When I think of a feminist, I think of stereotypes like Jessie Spano from Saved By the Bell or the bookstore owners on Portlandia. I don’t really know what else to go on.
To make matters worse, no one can or is willing to define feminism for me. The answers I got when I asked people on Facebook were either A) “there is no one definition” or B) “you should read [so-and-so] book.”
So not only can no one tell me what it is, but I’m still left with stereotypes that no one seems to necessarily defend. I am a dad who simply wants to understand feminism. Why, though?
Because there is no denying the trading of so many traditional gender roles in the world of current American parenting. Like I’ve said before, changing diapers is no big deal at all for me. I can do that. I can learn to do a lot of things, but not all things are natural to my gender. In my book, changing diapers is neutral.
From what I understand, a feminist would say that when we assign gender roles to either parent, we are promoting sexism. Yet I was never able to breast feed. But I was the one able to get our son to sleep through the night by letting him cry it out. A lot of women would have a hard time with that.
I think it’s ridiculous to ignore gender roles. Why not work to the advantages of our natural abilities which our genders have graced us? Sure, some things are neutral; but others aren’t.
Are men and women truly equal?
Can a woman do anything a man can do?
Can a man do anything a woman can do?
My answer is: in theory. But in reality, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we know the real answers.
I celebrate the truth and find no shame in it. Celebrate women. Celebrate men. Celebrate both.
To me, if we can do that, we are truly not being sexists.
Sex sells; so does the idea of empowerment to women.
As the author of The Dadabase, I have made it clear that my mission is to positively re-brand fatherhood. In part, what that means is that I am attempting to undo the negative imaging of dads due to both A) lousy, absent, abusive dads throughout history and B) idiotic bozo examples of fathers in sitcoms and other media particularly during the 1980′s and 1990′s. It means I focus on the good dads out there and that I choose not to paint men in a negative light.
I am equally passionate about women not being degraded in society, as well. Admittedly, that’s a harder subject to address, for the fact I am a guy writing a blog that is primarily read by women- I have to be careful not to be seen as a bigot or a sexist.
The way I am wired causes me to see the world differently than women and I’ve been noticing something I just have to point out. Sure, I am putting myself in a vulnerable situation today, but I am choosing to be brave enough to acknowledge the irony in what is often viewed as empowerment to women.
Therefore, the best and most popular example I can think of is the beautiful, talented, and very intelligent artist, Beyonce. I invite you to watch her latest hit video on YouTube by clicking the pink link below; you may remember this video from when it premiered world-wide on the most recent season of American Idol:
From a man’s perspective, here’s how I interpret the meaning of the video:
Beyonce and a bunch of her scantily clad friends are in a battle with a group of dudes armed in riot gear. In the style of classic Michael Jackson, Beyonce and her crew stun and defeat the men simply because of their hip dance moves, plus a whole lot of sexual imagery. In the end, Beyonce removes the badge from the leader of the dudes, signifying that the girls beat the boys in the battle.
So ultimately, in my skewed perspective, the lesson learned from the video is that women can be more powerful than men by influencing them through sexuality; in particular, by wearing little clothing and doing plenty of body thrusts. (Cleavage shaking is a must!) As for women using their intellect, well, it’s not really about that. It’s actually about overpowering violent, sexually frustrated men by seducing them with the female body.
Challenge my analysis, please. Show me how this sort of imagery is empowering to women. Because in my testosterone triggered perception, this attempt of empowerment to women is actually degrading to women instead.
The way a woman dresses obviously sends a message to a man. I invite you to go to Google Images and type in “Beyonce 4″ and try to imagine what message is received by men when they see the album cover of her newest release, which contains “Run the World (Girls).”
I’ll give you a hint: It’s not, “Wow, I have a new respect for women now, but not at all in a sexual way. Women are strong, intelligent, and deserve the respect of men.”
So why am I singling out Beyonce, arguably America’s most influential pop star among young women right now? Why not point out the obvious “sex sells” marketing strategies of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, or Ke$ha?
Because people actually take Beyonce seriously. By far, Beyonce truly influences people beyond her music. She herself encompasses the idea of empowerment to women.
Notice I used the phrase “the idea of.”
For me, this is the wrong kind of feminism; it’s ineffective and damaging. Using sexuality to promote the independence of women is simply self-defeating.
Believe it or not, I am a huge supporter of empowerment to women. Knowing that across the world, there are girls and women who are sold into the sex trade, forced into abusive marriages, and deprived of education, I simply see that as hell on earth. Meanwhile in America, young girls are being taught through example by their pop star role models that flaunting sexuality is the key to having power in this world.
Call me a sexist, but I say that true empowerment to women has nothing to do with enticing men through sexuality. In fact, I say that’s the greatest threat.