Friday, April 20, 2012

Yet another early sign I was a feminist

   I don't know what it is, but I feel like talking about feminism suddenly...

   First, a lead-in story... Yesterday at work we had our team meeting. There is about 20 or so people in my team...only two women, and one is currently on maternity leave. The one woman one the team currently at work pointed out that she was the only woman in the room. And, based on the names of the new hires, she's going to be one of only two women. But that segued into me thinking about gender-neutral names. Like Leslie, or Shannon (even if they do tend to be more popular as girl names). I don't think any of the names on that new hire list were gender-neutral...pretty sure they were all males. Anyway, that then segued into this time my father, who is totally not a feminist, seemed to be quite pleased that a man, with one of those gender-neutral names, had applied at was accepted into some program that was for women-only. My father's pleasure seemed to derive from this idea that if women want equality then they shouldn't have such groups. This then got me thinking about other things he has expected out of women, specifically that he thinks women in the military should have to shave their hair just like men. These ideas made some amount of sense to me at the time, but something didn't quite feel right. I was too naive to place a finger on the problem, though.

   Of course, I see the problems now. For that later example, the problem is with those who created the rules about shaving hair in the military, specifically the gender of those people. Yeah, they would have been males. So, my father seemed to think that if women want to be treated as equals to men, they should follow the rules that men put in place. Yeeeeeeahhhhhhh-no! I'm sorry, but perhaps women should at least have an equal role in creating those rules first! For that former example, it's difficult to really know what to say, at least in a way that will make sense to the person who doesn't understand. But a lot of it comes down to not being equal yet and being the underprivileged group. Yes, if women were considered equal to men, then it is true that such groups and programs would not need to exist. But we are not there yet. Far from it. Until women can achieve equality, then women's groups and programs are a necessity to combat inequality. Perhaps the best way to say this is that one cannot fix a problem if they act and behave as though the problem does not exist. Yet, what my father seemed to want is for women to act as though there is no problem, thinking the problem would magically fix itself. Or, it's also quite possible that my father doesn't think there is an actual problem.

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