I am a born feminist. How do I know this? Well, my earliest memories are conversations with my Mother asking why my older brother was allowed to do things I was forbidden to do. Simple things. Climb trees, roam the neighborhood. Simple things. Childhood things. Her response? "He's a boy." My response? "So?" Her response: "That's just the way it is." My response? "That makes no sense." "That is unfair." Her response? "Life is unfair". Imagine for a second that I was an African-American and substitute boy for white. Yep. Just as there is institutionalized racism, there is institutionalized sexism. Really early on I knew in my gut that life was nonsensically unfair for those of us born with vaginas and those of us born with the "wrong" skin color. Still I was as a child, and remain to this day, a willful mouthy woman who never accepted the premise of "that's just the way it is," as anything other than the grand cop out that it is.
A little older I learned the term "penis envy". I was insulted by the term. I have never wanted to be the proud owner of a penis. Nope. I simply wanted what I felt I was born entitled to...the same privileges that penis owners possess. So, in lieu of penis envy, I say I have "privilege" envy.
What privilege(s) do I speak of? The privilege to make any choice I damn well choose, about my body, my finances, to have my voice heard and taken seriously, and to move about in this world freely without fear of being maimed, kidnapped, raped or killed. To live my life defined in my OWN terms and not in the context of male approval or disapproval. I think that's pretty standard human stuff. Ya know, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness kind of stuff. Yet, throughout my entire life, I've been told time and time again - usually by men - that I expect too much. I've also been told, by men solely, something along the lines of "can't you just fake it?" Men need to feel they are the final voice. Men need to feel role of protector and provider. Why can't you do that? Well, I can't. Oh and my all time favorite, from a man and a variation on this theme from my Mom, "Dixiedemocrat you are cursed. God gave you a great brain AND great looks." "Good luck, being happy in this life." "Men need to feel smarter than you." Smile, play dumb, and be happy. Well, you may as well have asked me to grow gills and live under water. I simply want the freedom to be who I am AND be appreciated by a man who is not the least bit threatened by my opinionated mouth, good looks, and great brain.
Feminists like Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinhem and Bella Abzug argued that feminism is not JUST about women. That ALL of society benefits from the unfettered contributions of women and that evolved men "get this." Funny, the only evolved male names I recall being mentioned at the time were Alan Alda and Phil Donohue. SO in this age of "Real Housewives" glorifying the bitchy, shallow, catty lives of "trophy" Stepford Wives, I ask of this community, PLEASE tell me what does a "male feminist" look like. I sure would like one in my life and Phil and Alan are already spoken for. What qualities does a male feminist possess?