Communities usually come together with good intentions.
We all get that.
Communities are made of people who aren’t perfect. Duh.
Communities are based primarily on survival and shared interests.
Twenty-first-century survival means getting a job.
Some people believe everyone has reached the point where there’s nothing stopping anyone from getting the job s/he wants—mission accomplished. (Of course, others disagree with how it’s all working in reality.)
When it comes to how we spend our free time, we only have so much of it, so we connect on shared interests, so some people are in and some people are out.
I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist. I haven’t simply been given equality in my life experiences, I’ve just had to try to figure out how to manage and deal with the consequences. As I began to see how difficult things still are for women, I set out writing, in part, with the hope of explaining why to the next generation. I was actually told by an agent from a writer’s conference that too many women have written about similar experiences, but that didn’t stop me from feeling it was important to share my stories. But, as I looked at the huge range of human right issues our world faces, I began to wonder if the concept of feminism was too limiting (not that I have the answer at the moment).
I’d just put up my blog and looked around on the internet a bit and stumbled upon a group of really pissed off guys.
They feel they have legitimate complaints now about discrimination, corrupt family law and male bashing. For some women, myself included, it’s hard to be sympathetic, but I don’t know every situation. I wondered how many women feel like they don’t really know enough and are concerned that they are making decisions on incomplete information.
Then I heard a young woman say she didn’t know anything about feminism.
Feminism’s goal is equality, which means feminists are just as sympathetic to any man who is abused physically or verbally.
Feminism is about equal access to education, which can be more difficult for women for a variety of reasons including lower earning power to get yourself through it and having children.
Feminism is about women receiving comparable pay, addressing discrimination in the workplace and being considered for some of the better paying jobs, which are often out of reach for many women who have children.
I think most women truly want men involved in caring for their kids. Women want to do it “all” because why? Women want all the power? Women want to punish men? These are ridiculous generalizations. People making assumptions and exaggerating in a manner that takes things way beyond what women are hoping to achieve, often simply with the intention to suit their own purposes.
In 1973, through the courts, it was pointed out that men are able to care for children and perhaps a number of them were enjoying a life that did not include having to care for their kids.¹ Yeah, women had to go to court for that. I have to say, it’s really hard to look at history, at how long women have been shut out of so much of the decision making—you can look at almost any document from recorded history and see that women were not part of any of it until about 1850—and feel bad that things might have begun to turn around “just a little in favor of women” in the past few years.
I also saw a post that said young people aren’t being influenced by feminism because most of the women remind them of their mothers and grandmothers.
That “girls” are looking for the “allure in feminism.” To bring young women into feminism they need to feature, “young, hip, college- and high school-age role models.” They need to be “raw, furious, not-going-to-apologize-for-being-angry, and deeply authentic.” But I am meeting one young woman after another who has been able to get an education and a job and since most guys are nice enough, they don’t even know why they need feminism.
I understand that, at this point in time, a lot of women have put a lot of energy into building extensive communities around feminism and know it hasn’t accomplished what’s needed.
But there seems to be a lot of different ideas about where we are and what needs to be done about it.
Everyone is aware of the progress the LGBT community is making and, while I know different groups can meet different needs, words are important to me. The word feminism feels “exclusive.” Sure, I’m a feminist, but I also believe in equality for everyone. Even the guy with the foul mouth.
When I started blogging, my tagline was “Hell bent on illuminating a new kind of feminism,” because I felt I had some ideas that might help change some perspectives, but that’s just one part of who I am.
I’m someone who’s tried to be tolerant and accepting of everyone, but have found over the years that to be “too trusting,” as Stevie Nicks so eloquently put it, can be harmful and I want to share those stories as well.
Some of the things I’ve written reflect my concerns about what it simply means to be human. And one thing I think is really important is not to make assumptions.
But, not being perfect, I did. I made an assumption about a word. I wanted to be part of a community. But I can also see how groups can be perceived as exclusive. Sure, there are a lot of men who are doing all they can to be supportive of women and are calling themselves feminists, but I want to understand if the idea of feminism is creating the kind of problems that women were trying to address in the first place or if it’s simply a matter of education and it’s just going to take time or if there are other things that are affecting it that women can address.
One other thing I felt I needed to consider, after seeing how many sites were focused on feminism, was, “Would it make sense for me to put up another site that was relaying the same kind of messages?”
So I am in the process of changing my tagline.²
Seeking Kindness & Questioning Everything (Which Also Means Looking Within). Simply sharing stories about my experiences.
