The Best Lecture Yet


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Today’s sociology lecture provoked more lively discussion than any subject thus far – gender.  Our professor asked the class to raise our hands if we considered ourselves feminists.  Two hands out of about twenty went up.  The rest of the class decisively left their hands in their laps; they were NOT feminists.

“How many of you think women should be allowed to vote?”

“How many of you think women and men should receive equal pay for equal work?”

“How many of you think a woman should have the right to divorce her abusive husband?”
As the profesor asked these questions, every hand went up on the first two, and most of them on the third . . . this is Oklahoma . . .   With an air of triumph, he loudly declared, “Guess what?  YOU’RE a feminist!”

One female student explained her position this way (I’m paraphrasing):  “I didn’t raise my hand, because although I agree with those things, I didn’t want to be associated with those ‘femi-Nazis’.”  The professor went on to explain the difference between what he called “liberal feminists” and “radical feminists”.  I prefer the terms I read a few years ago in Christina Hoff Sommers’ book, Who Stole Feminism? – “equity feminists” and “gender feminists”.

Thanks to folks like Rush Limbaugh, the very small minority voice of radical gender feminism is what everybody thinks of when they hear the word ‘feminist’.  You know – ugly, man-hating lesbians, to paint a characature.  But if you applaud Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and all the unsung heroes of women’s suffrage, you are a feminist, whether you know it or not.  And if you believe in equal pay for equal work, you are a feminist.  If you believe that discrimination based on gender is wrong, you are a believer in feminist philosophy.  In a society that has been largely patriarchal for decades, any movement away from the status quo and toward equality of the sexes is feminist. 

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Since we don’t want to jump of the scary cliff of radical feminism, what does feminism look like today?  I don’t want to launch into a treatise, so I’ll just stick with my thoughts on some practical applications from my own life.  Feminism is a husband who is proud of his wife’s professional accomplishments and thinks it’s wrong that, despite their identical degrees and experience levels, her male co-worker makes more money than she does.  Feminism is a mother who teaches her daughters that life is full of opportunities, and that being a wife and mother is just one of them.  Feminism is a father teaching his sons to respect women rather than objectify them.  Feminism is a wife who offers support and comfort to her husband, just as she needs him to do for her.  Feminism is a husband and wife partnering together to build a life in which both feel supported, respected, and important.  What’s so scary about that?

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One response »

  1. Guys in Oklahellma would never raise their hands to that question because " we ain't no sissys". And the girls there are afraid if the say they are feminists, they will suddenly become fat, lose their bras and have a compulsion to cut their hair in a flat-top.

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