Friday, March 5, 2010

PMS & Facebook Don't Mix

I am in the thralls of a ruthless bout with PMS


today, some neanderthal called me a Nazi




because I consider myself

a feminist.
Instead of giving into my PMS urges and unleashing written wrath on him,

I ran 6 miles

and now I'm too tired to explain.

My dear friend Heather, said it best...

"It all started with reading A Room of One's Own when I was in high school. That was followed by a lot more feminist readings and a new vision of the world was born. I felt very comfortable in my new feminist skin despite the teasing of some. I remember at my sister's wedding my new brother-in-law introduced me to his friend as his"feminist" sister-in-law. Was that supposed to be an insult? As I traipsed off to BYU I started to understand the hint. Now as I was firmly implanted in Mormondom I started to feel like there was something wrong with identifying myself as a feminist. Slowly I abandoned the label, at least outwardly.

Fast forward a few years and I had an interesting experience in grad school where I was the only person in my Early Modern Europe reading class with Professor Craig Harline. One day we were talking about feminism and I expressed my hesitancy in referring to myself as a feminist. I don't remember his exact words but the gist of it was: Why? Why should you be ashamed of that? My conversation with him really gave me the confidence to reclaim the label for myself. Fast forward a few more years: Now I am a mom to two awesome girls. I am mostly home with them, so sometimes I don't really think of my feminism that much. But I recently I had a couple of experiences that have reawakened my feminist ideals. Several months back I read a book, The Widows War (I don't really recommend it. It was much racier than I would have thought from reading the synopsis.) Anyhow the story takes place in the 1600s in New England. The main character's husband dies and her house and possessions transfer to her nearest male relative, her son-in-law, since women couldn't own property. She no longer has a say in where she lives, how she lives, etc... I was getting so upset by the book and feeling very grateful for the time in which I live and the rights which I now enjoy.

Shortly after that my daughters were playing "princess" and I overheard this conversation: "The king wants to marry me because I am the prettiest" "No, he wants to marry me because I have the prettiest dress." This made me so sad. I felt like I had done my girls a disservice by allowing the "princess" hysteria to enter my home. I was listening to the song "Virginia Woolf" by the Indigo Girls and I just started hugging my oldest daughter and crying. (I'm kind of an emotional person). I just started thinking about Virginia Woolf and her life and how she impacted me. I started thinking about my girls and the life I want for them. I don't want their view of themselves to be shaped by sexist ideas and I don't ever ever want them to feel like they are of less value because they are female.

That day marked some changes in our lives. We have downplayed the "princess" stuff and sought for some different female role models. It awakened me to some of the attitudes that I and my girls face occasionally that I want to counteract. Last Sunday a man in our ward asked my girls to "give him five." My girls hit his hand as hard as they could and he said, "Wow, you're pretty strong for girls." I said, "They are pretty strong for anyone." I also wanted to add that I knew my girls could beat up his sons pretty easily but I stopped myself. My husband and I laughed about it later and I felt content to know my feminist self was intact and ready for the days to come.

I understand some people's problems with the term and the movement related to it. People associate the term feminism with what I term the "excesses" of the movement: men bashing, abortion, the belittling of motherhood, etc... Obviously the feminist movement has evolved over the years and within the movement you will find infinite opinions and viewpoints. But just because there are somethings about the feminist movement that we don't agree with I don't think we should do away with the term altogether or more importantly the fundamental understandings that it represents.For me the term feminism denotes this basic definition: "feminism advocates the equal treatment of women and men and states that discrimination in particular against women does exist and should be eliminated" ( B Kent Harrison and Mary Stovall Richards, Feminism in the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, BYU Studies 36 n0 2 1996 -97, pg. 181-199) (This is an awesome article, by the way. )I mean who wouldn't agree with that? According to this definition shouldn't we all be feminists.

It drives me crazy when I hear women today say: "I don't like feminists" or "I'm against feminism." I want to say: "Do you like being able to vote, own property, get an education, testify in court, have the option to work and hopefully be paid according to your abilities (we're still working on that one.)? Do you like it that your husband changes diapers and helps with the housework? Because guess what ? You have feminism to thank for that."

Sure there are a lot of people who refer to themselves as feminists who I don't agree with but I am so grateful for the men and women who have fought for women's rights. We are all the beneficiaries. Despite it's failings the term feminist still best describes for me my view of women and their place in the world."
-Heather Arnitas


Davis Family Ü said...

GO Sara.. good luck with all of those kids tonight.. pms and all.. if you need anything, call me, I'll come running!!!

Keri said...

Some people are just idiots. Does he not realize it is 2010? You are one STRONG woman in every way possible, and you should be nothing but proud of yourself! ...and I would NEVER think of you as a Nazi. You are one of the sweetest people I know.

heathermommy said...

I feel so embarrased that one of my "friends" called you a nazi. I am gonna x him from facebook. I can't believe how many responses I got from that post. It was all because of reading nie nie's sister's blog about her not being a feminist. It made me cranky so I said something about it on facebook. crazy!!