A friend was telling me about her evening at fencing class – (a rather specific detail which may have blown this nameless friend’s anonymity to smithereens, for any readers who know her, but I don’t think she’ll mind much either way) – and how the class had been divided into teams of two for competitive drills. As it happened, More-or-less-anonymous Friend and her teammate spent a lot of the evening winning. As it also happened, Friend and her teammate were the only girls in the class full of guys. Friend was most enthusiastically proud about this point. My reaction: Gloom.

            This may send some readers into shock, but I’m not much of a feminist. Yes, I know, I’m a girl. More accurately, a woman (so a girl in the informal definition 4 sense, not a definition 1 “female child”), but I tend to shy from that particular label, as I feel that “girl” comes off as less aggressive. That’s my main issue with feminism as I’ve encountered it: The aggression with which females insist that they are equal, if not superior, to males.

            When I was a definition 1 girl, the idea of “girl power” amused me. After all, to an eight-year-old female, the declarations that boys drool and reject knowledge in college in favor of getting more stupider on Jupiter are both hilarious and easily swallowed as gospel truth. (Most young boys kinda bring it on themselves.) But I outgrew that in a way that radical feminists haven’t. Naturally, I’m all for equality; I’m not complaining about my hard-won right to vote. What I strongly dislike is hearing propaganda to the tune of, “Anything men can do, women can do better! Men are Neanderthals and public enemy number one! Women could do just fine without men, thank you, Joe Schmoe, so please go sit quietly in the corner until we want you to provide the missing ingredient for the children which we can bear and you can’t and which we intend to raise in the belief that they are little goddesses or else the male servants who should consider themselves blessed for even being allowed on the same planet as said little goddesses…

            Um, whoa. No thank you.

            Fortunately, most people calling themselves feminists don’t take it to that insane extreme. Even so, there is that underlying defensiveness; that hair-trigger belligerence; that feeling that females are the underdogs with everything to prove, when… are we? Does a four-to-one male-to-female ratio in a given space put the females at any real disadvantage? Okay, in sports, possibly; the men are likely to be bigger, probably stronger, and so the girl may have to put forward a greater effort if she wishes to best the men. But why does she wish to best them? Are the men her competition because they are male, or simply because she wishes to excel? If you desire personal excellence purely for the satisfaction of doing the best you can (motivation I can get behind 100%), then it shouldn’t matter whether your competition is made up of mostly men, or mostly women, or mostly monkeys, for all I care.

            That’s where I think feminism has gone wrong: Making it a matter of boys vs. girls – an attitude we should have left behind in elementary school. So long as women insist on pitting themselves against men, they shouldn’t be surprised if the men say, “Bring it on, sweetheart!” So long as we treat things like “women firsts” as a huge deal, it will be.

            My appeal to the women: Lay down your arms. Lower your banner. Lose the “Girl power!” rallying cry. If you want to advance equality, the focus can’t be on opposing teams, but on individuals. Aim as high as you personally can, but for yourself, not for the sisterhood. Let your victories be your own, not your gender’s. Operate among the men and other women and monkeys as if it’s the most unremarkable thing in the world, and in time, it will be.

            You want a chance to lead the way, girls? This is it.

14 thoughts on ““Girl”

  1. I posted on a feminist’s blog the other day. I know, I know…bad idea. Of course all of her followers (or at least the ones who commented after me) were feminists as well. But I couldn’t help myself. She ended her post with the following questions: Where and when did we lose our equality? Do you have the answer? How could I not answer, when I know the truth? This is how I responded:

    Men and women need each other. They compliment each other. One has what the other lacks. That is the way it was in the beginning. Women respected men for their protection and hard labor, for bringing the food home. Men still fill these roles, for the most part. Men respected women for making the home a haven for him and her, and their children. The woman made the man’s job worth doing, and his life worth living. I think we lost our equality when we stepped outside of what we do best, and began to desire to fill the roles that men do best. Men stopped appreciating women because they were competing with them, and because their home lives became a wreck. Now there was no one to make life worth living anymore. Men can’t do it themselves because they aren’t very good at nurturing. Men resent women for jumping off the home-maker’s wagon because now the job isn’t getting done at all – at least not as well as it once was. Superwomen types try to do it all, but we shouldn’t ask so much of ourselves. It leads to burnout and resentment because they begin to believe that the men aren’t doing enough. I know my opinion won’t be popular, but that’s just how I see things.

