Monday, March 7, 2016


I'm late putting my post up today because I had a difficult time figuring out what I wanted to say about this month's topic: Feminism.

In fact, I skimmed through Katie and Kai's posts before sitting down to write my own. (And yes, I'll go back and read them thoroughly, and suggest you do as well. They both have a great take on the topic.)

I write stories with strong female leads, so it seems like the topic of feminism would be easy for me to discuss. But, this is a controversial issue, and while I'd like to blame my dislike of conflict for my avoidance of the topic, it's more that I'm not sure how to get my thoughts across, but I'll do my best.

When I sat down to write this post, I looked up the definition of feminism, hoping something there would give me that "ah-ha" moment and I'd know what to say. defines feminism as the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

A pretty straight forward definition. Equality for all. It reminds me of when I was in high school and we had an assembly where we were shown how orchestra members were chosen. A blackout screen was set up and musicians stood behind it and played, being judged on their merits of performance, not appearance. To me, it was a demonstration of the best way to choose someone for any job. Based solely on their abilities. Something I still believe in to this day.

But something else happened that stuck with me. I remember as one person approached, and the sound of their heels clicked through the room, the conductor commented that the person should have worn flats, or something quieter so as not to give away their gender. And I wondered why the sound of the shoes should make any difference to the quality of the performance. Honestly, it shouldn't, but there probably are some people who would judge them different for being a woman. Some would use it as a reason to add an inferior performance, giving exceptions because they were a woman and wanted to reward them for that. And others might find an excellent performance lacking, because they perceived that a man could perform it better.

Both of these actions are wrong, and I think the reason that the feminist movement is such a controversial topic. I think many people see feminism being used to further women into positions that they might not earn on their own merits. As a woman, I'm offended when another woman is given something (job, title, bonus, etc.) just because she's a woman. It's wrong and doesn't further equality between genders, in fact, in my opinion, it only widens the gap.

The other issue I have with feminism, is that to me it doesn't seem to apply to all women world wide. There are places on the globe where women are still treated as little more than property, and yet some of the loudest proponents of women's rights in this country turn a blind eye to the inequality of their situation. It makes me question why it's alright for those women to be treated in a manner that most of the free world abolished two centuries ago. Why do those women deserve to be left so far behind the rest of us? That doesn't seem very equal to me.

I guess all this is my way of saying that we treat people as a whole different (men/women, rich/poor, insert comparison here), and I believe it's because we spend so much time focusing on our differences rather than on the things we have in common. And that the focus on these differences serves to divide us further, rather than help us unite toward a common goal.

What do you think? Do you think things would improve if we worked at focusing on our commonalities more than our differences? If we shared our strengths, merging our weak and strong points together to make a united front? I know in the fiction I write, this is what I try to do with my characters. Balance them out so each fulfills a need the others has and becomes the best version of themselves.

They save fiction imitates life. So, do you think we could work on imitating that and leave all the labels that mark our differences behind?

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Katie L. Carroll, Kai Strand, and me, Mary Waibel. We post on the first Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on this page, and link back to our three blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation.


  1. Your post ties in so much with what I've been blogging about for three weeks--ageism in picture books. I know that might seem a stretch at first read, but at their heart the issues are about stereotyping. One sex is better at something than the other. One age is better/happier than the other.

    Loved reading this, and it reminded me I haven't posted my bit on the topic yet. I'd better get going.

    1. Thanks Lee!

      With all the divisiveness that is rampant in our country today (well, for me in the US), I feel very strongly that if we took a moment to focus on what makes us the same we'd have such a better outcome.

      I'll have to stop over and see your series (you've intrigued me!) and I look forward to reading your thoughts on our #inkripple.

  2. I'm often conflicted when I see headlines that say things like "First African American to be XY or Z" or "First Women to Gain the Title of Blah" because in a perfect world it is their skill or abilities or experience that got them there, not what they are. At the same time, I don't want to minimize the accomplishment of being the first woman or black person or whatever to have made it. I guess I just wish it wasn't the headline. I wish the headline would focus on HOW they achieved the position and then mentioned oh and by the way cheers for being the first woman. Because I feel like we should be way beyond that in 2016, but focusing on it keeps it in the forefront. *Sigh* I guess what I'm saying is, I understand.

    1. Exactly!

      While I understand, and agree to a point, that we should be applauding that they are the first "whatever" to attain "insert accolade here", the focus shouldn't be on what makes them different. It should be on their success and how they got there and how others can too. Man/woman, black/white, short/tall, why is the description of the person in the headline what we have to focus on?

      By this time in our world, we should be in a colorless, gender-less society, cheering each other on for the pure sake of achievement. That's how I believe we show that we're truly equal: when labels no longer define us.

  3. Feminism has been a hard topic for me to approach as well. It comes from a place of fear, I think. I'm afraid to voice my opinion and have think it's not important or that they might even attack me for it (Internet trolls are such a huge problem these days, and largely they are attacking women and their views). I'm also afraid that I'll sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, the old inferiority complex kicking in. Then I wonder if I would have those same fears if I were a man. I'm not sure I would because men have always had the right to speak their minds and many do it freely without fear of judgment. This helped me to see the importance of feminism, and I decided that it was a topic I was no longer going to be passive about. Right now I'm taking baby steps, feeling the waters and also learning about my own feelings on the issues facing women (and girls) today. Okay, stepping off my soapbox! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mary. I sometimes think it's the hardest thoughts to share that turn out to be the most important.

  4. I'm not sure writing this post would have been any easier if I were a man, as I believe I'd have the same insecurities,  thoughts,  and behaviors as I do now.  They are what make me me,  and are what make sharing my deep personal thoughts and beliefs with the world difficult.

    That being said, I truly believe we place too much value on labels and differences. 

  5. I'm not sure writing this post would have been any easier if I were a man, as I believe I'd have the same insecurities,  thoughts,  and behaviors as I do now.  They are what make me me,  and are what make sharing my deep personal thoughts and beliefs with the world difficult.

    That being said, I truly believe we place too much value on labels and differences. 


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