I came across a bit of celebrity news recently (I admit, they interest me slightly more than natural disasters and politics) and was interested in the episode of Shailene Woodley’s response when asked if she was a feminist. She said no, because she loves men, and thinks the idea of “raising women to power, take the men away from the power” is never going to work out because you need balance.
A long time ago I wrote about feminism in films. I said I was neither a feminist nor an anti-feminist, and that I didn’t care about gender equality in movies. I still don’t, but I’ve come to appreciate that the term is more than just campaigning for more women to appear in entertainment in leading roles. That is just 1 very minor issue. The major issue is how women are represented in society, real life. I have had increasing concerns about women and voiced it a few times recently — about women being left to supporting roles. It’s not that anyone does it deliberately, but men are just more often trusted with leading positions, and trusted to think strategically and make better decisions. And it’s true; men are more strategic and logical, and they give such objective advice in difficult situations. And hey, if I seriously believe that men are better than women in these areas (which some real feminists disagree with) then how can I still be a feminist?
Yes, it may be clear what men are better than women at, and women are better than men at (relating to others, feeling emotionally attached), but the prejudice comes in what society values more. Female bosses, it has been said, have a harder time than male bosses because they’re often asked to deal with interpersonal issues between colleagues, because women are perceived to be nurturing and friendly and can smooth ruffled feathers. You must know that no matter how friendly a person is, some interpersonal issues just cannot be resolved (in fact they are the worst nightmare of forums). The female bosses thus fail and are perceived to be incapable. Our societies are facing the increasing trend of valuing competitiveness, ambition, practicality and assertiveness, all comfortably male traits. Take a look at an assertive, competitive woman and tell me what you think.
But aren’t these values important for economic growth? What other things can we value for the sake of progress? And that’s where you fall into the societal trap, because economic growth and progress are themselves masculine objectives. Many developed countries have a lot of economic growth and progress, but are they happy? Why is the income inequality so high? Why are people said to be getting less and less scrupulous, more and more selfish? It may be quite ingrained in us, but everything in this society is about winning, getting ahead. And that is not the only way one can run a country, or the world.
Let’s face it, every society needs a stronger half and a weaker half, be it in terms of personality, intellect or anything else. Shailene Woodley isn’t wrong when she said you need balance, and there is a very nice balance going on here. Women are happy with being second place if their men coddle them and cherish them and are nice to them — to us, why bother fighting to have responsibilities and be respected when we can just curl up in the lap of luxury of a man who doesn’t need us to do anything? (and you say women can’t do strategic thinking) And men are more than happy to spoil their women to bits in order to have that one person who will always be at a lower level than them and think they’re great. I have no interest in disrupting this balanced working relationship, and so perhaps I’m not a feminist? Because I don’t see the need to actively fight for anything.
On the other hand, what is worrying is that stereotypes really do perpetuate actions. Some women are really good at what they do — or can be on par with men at the very least — but the stresses that they feel when they try to be good at something can cause them to doubt themselves. When a man is involved in a big project, the wife is expected to support him in every way. When the wife is the one in a big project, most men start getting grumpy that they have to do their own household chores, and start reminding their wives that the family needs them. Women, being way more responsible than men (is what I think, at any rate), are emotionally tied to the family and face the pressure of not letting their home life crumble while they pursue their interests outside. This is the real sociological idea of “second shift”, because family is continually, annoyingly, on the back of your mind.
Now is probably the time when I relate my experience of visiting a card shop with my friend to play Magic: The Gathering. My friend has a few friends in that same card shop, and when he saw my friend bringing us here, his eyes widened and he was like “you brought girls?!” really loudly. It infuriated me a fair bit, but the guys did let us join the Draft. However, my friend (another girl) is a slow Magic player, and took a long time choosing cards from the packs, and basically everyone else was passing everything at lightning speed that there was a big backlog in front of her, which embarrassed us to no end. The worst/best part was during the fight. I faced off against the “you brought girls?!” guy (or maybe it was another one; I can’t tell male chauvinists apart) who was nice to me but made me quite amused during the battle. He kept making goat tokens due to an ability he had, and basically kept prodding at the goat tokens and saying “ooh, how cuuute”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, but I took the benefit of the doubt and assumed he wasn’t mocking me, but simply thought that was really how one talks to women. But whenever I play Magic in a room full of guys like him, I do feel the stress of wanting to do well. I don’t want to play too badly and make them go “Tchah, girls can’t play indeed”, and this added stress — along with the feeling that the guys are still staring at me wondering how a girl can possibly play this — can cause me to make hasty plays and sabotage myself. So yes, I may not be an activist sort of feminist, but I’m definitely not saying that men and women are equal in any way.
As Shailene Woodley and many female celebrities say, I love men. Of course I do. But there is a difference between saying you love men and saying you pamper men. One can love men in the demoness way of having lots of men as pets (oh no, I’m letting my imagination run wild) or one can respect that men have the rationality and maturity to respect women as they are, regardless of any gender conceptions anyone may have. What I’m impatient about is that women themselves tend to think they are inferior to men, and seem to devote all their time to pleasing men and getting them to “notice” or be nice to them. I mean if they themselves think so, and think the feminists are the ones with the wrong idea, then the stereotype is never going to break, is it?
Oh dear, this has been such a long ranty entry. It did take a lot more time than I expected, but now that I’ve said my fill, guess I’ll go back to my everyday life as a lazy feminist again.