Monday, December 3, 2012

The blame game

I don't know whether feminism bashing became the latest trend, but frankly I am getting a bit tired of it.  I am tired of highly educated women who reaped all the benefits of feminism, such as education, suffrage, and equal opportunities at work, bashing that same feminism and blaming it for all social ills.  I am tired of this longing look at our past, with clearly defined gender roles, and cherry-picking of all the nice things about it, conveniently forgetting that not everything was nice and peachy.  Seriously, if a throw back to a time when woman's place was restricted to home is so desirable - please, half the world still lives this way and you are free to choose:  Pakistan, most of India, Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other countries where incidentally few women from U.S. are rushing to move.

The latest feminist bashing comes quite unexpectedly from Dawn Meehan of BecauseISaidSo blog.  In her latest piece, Dawn blames the lack of femininity in modern day women on some men's lack of desire to enter  marriage.  We can argue this premise until the cows come home (and are milked by the properly feminine women), it's not the premise that I find odd, it's Dawn's definition of femininity.  Based on all prior reading of Dawn's stuff, driving a car, being smart and educated, having strong opinions, wearing pants, participating in competitive sports - all the things at some point considered not appropriate for refined women - are not unfeminine.  What is?  Being able to change a tire, do minor household repairs and earning high enough salary to support oneself financially.  In a nutshell, not being a damsel in distress 24/7 and not even attempting to fake being one is why some men don't want to marry.

I have heard this idea before, that women are responsible for all social change.  Men remain more or less the same, it's us women who change social mores.  I don't know if it's empowering to women precisely because men in these scenarios sound like helpless creatures in need of control and manipulation.  However, it is very convenient for blaming - we can blame women for everything!  Obesity is the fault of working women.  High crime rate is the fault of single mothers.  Glass ceiling at work is the fault of working women who choose to procreate and have the audacity to like their children more than their careers.  High divorce rate is the fault of women not investing enough time into their families. And now men's lack of desire to marry is also somehow women's fault.

Do you know what I find very surprising?  It's rarely men who express these opinions and do this type of bashing.  It's mostly women bashing other women.  And somehow Dawn, a very intelligent woman, is missing a double standard in her own writing.  When she, the recently divorced mother of six, ended up without child support, a job or good prospects of finding one, there were quite a few people who criticized her choice to stay out of workforce for so long and not having a financial back up plan.  She felt that the consequence of her choice deserved sympathy, not scorn.  (And just to be clear, I think it absolutely did.)  Yet career women, due to the perceived consequences of their choice not to be completely financially dependent on men and thus turning men off marriage, deserve nothing but blame.

And the most surprising thing of all, is that the women Dawn describes - aggressive, constantly competing with the opposite sex in every facet of life, and out there to prove that they don't really need men -  are very rare in real life.  And you know what else?  Every single one I have met was married, some managed to land a husband more than once.  So maybe, it's not what's turning men off marriage after all?  Maybe, it's constant bashing of other women that does?  Or maybe it's our insecurities about our life choices, which make us bash each other, that are so off putting to men?

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