Last week I watched the PBS Makers: Women Who Make America. It took me all week because I watched it while walking the treadmill, but it set the wheels and cogs of my brain to turning. My initial reaction to this documentary was shame. Like maybe I’ve let these women down by not maintaining the fire and activism. It made me question my responsibilities. It made me wish to be as calm and eloquent as Gloria Steinem.
I’ve never had to struggle as a woman. I’ve never been denied the right to vote or discriminated in the workplace. And if there was a certain pressure to be the typical Susie Homemaker and 1950s wife, it was most certainly not put there by my husband and they were quiet enough to be easily ignored. Yes, I have chosen a career that tends to be lopsided in male to female ratios, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work for and with many inspiring and brilliant women. That’s not to say that inequality no longer exists. With the exception of one woman who only works twice a week, I am the only woman in my department. This isn’t a problem for me. The guys I work with are great and only treat me like a girl when there’s something heavy to be lifted. And I don’t for a minute believe that I’m the only girl just because they are less likely to hire women. Thanks to the women before me, I lead a pretty cushy life.
But I’m not blind to the fact that inequality still persists. It infuriates me that the cost of my car insurance went up when I had to list myself as a single female. The discusion of reproductive rights makes me roll my eyes in annoyance. I can’t believe we are still debating this and that there are still men out there who think women can just “shut it down”. It upsets me that we can so easily brush aside violence against women by turning it into a joke. And I feel the pressure to be all things womanly and still be one of the guys. I think that this is where many, women and men, miss the point of equal rights. Today’s woman doesn’t necessarily want it all. We shouldn’t even be expected to have it all. It’s exhausting. The point of the equal rights movement for woman was and is about having a choice.
I think the goal for the new face of feminism should be about changing the language, changing the words we use to describe each other and the labels we choose to label ourselves and others. It’s also about accepting others’ choices without judgement. I suppose this idea makes me less of a feminist and more of a humanist. I just want it to be acceptable and OK to be where I am and I want this for everyone regardless of sex, race or sexual orientation.