I’ve been watching this meme float across the blogosphere, but I wasn’t going to tackle it here because, y’know, I didn’t think y’all really cared. But now I’ve been tagged directly, and I am not about to risk the wrath of Lady Linoleum by not answering.
FIVE THINGS FEMINISM HAS DONE FOR ME
1. Feminism has taught me that sexual harassment and violence are not acceptable. It was not my fault that my ex-boss called me a “frigid bitch” when I wouldn’t let him stroke my hair or help me into a dress for a party; it was not my fault that a man grabbed my breast as I walked down the street; it was not my fault that I was raped. There was a time when each of these incidents would have been considered normal, and I would have been shamed and denigrated for fussing about them.
2. Feminism has given me reproductive choice. Our eighty-seven-year-old neighbor has a sticker up in her window that says “Keep Abortion Legal.” When I congratulated her on it, she told me firmly, “I had one of those back-alley abortions. I don’t want another woman to go through that. Ever.” I am grateful to feminism for the right to control whether, when, and how I have children. Of course, we still have a long way to go to ensure access for all women.
3. Feminism has given my words power. Until fairly recently, women’s opinions were believed to stem from emotion rather than reason, and discounted on that basis. While women’s voices are still not given equal airtime, we’ve definitely made progress.
4. Feminism has given me the right to earn and control my own money. One hundred years ago, I would either not have worked at all or worked my ass off and seen none of the proceeds, depending on my class position. Today I hold a job for somewhat respectable pay, and, thanks to California’s marital property laws, half of our total household earnings belongs to me. Which is good, because if Husband controlled all the funds, we’d have a lot more DVDs and a lot less yarn.
5. Feminism has given me a great role model. My mother has a Ph.D. and a fairly impressive faculty position, in which she teaches anthropology and women’s studies. She organized for tenants’ rights in New York City. She chose when she wanted to have a child. She never told me that anything was impossible because I was a girl. She has published books, and traveled all over the world. I love her because she’s my mom, but I respect her for all of the above reasons.
Mind you, all of the above items are very culturally specific – Feminism has not done as much everywhere as it has in the West, and it hasn’t done as much for women of color as it has for white women. That is its failure, but also its work for the future.
Everybody – male, female, and otherwise gendered – I’d love to read your version of this meme in the comments below.