I know this isn’t the most practical space to write this, because lets face it, the readers of this blog are most likely feminists or at least understand the women’s rights movement. But, I really need to explain something that is very important to me. You see, it all started when I was browsing the internet and stumbled upon an article on the dailymail.co.uk website about a new campaign to bring attention to the word “bossy” and how it applies differently to men and women. For example, a female may be called bossy when a male, exhibiting the same behaviors, would be praised for his “leadership skills”. Public figures such as Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Condoleeza Rice, Diane von Fustenberg and Sheryl Sandberg are part of the campaign.
I really don’t know why I do this to myself, but I glanced over the comments section and the last comment, written by a commenter in Minneapolis, caught my eye,
Why do we continue to think its right to tell girls you aren’t you unless you are a leader? Girls need to be told to be what God created them to be…Woman have a different makeup then men and when we attempt to make women men and men women is where we go wrong. We should be embracing our genetic differences instead of trying to “level the playing field” for one sex over another. My way of showing my girls leadership wasn’t to take over a fortune 500 company but to be the best Mom I could be and showing them hard work and determination would take them far in no matter what career or non career they choose. It seems to me that the worst thing the feminist movement did was to vilify the wonderful nurturing role of being a Mother as something less then taking over the world. The legacy of a Mother is her children and what they do in the world.
I think this person is missing the whole point of the article and feminism itself. Women who aren’t natural leaders aren’t wrong. In fact, I’m not a good leader at all but I’m still a feminist. Instead, what this new campaign focuses on (just like other organizations like the Girl Scouts) is developing the potential for girls and women to become leaders and encouraging them to take an active part in their lives and surroundings. Secondly, I would argue that men and women have no different “makeup” from each other. Different body parts and hormones, yes. But a man isn’t born knowing how to be a man, he is taught what masculinity is. The same goes for females. I firmly believe that men and women behave differently not because of genetics, but because of the behaviors we see and imitate until they become “natural” (See Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identitfor more information on that!)
The last point of this comment that I would like to argue against is the common notion that feminists are against motherhood and children. I have heard this myth plenty of times, even from people I personally know. WE ARE NOT AGAINST MOTHERHOOD OR CHILDREN. WE JUST ENCOURAGE EVERY WOMAN TO MAKE THIS PERSONAL CHOICE FOR HERSELF. What feminists do is say “hey, you know you don’t HAVE to be a mother and a housewife. You can now have a career or travel a lot or do whatever your heart desires.” Motherhood can be an extremely important part of a woman’s identity (Hello, Audre Lorde) but it doesn’t have to be either. There are billions of other fulfilling choices and paths that women everywhere can and do make because of the improvements feminism has made of the way we view and treat women today.
Hope that clears some things up!