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.
Dictionary.com 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.