Modern feminism is about having the power of choice in all your affairs.
Blogger Amanda Jayne Sankey would be a feminist if this was the early to mid-twentieth century. She’s all for equal pay. But she doesn’t want the things that those of us she refers to as fourth wave feminists are fighting for, and no amount of explaining it to her will change her mind.
Getting married and staying home with the children is Amanda’s dream role, but what she doesn’t understand is that it’s because of feminism that she has the ability to make her own choices. “Why are women considered the more domestic and nurturing ones?” she asks. Amanda’s answer is because women carry babies inside them and like cooking and should want our boyfriends to seek the approval of our daddies. But this fourth wave feminist who can bake the best of cakes, wants men to be recognized as nurturing and to not be seen as incompetent domestic partners. I don’t think it’s right that when a father is caring for his children, many people call it babysitting instead of recognizing the care a father gives as being equally important to the care a mother gives. That whole equal pay thing gives couples more choices as to how they want to structure their households. The correct answer to Amanda’s question as to why women are seen as the nurturing ones is because a patriarchal society, which includes male-dominated religion, depends on women believing in fairy tales that limit their choices.
“Feminists wouldn’t have you believe these things.” Oh see, now she’s gone and done it. She’s channeling her inner Phyllis Schlafly and putting out the rallying cry to all women who want to embrace traditional gender roles that feminists are their enemies.
“But listen carefully when I say that you are not called to submit to any man but your husband. You don’t submit to your boss. You don’t submit to your boyfriend. You don’t submit to your brother. You don’t submit to any man that you are not married to.” I’m so thrilled to know that I don’t have to give up my autonomy and self-respect unless he puts a ring on it. Truly.
“The man is to be the provider, protector, and leader of his family. That is a lot of pressure. And I don’t understand why feminists want to take it on. Why would you want that?” Because some of us are strong and intelligent enough and have enough respect for ourselves and men that we don’t need for one of us to take on the role of protector and the other the role of the protected. Some of us believe that relationships are equal partnerships. Some of us understand that men and women both face a lot of pressure and believe that we’re both capable of the nurturing that dear Amanda holds so dear.
“And while you are in your period of singleness, it is okay to be independent. But when you get married, you don’t have to be. And that is thought of as a bad thing, when really, it is a gift. It is a weight lifted to have a husband you can lean on.” Maybe Amanda is unaware that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Between 10 and 14 percent of married women have experienced sexual assault by a husband or ex-husband. Sometimes that man who is so quick to jump into the role of protector over a fragile being is really an abuser. And let’s keep it real, ladies. Even in non-abusive relationships, only 57% of women are experiencing “the gift” during sex compared with 95% of their partners.
Feminists aren’t the enemies of traditional gender roles. We just don’t want them forced upon women like they were up until the mid-twentieth century when Amanda apparently thought feminism was okay. Amanda and Phyllis Schlafly are extreme examples of women who want other women to feel threatened by the thought of having to live in a world where other people make different choices. There are others, though, who are not as extreme and are uncomfortable when feminists, whether they be male or female, go beyond equal pay and start speaking out about the inequality that exists in the marketplace, households, bedrooms, boardrooms, and in the political sphere. We get tone policed and are accused of being man-haters, when the reality is that as we continue to smash the patriarchy, we expand choices and increase positive outcomes for both men and women.
It’s not necessary to change Amanda’s mind. It’s perfectly acceptable for her to stay in the kitchen making her man an endless supply of sandwiches if she wants. That’s her choice. What’s not acceptable is pretending that feminism isn’t the reason she has that choice in the first place.