. In fact, not many would describe it as anything but a negative term. I believe that the opposite of feminism is something more. It is a societal answer to feminism. It isn’t that I don’t believe that I’m equal, but I do believe that we are not the same. We deserve the same rights, but we don’t deserve special rights. What do I mean by that? I think that since the 60s, women have been the target of a campaign to take the essence out of who and what we are, and the opposite of feminism is those of us who believe that being a woman is all right.
I am not a believer that feminism is based on making exceptions for women. By lowering the minimum standards for them to be in occupations such as the army, emergency services, or even the police force, you are not only putting the public in danger, but you are also endangering those that you are allowing to hold positions they are unequipped for. Do feminists want equal opportunity, or do they want things to be lowered so that we can be equal? If my children are caught in a fire, I want to know that whoever is in charge of saving them can do so. Does that make me an anti-feminist? No, that makes me a realist and someone who understands that equal does not mean the same.
A growing trend in society is that the minority shapes the majority. Women who were not happy with their experience in life had the right to change their circumstances. That does not mean, however, that they are allowed to speak for all women. Feminism is a belief that women have the same rights as everyone else, but feminists have a fundamental belief that women should get the same rights as those who aren’t the same.
In our effort to make everyone equal, what we are trying to do is take out the things that make us special and unique. I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to take the garbage out or run the weed whacker. Why is there someone who is defining what my role in society is without letting me choose? This does not mean that I don’t believe myself capable of breaking the glass ceiling, or even becoming President. But I don’t think that we should be deeming certain occupations “not worthy,” like motherhood or being a homemaker. If I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, it’s not because I don’t think I’m capable or haven’t had the opportunities; it’s because I have chosen not to.
I feel respected by those around me. Are there men who talk down to me? Surely. I live in the south, so calling a woman a “sweetheart” is not out of the norm. That is not a gender thing as much as a personality thing. Most men that I know respect women, know their worth, and wouldn’t consider telling a woman that she couldn’t do something if she could. She can be a corporate head or head of the household if that is what she so chooses.
Ask a group of women what they think feminism is and you may start a great debate. Women are in the midst of negotiating who and what they are, trying to debunk what everyone else wants them to be, and being okay with what their essence tells them.
The opposite of feminist is nothing more than a differing idea about what the rights of women look like in the workplace, the homestead and in your heart of hearts.