My circumstances have made it difficult for me to find a community (I walked away from a group of people I knew for years because they were my ex’s friends; I haven’t found a church that has worked for me; and being a single mom and writer are incredibly demanding, etc.).
When I started writing I thought I would find community, but people write about so many different things that everyone connects with (…drum roll…) their shared interests. It doesn’t do much good to say, “I’m different.” Each one of us is rare collection of keepsakes and possibilities.
But there are lots of opportunities offered by the new global community. It’s giving me hope that I’ll find a community of people who think like I do—people who are curious about everything and understand the value of sharing our personal experiences—and that I am finally on the right path and will find my way.
UPDATE: I’ve joined a number of communities on Google+ and Twitter that are enabling me to see that the Internet offers the ability to connect in all kinds of ways. A couple that I have joined on Google+ are: progressives, writers, writer moms, memoir, spirituality and social change. On Twitter, I primarily follow progressives, writers, feminists and comedians. Facebook: writers, progressives, feminists, comedians and spirituality. I just started Pinterest a couple of weeks ago, following humor and other writers, for the most part, at this time.
I spent quite a few years writing alone. First trying to write a book on parenting, then I wrote a YA novel while my kids were with their father. The parenting book was pretty awful, but the YA book might have some potential. I’ve only been on social media since the winter of 2013 and I’m really enjoying the process of discovery. There are so many incredibly creative people! (On the downside there’s way too much spam, but I have hope that spammers are reading the liberal content of the internet and a quiet revolution is occurring around the world.)
I just saw this on Facebook:
Are there any young male feminists out there willing to take part in a study?
Hello! I am a final year student…seeking men aged 18-25 to take part in a study on men’s views on Feminism. All stances on the issue are welcome, but you MUST have studied Feminism in some way, whether in formal education of self-educated. Interviews will be conducted online, lasting approximately one hour via MSN messenger or Facebook Chat. Participants will be made anonymous in the study and are free to withdraw at any time during the interview and several weeks after. No webcams will be used. This study has received ethical approval from University of…and I can provide references from tutors if required. I cannot offer financial incentives but am happy to share my findings with you. If you are interested or know anyone who might be, please contact…for full details. Thanks! (I left the pertinents off so this person isn’t inundated with requests after the fact. I have the e-mail if anyone wants to message me to get it, if it’s within a reasonable time frame.)
Are you a feminist? Are you a man who is a feminist? What are your thoughts at this point? There is such a big impact when couples have kids.(3)
There’s a new movement of young women posting stories about what it means to be a feminist. And there is a huge push from the “right” to counteract everything that comes along with being a feminist. A lot of people are working on developing ideas that will break down the barriers to understanding the importance of feminism, equality, all of it. I have a few of my own and I’m working on figuring out how best to go about sharing it.
1) 1848 Seneca Falls Convention Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, the founding document of the women’s rights movement passage states:
He [the legislative and judicial patriarchy] has so framed the laws of divorce as to what shall be the proper causes, and in the case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women–the law in all cases going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands.
Fast forward to 1973:
While the divorce rate soared, the rules governing child custody grew increasingly confused. “The simple fact of being a mother does not, by itself, indicate a capacity or willingness to render a quality of care different from that which the father can provide” a New York court stated in 1973, challenging nearly a century of a judicial presumption in favor of mothers. The court rejected the notion that mothers and their children shared a special bond, invoking the authority of social scientist MARGARET MEAD, who once wrote, “This is a mere and subtle form of anti-feminism which men–under the guise of exalting the importance of maternity–are tying women more tightly to their children than has been thought necessary since the invention of bottle feeding and baby carriages.”
NOTE: I disagree about the bottle-feeding. I believe every woman should have the ability and help she needs to breastfeed her child at least one year, which means a woman is going to need financial support for a minimum of a year. If men don’t want to have to pay to care for children, stop having sex with women you don’t want to have children with. Check out this chart at Huffington Post — note the fact it refers to paid “parental” leave.
2) Facebook & Twitter are done, but having to wait until the webmaster can update my blog.
NOTE: My apologies to anyone who read this on Feb 5/6 and see that it has changed. I realized that some of what I said might be misinterpreted (i.e. the sarcasm used might have not come through correctly) and I have rewritten portions to try to clarify what was intended as well as adding some information that adds more to the conversation.
3) Check out the chart noted below, it refers to paid “parental” leave. This seems more inclusive than the ThinkProgress post only a year ago: How The Zero Weeks Of Paid Maternity Leave In The U.S. Compare Globally.