Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Feminator

posted by Jazz at 1/15/2005 01:15:00 PM


(A warning for those who might wind up being horribly disappointed - this entry has nothing to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger.)

While going through the old virtual mailbag this morning, an interesting letter jumped out at me. A portion is included here.

"In two of your recent posts I was pleased to see you using the phrase 'anti-choice' which I don't see nearly often enough. I was not aware that your a feminist. For that matter, I really didn't know anyone who had been a Republican for so long could even BE a feminist at all..."

I suppose I'm flattered that anyone would think to assign that particular tag to me, and I'm certainly sensitive to a number of issues which are of interest to women. The problem is that I've never been sure that anyone who's not a card carrying member of the womb holders' club can truly be a "feminist" per se. It is, as I see it, somewhat akin to the white people who, when I was very young, traveled great distances and faced serious (and on some occasions, lethal) dangers to fight for the rights of oppressed blacks in the South. Important, noble work to be sure, and we should admire them - however it will never, in my opinion, quite duplicate the experience of being black and facing racism on a day to day basis.

You can show up at the next big rally wearing your Feminist Peace Network tee shirt, your pink cape billowing magnificently in the breeze and a copy of Cosmo tucked under your arm, (i.e. "The Feminator") but again... it's not quite the same. If you weren't the one experiencing lower wages for the same work, sexual harassment in all environments and the ever present glass ceiling, I think the most you can hope for is to be an empathist with the feminists.

Men also, in my experience, tend to expect immediate gratification, even when it comes to justice. Sometimes social reform comes along at a glacial pace, and to be successful you have to be able to bide your time and pick your battles. Growing up, two of my relatives, both older than me, were lesbians - the first I ever knew. And I didn't know about them until I was an adult. Both were a huge influence on me growing up, but they were firmly in the closet when I was a teenager, and with good reason. Being gay wasn't exactly considered chic where I grew up. In fact, even if the drunken assemblage of bigots and homophobes in my home town had been aware of the word chic, they'd doubtless have felt that homosexuality was pretty much the antithesis of it.

Change takes time. This is something women and minorities have had to learn while traveling down a very long road. And I believe this is why men will mostly need to satisfy themselves with the role of empathists in the feminist movement.