    I do regret my remark about men not being good nurturers, but I still believe that mothers are better at mothering.

    Of course, everyone had a great time disagreeing with me, but for the most part they were civil. Sometimes I love stirring up a good conversation, even if I’m the only one on my side.

    • The “anything you can do, I can do better” attitude is a crock. Fact is, no one can do everything. And everyone has things that they are naturally good at, with potential to be *great* at, if they’re willing to put in the work. When the focus moves from being the best we can be to besting everyone around us in whatever given arena, we lose the time, energy, and ability to accomplish what we might otherwise have done.

      Your opening thoughts are right on the money. Men and women were made similiar in some ways, different in others. If each would use their strengths in harmony with the other, we’d have just that: Harmony. But strength can be a weakness when used improperly, and weakness used in place of strength can hardly be expected to yield positive results.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. (:

  2. “And everyone has things that they are naturally good at, with potential to be *great* at, if they’re willing to put in the work.”

    Great insight! I love it! If only I could pass this mentality off onto my son, and my husband while I’m at it…

  3. There are a lot of things guys can do that not only can I not do, but I don’t want to do. Obviously a man who thinks he is better then you is an idiot, but then the same could be said about a woman thinking the same.

  4. Oh, this is great!!!

    Of course, I’m not quite at as much liberty to write such a thing because…well, guess. 😀 I can do without cries of “Chauvinist!!!”

    When women complain about chivalry being dead, and men not opening doors etc. anymore, they should really take it up with the feminists as well. (What’s the point of opening a door for a girl if she can “Do it herself?”)

    • Yeah, I held off on airing my opinion until I felt I could do so without slipping into a rant that would get me mugged by an all-lady mob. (Not that it wouldn’t have been cool to witness an actual tar-and-feathering, but that would’ve been getting a little too close to the action.)

      My sympathy is with the men, on the chivalry issue. I’m sure the goodly nubmer of non-jerks out there are trying their best to be respectful of women, but if all they get is a lot of loud mixed messages, what are the poor fellas supposed to do? I actually ought to let guys open doors for me, more. It goes against my compulsion to be the one politely opening doors for everyone else and/or get where I’m going as quickly as possible, but you gotta let gentlemen be gentlemen, or they won’t.

      Feel free to cite my two cents if you ever want to get into it with the hard-core shemales; let the cries of “Chauvinist!!!” fall on me. (:

      • You know, I have found that almost *any* guy will open a door for me if I slow down and let them beat me to it! I think they enjoy being useful!

      • First I hafta say, I like your word “Shemales.” 😀 Nice coining.

        I have to admit, sometimes I do let doors go on people, but usually it’s in one of those “city” situations, where if you keep holding the door for the next person, you’ll be there for centuries.

        And none of us really want to be stuck holding a door for centuries, do we? Well, maybe some antisocial troglodyte might. *shrugs*

        But now…I ramble.

      • Your rambles have introduced me to a charming new word! Hello, “troglodyte”!
        Can’t honestly remember if I’ve heard “shemales” somewhere before or not. Let’s say “not”. Feels good to be the coin-minter. 😀

    • Oh, the old “to hold the door, or not to hold the door” question. For heaven’s sake, isn’t it the polite thing for any human being to hold the door for another? Mutual chivalry, that’s my standard. :D!

      And if the feminists feel wrongly pandered to, that really sucks for them, doesn’t it? 😛

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