Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am a Feminist

I am a feminist, and I am a man. I do not see this as a contradiction. I am a man because that is who I am; I did not choose to be a man. I am a feminist because I chose to be a feminist, because I believe in the apparently radical idea that women are people. People, just people, exactly as men are people.

Some people tell me this is a contradiction. They say that a man cannot be a feminist, because feminism is about women, and I am not a woman. Or they say that it is silly to be a feminist, because I am not a woman, and giving women equality will not give me anything. I find this to be ridiculous: should I not believe in the equality of black people because I am not black, or not fight for gay people to marry simply because I am not gay?

I believe that equality is necessary on its own merits, that no person should be denied an equal chance because of something as trivial as because they happen to be female. I do not need to justify its benefit to me, because having a fair society is worth anything I can do. But even the silly arguments make me think. What does feminism bring to me? Can it be justified on a personal level, in addition to a global level? It maybe is not important that it can – but it can absolutely be justified on any level. I am a feminist because I think it is good, but I am also a feminist because it is good for me.

I am a feminist, because when I walk into my job, I will have the very best possible coworkers. They will have been chosen at every level for their ability and creativity, their rationality and brilliance. There will be women there, because maybe they will not have been told at five and ten and fifteen and eighteen and twenty-two that women don’t become engineers, that maybe they should become a nurse of a teacher instead, because that’s what women do. There will be women sitting in the fancy chairs, because we will have purged from our collective memory banks the idea that only men can make decisions.

I am a feminist, because I will have sex with a woman, and I will know that we are having sex because we want to have sex with each other. It will be good sex, because she will have been taught that her body is good and she can enjoy it, and that sex is good and she can enjoy it too. I will not worry that she would rather be having sex with a woman, or with no one, or with someone else entirely – because she will not feel a pressure to ignore her feelings and have sex with a man – and I will know that we are having sex because she happens to want sex. She will not feel shamed by society for having sex, even if she has sex with other people too, or if she gets birth control so that she does not have to have a baby.

I am a feminist, because I will watch movies, and I will watch television, and I will watch strong female characters. Except I will not even think of this, because strong female characters will be so normal I will not notice them, because they will not be an anomaly any more. I will watch these women have jobs and hobbies and talk to each other about things besides men, because that is how women act in real life. 

I am a feminist, because I will hold doors for people. I will not worry about being expected to open doors for women simply because they are women, and I will not worry about insulting a woman’s strength by opening a door for her. I will open doors for people because it is basic human kindness, and I will be able to open doors for all people.

A note: this was originally written about 2:30 in the morning a few nights back. It's an amalgam of several nights of thought. It's written in a bit of an idiosyncratic style, I realize, and I refuse to have it any other way.

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