Thursday, November 5, 2015

The F-Word: Don’t Be Afraid!

Lots of great things start with the letter F! Some of my favorite things, in fact. There’s food, of course, which is what this blog is all about. There's also fun, family, fanciness, Fall, funny, fluffy, freedom. There’s even the great phrase, “fresh and funky,” which I think I read in a teen magazine once when I was in middle school. It might have been describing my very favorite 8th grade outfit: A choker worn with a plaid, ruffled “poet” shirt with bell sleeves, and a crocheted vest. Be still, my 90s heart.

But there’s another, F-word, too. It’s one that some people love but many more people are a little afraid of. Actually, some people are very, very afraid of it!

Hey, no, not that F-word. C’mon. This is a family blog.

The other F-word is….deep breath…FEMINISM. I whispered it when I typed it so you wouldn’t run away.

Oh, scary, scary feminism. That word is so heavy with debate and worry and hand-wringing. It evokes anger and fear. Why? Because, Oh my word, women are scary. We’re especially scary when we want to be treated like human beings.

Wait, what’s that I hear? That there’s GOT to be more to feminism than that? ‘Fraid not, peeps. That’s all there is to it. It’s wanting men and women, boys and girls to be treated equally. That’s it. End of story.

Very simple, really. Very straightforward. Very basic. Not scary at all. OK? Everyone on board?

Still no? Still scared?

I’ve wondered for a long time about why people would be afraid of or intimidated by this idea. I’ve scratched my head over it for so long that I think I have a little bald spot over my right ear.

And then one day I had an epiphany: It comes down to power.

People who deny that they’re a feminist often say it’s because they love men, and that they don’t want to disenfranchise men.

But empowering women doesn’t mean taking power away from men. Saying that women should be paid more DOESN’T mean that men should be paid less. Wanting girls to be educated DOESN’T mean that boys should be raised to be scullery maids.

The uplifting of one group doesn’t mean the pushing down of another!

It’s easy to see why people would be confused about this, though. We’re taught to compete! We’re taught to reach the top. And there’s only room at the top for so many people…if it gets too crowded up there, others will certainly fall.

But, call me crazy…I think there’s room for everyone. In fact, when it comes to basic human rights, there is no top and bottom. There’s only room to stand tall, or to be pushed down to the ground. The ground is hard, and rocky, and dirty, and you can get stepped on. But when you stand up, you can breathe. You can see the world around you. And when you’re standing up, it’s your human obligation to reach down, and put out your hand, and grab onto someone who wants to stand up, too.

So that’s all that feminism is. If you think that Joey and Mary should both get a dollar for cleaning the same toilet, then you’re a feminist. If you think that your daughter is just as good at science as the boys in her class, then you’re a feminist. If you think your mom is just as valuable to this world as your dad, then you’re a feminist.

Wear it proud! Don’t be afraid! Stand up! Reach out your hand. There’s room here for everyone.