The Most Inane Post of the Week

And now let me present to you the most inane piece of writing about feminism I have seen in a while. Honestly, I’d much rather some people stayed away from topic they are not intellectually equipped to handle:

And the truth is, I do, I do appreciate the options. I understand that for years, women had no options and the fact that now we have them is decidedly a GOOD THING.

But sometimes it makes me wonder if all these options are weighing us down.

Because we have to make decision after decision after decision and then we feel we have to defend said decisions — to our parents, to our partners, to our friends, to ourselves. And as we defend our decisions, we relitigate them in our minds. Yes, it was the right decision to stay at home. Yes, it was the right decision to keep my name. Yes, it was the right decision to have only one child.

It’s strange because, actually, traditional definitions explain feminism as a movement to achieve equal rights and opportunities for women. But typically, men don’t actually have all these choices, or they don’t think they do, at any rate. Most men don’t decide whether or not to change their names; they don’t think about it all. Most men assume they will not stay at home with their children. And men never have to decide between a skirt or pants! Instead of having equal opportunities, it sometimes seems like women have more opportunities than men. And also more decisions. And more decision fatigue.

Of course, a decision whether to wear a skirt or pants is somehow so much more complicated and crucial than the decision to wear a sweatshirt, a dress shirt, or a T-shirt. Oh, the horrible, horrible feminism that gave us all these confusing wardrobe choices.

Aside from the very silly simplifications the author of the post I quoted uses here, the real issue that the post attempts to address in such an unintelligent way is that many people (completely irrespective of their gender) can’t decide whether they want to stick to the system of strict gender roles or move towards the system of gender equality.

“It would be great to have a successful career and make a shitload of money. However, if I fail at achieving that, will I still be able to gain my entire social validation from the fact that somebody married me?”

“Sure enough, it’s cool not to have to shoulder the financial burden of keeping the family all on my own. But would a financially independent woman still need me? Would she also expect me to contribute equally to housework? Because that would kind of suck.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t mind a husband who splits housework equally with me. But what if he ends up making a lot less money than I do? What he ends up being unemployed for months or for years? Am I ready to accept that I will have no source of financial support to rely on in exchange for being a woman?”

“I’d definitely like to live in the world where people come together and stay together not because they have no other way to make a living but simply because they love each other. However, if I don’t manage to interest any woman enough to love me for my own sake, will I still be able to purchase one (or two, or fifteen) for my own personal use?”

The sad truth for the yet undecided is that you really can’t have the proverbial cake after you have gleefully consumed it. You have to choose whether you want to live in a world where your genitals strictly define who you are and what you can do and reap all the attendant benefits and suffer the attendant limitations that this system imposes on you. Or, you can choose to accept the idea that having a penis or a vagina carries absolutely no social, political or economic meaning. Then, you will have a new set of limitations and rewards implicit in this way of being.

The good news, though, is that this is a choice you don’t have to keep making. Evaluate the benefits and the cost of each system to you, pick one, and stick to it. Only just decide already because all this “Sure, feminism is great but. . .” whining is getting too annoying.

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6 comments on “The Most Inane Post of the Week

  1. I’m sorry you felt my post came across as “sure feminism is great but” whining. I guess my post didn’t clearly articulate what I was trying to get across which was:

    1) I find it tired that now feminism is all about “options” which I think are somewhat overrated. I find the whole “options” thing to be banal … “isn’t it so great we can CHOOSE to change our names or not?!!” It’s idiotic.
    2) On the other hand, I have to admit that I do appreciate those options, and also do sometimes wonder why men do not, generally speaking, seem to be given the options (or think they have the options) to work or not work, to change their name or not, etc etc.
    3) I think constantly having to make decisions and defend those decisions is exhausting. And I believe it’s worth having a moment of grace, if you will, to pause and realize that we are all fighting our own battles.

    Perhaps this all came for a place for me where as a somewhat strident feminist I find myself rather unsympathetic to women who choose to fall into traditional roles (but it’s their choice!) And I was trying to remind myself not to judge other women so harshly because those decisions and defense of decisions take a toll.

    But I disagree with you that you can choose whether to live in a world where your genitals define who you are or that you can live in a world where they have “no social, political or economic meaning.” The fact of the matter is that there are social and political institutions that constrain us, and beyond that there are physical issues that constrain us (for example breast feeding). I don’t think it’s as simple as you purport it to be.

    The other problem that I find is that feminism has mostly been focused on bending gender roles for women. This presents a problem when men still think they need to be the primary provider, or when men never think about changing their name, etc. I think that until men’s gender roles become more flexible (and yeah, I think that includes “silly” stuff like clothing) we’re never going to achieve anything close to gender parity.

    • “why men do not, generally speaking, seem to be given the options (or think they have the options) to work or not work”

      -Because then we will have situations where nobody will want to work and just insist on being provided for. This is obviously not a feasible situation. :-)

      “And I was trying to remind myself not to judge other women so harshly because those decisions and defense of decisions take a toll.”

      -I must be a lot more strident as a feminist than you are because I judge people for choosing such roles and don’t feel a bit apologetic for this at all. :-)

      ” This presents a problem when men still think they need to be the primary provider, or when men never think about changing their name, etc. I think that until men’s gender roles become more flexible”

      -The future I imagine is one where no able-bodied adult is a kept toy of another able-bodied adult and nobody renounces their identity for the sake of somebody else’s.

      Thanks for the response, ruchi!

  2. Bourgeois mores are rather a mystery to me as I can only ever view them from the outside, rather than partaking of them on an experiential level. Compliance with bourgeois mores seems to involve operating within a category of identity and fulfilling the requirements of that particular categorical definition, without doing things that either contradict it or suggest that one did not have the skill set to perform it effectively.

    I suspect this need to produce public compliance leads to the view that feminism needs a public and clear definition, similar to the definition of “man” or “woman” according to traditional conservative culture.

  3. I look at this as discussion as a failure of feminism to achieve its goals. Men should have the same decisions available to them as women (e.g. changing one’s name, working outside the home less to have time for housework), with no more or less judgement made against them for the decisions they make than women.

  4. The logical fallacies there are painful. It’s not the making choices there that are the hard thing, but defending them. So we need to focus on establishing not having to defend them, not retreat from making the choices.
    I’ve also come across the ‘it’s so hard making all the choices! And women’s choices carry so much more chance of messing up the already more difficult life I have! It’s so tiring!’ I have some sympathy for this one too, because you know, choices are hard; I find it difficult too. However, just because you personally find making choices hard and would prefer to not make them, doesn’t mean that other people should have their choices taken away just because you don’t want yours. That’s where this train of thought pisses me off generally, because people never seem to go: ‘And that’s why feminism is awesome, because I can let someone take over for me and run my life if I want, and also not if I want, and also I can find someone who will let me run their life for them if they want, or I could even mix and match!’ No, they always seem to skip to the, ‘it was easier in the old days’ framing.

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