I am a humanist, and by default, that makes me a feminist.
I used to feel weird with that term…it seemed akin to saying, “I know the struggle, sisters!” when I really don’t.
But in ways…while I can’t say I know the struggle completely, I can at least sympathize.
Single Mom; Big Sister
My parents divorced when I was five years old. My father became a summer thing — someone I saw during summer break; someone who had little bearing on the man I became. The women in my life shaped the man I’d later become. I’m proud of the man I became, and I owe much of that to my mother and my sister.
My father resented that in ways. During summers, he tried turning me into the angry bigot he became, and when I would not abide, he blamed it on my mother — even though it was my own innate morals that prevented me from being swayed.
In that move — blaming my mother for me not becoming the son he wanted — it became clear to me that there were men in the world who would brand certain women Jezebels. If only my father could have seen the angry drunk I saw.
(For all my father’s faults, he was a very loving man with us — even when drunk…which was kind of all the time. It is not my intent to slam on those long gone who cannot defend themselves, but I also refuse to elevate the dead to some higher stature simply because they are gone. My dad and I had our share of arguments, and they all ended with him feeling shamed and me feeling bad that I scolded a man I believed I should have held in much higher regard.)
Life Was Not Perfect
My mom was not always there for us. Some would hold a grudge, but as I grew older and my mom became my friend, I got it. My mom was handed the shit end of the stick. My father paid $120 a month in child support for my sister and me and, if he didn’t feel like taking us for the weekend, my mom was left with the fallout. My mom was also flawed — most of us are when we are younger, so this is not a case of “Mom was better than Dad.” By their own admissions, they both — at times — professed that they should not have had children together. (This never bothered me, but it bothered my sister.)
My mom was a keypunch operator. By that, I mean she punched keys on cards that were inserted into rudimentary computers to run statistics for an insurance company. She busted her ass while my father was sometimes in between jobs and sometimes couldn’t pay the $120 a month he owed for my sister and me. My mom, to my knowledge, never gave him shit for that.
My father, as much as he loved me, was a bigot and a misogynist. My mother was the bitch who left him; my step mother was a cunt who deserved to die when she left him. Everything was everybody’s fault but his own.
This was my male role model.
Even sadder, I know more than a handful of men who make my father seem like Jane Fonda.
I never understood branding a gender as harpies when I could look at the men throwing out that name and see all their faults. Even today, I know men who look at the rare exception of a woman screwing over a guy and saying that’s the way “all bitches be,” and getting mad at those of us who say, “Are you calling my wife and all the other women in my life ‘bitches?’”
When Friends Breed
When I was 20, a friend announced he got his girlfriend pregnant. It was a boy…and almost 25 years later, they are still together — with another boy and a girl…smart young men and a young women about to have their shot at ruling the world.
A very good friend has two daughters; my best friend has a daughter and wonders what the future has in store for her. I like to think that they will have the shot I have — maybe even more.
How can a man look at the women and girls in his life he cares for and not call himself a feminist?!
I saw a quote by John Marcotte today:
I don’t get it: any man who has lived long enough has, at some point, met a woman who’s important to him. For me, early on, it was my mother and my sister. I’m not saying they are/were perfect (my sister died when I was 33 and she was 38), but they were vital to who I am. My wife and I have been together for more than 22 years — how could I not want the best for her?! I look at female friends and the daughters of friends — and to even think they are somehow less than male friends would make me a loser if I felt that way.
I do not feel the need to protect these women any more than I feel the need to protect any friend, but I see these women taking more shit than the men and guys I know.
And that’s why I don’t mind saying I am a feminist. It still feels a bit weird, I’ll admit. It’s a word that I feel I can’t lay claim to because…well, I pee standing up — and while I do not have the privilege of some white males, I’d be lying if I said I’ve lived a life without some privilege.
The Cockroach Effect
There are people in the world who seem very loud: tea party ranters, flat-earth embracers, and others of that ilk. But it’s a death rattle — the prattling of those who feel their easy ride to a snug and smug life is being denied.
They are being buried, lost in the wake of even young conservatives who see that their gay friends marrying is not the end of the world. They are loud because they’re living on borrowed time and being buried by progress.
Much like that, men who hate women fume. They say women who are raped are “lying bitches,” and they turn their 8th-grade views of women into a false realities and then scream that they are being oppressed more than any other group on the planet.
As long as tiny man-boys like that exist, I will have no problem saying, “Yes, I am a feminist!”