Response to opinion editor’s idea of feminism
Steven DeCesare – Special to the Southern News
Admittedly, it isn’t often that I contribute to conversations like this one anymore. But after reading Ms. Natalie Barletta’s article on feminism, and after discovering what I would consider to be a real sincerity and genuine curiosity on her part, I felt compelled to weigh in on the matter.
Ms. Barletta seems to recognize that there is an aversion to feminism, a certain negative connotation associated with feminism, although she doesn’t seem to be sure of exactly why that is. I think that I can shed some light on at least one or two of the many reasons.
In the first semester of my sophomore year here at Southern, I overheard an interesting conversation between two young women in my class that, for me, served as something of a revelation. In short, one young woman turned to the other and asked about her major as well as her future plans.
“I’m going for teaching, actually, but what I really want is to be a housewife; this is just sort of my back-up plan.” You can imagine how surprised I was to hear this, but I was even more surprised by the first young woman’s response – “Me too!” It was astonishing, extraordinary, unbelievable! But it was even more than that; it was offensive. Allow me to explain.
There has been a big push for young women to attend colleges and universities. The reason, in large part, is feminism. It has been incredibly successful – so successful, in fact, that young men are now falling by the wayside. Here at SCSU, women make up about 61 percent of undergraduate enrollment.
Likewise, on many college campuses nationwide, it is not uncommon for female undergraduate students to outnumber their male counterparts two-to-one. I think that these numbers help to put the absurdity of the conversation into perspective; the two young women might have been better off marrying each another and taking turns playing housewife, as finding a college-educated husband capable of providing for them might prove more difficult now.
It must be nice to have that option though, to have a college degree in your back pocket just in case, to be capable of competing in the workforce but at the same time to retain the option of becoming a housewife. I wouldn’t know anything about it because while feminism has done well to remove from women the expectation that they are to become housewives, feminism has done virtually nothing at all to remove from young men the expectation that they are to provide for themselves and for their families.
Let me ask you: how much feminist ink has been spilt on fighting the stigma associated with a man’s choosing to become a stay-at-home father or “househusband?” Is it none? It’s none, right? So then how am I to take the argument that feminism means gender equality seriously?
And that seems to be what the modern-day incarnation of feminism amounts to; it’s having your cake – and eating it too. It’s good old-fashioned gender roles and chivalry when you want them, strength and independence when you need them. Furthermore, feminism has actually perpetuated certain negative stereotypes and myths that serve only to erode the self-esteem of our young men.
There’s this idea that all men are potential predators, potential rapists, that women are smart to be leery of all men, and it’s evident in much of the feminist literature, campaigns, PSAs, and, frighteningly enough, new policies and laws.
So I ask myself, what has feminism done to improve the quality of my life as a young man? If feminism really does mean gender equality; if our futures are intrinsically linked; if feminism means good news for everyone; then what improvements can I point to and accredit to feminism?
Sure, I can wear more form-fitting pants and jeans now, and that’s great, but at the end of the day, what’s expected of me, as a young man, is the same today as it would have been for me fifty years ago. That’s not progress, and that’s not gender equality.
So no, I am not a feminist, inadvertently or otherwise. There is just too much there that I fundamentally disagree with, and I think that to argue feminism means gender equality is somewhat disingenuous.
Let’s call feminism what it really is; it’s advocating for women, and that’s fine, but until the day my sons are able to choose between a professional career or more domestic work in the same way that women are able to; until the day my sons are no longer seen as potential predators and rapists; until innate, inherent male preferences and predispositions are respected and my sons’ playing with toy guns and toy trucks is not seen as some unfortunate result or side-effect of socialization; until then, no, I am not a feminist.