Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

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Warrior Girls

February 6, 2016

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but childhood nostalgia pulled me to the new Star Wars film during the holiday break. Chewy and the gang did not disappoint. However, the movie, which had the potential to stand as an intense feminist film, fell short of an achievement in gender equality.

The movie was diminished by the new and powerful female lead, Rey; not because of her performance, which was stellar, but because she was referred to as ‘the girl’ throughout the film. Rey was not four or eight or twelve-years-old. She was not a girl. Rather, she was a tough and buff young woman. Very few young male warriors are referred to as ‘boys’. Why was she?

Not only did the film fall short as a feminist model because of biased language; the never-ending scrutiny over Princess Leia’s aging face demonstrates that our culture lacks support for older, striking woman. The standard for a beautiful woman remains a size-2 teenager. Realistic? Not in my world. The prejudice about how Carrie Fisher weathered time as opposed to Harrison Ford is staggering. And yet, I shouldn’t be surprised. As modern and free as our society has become, women still fall short on the equality factor.

Here are a few brief facts. According to the National Committee on Pay Equality, in 2014, women still made 78.6 percent of what men earned. Forbes reported that only 26% of college presidents are women, and according to the Catalyst, a mere 4.2% (a total of 21 women) hold CEO positions for the S&P 500 (a list of 500 companies). I could go on—there are gender differences in almost every field.

So what happened to the women’s movement? Somewhere along the line, since the 1970’s, feminism became a dirty word. The lobby became associated with armpit hair-growing, men-hating activists who thumb their noses at stay-at-home mothers. This characterization was and is fueled by people who want to maintain a patriarchal power structure. Those who want women to keep quiet behind men encourage stereotypical branding.

How do we grow strong daughters when their future is capped by a society that doesn’t fully embrace gender equality?

For one, we embrace the word, ‘feminist,’ and redefine it to stand for strong and powerful girls who become strong and powerful women, unafraid to defend their integrity, their grace, and their belief in themselves. A feminist should be able to work from home as a mom, an organizer of their family. A feminist should be able to work as a CEO with or without having children. A feminist should be able to make her own choices without prejudice or backlash.

Language is a subtle but powerful method of creating hierarchical structures within a culture. Words like ‘girl’ might seem innocent or even sweet, but words can be dangerous. If we begin to understand when language is used in negative ways, we can begin to unwind destructive behavior.

Above all, we can teach our daughters and our sons that although men and women are inherently different, both genders should be given the same opportunities, the same respect, and the same privileges without inherent bias. And when movies do cast a strong female lead, and the directors do something belittling; like referring to her as a girl and diminishing her power, let’s talk about it. Let’s point out the inequality and not let it slide by. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey is a female warrior, not a little girl. Not only is she physically strong; she’s smart and savvy, and funny. All such young warrior women should be championed.

 

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On Being a Slacker. . .

March 16, 2009

Be all that you can be.

-U.S. Army slogan

What if all I want to be is a couch potato? Ever read the book, Confessions of a Slacker Mom? Well that’s what I am today. A Slacker with a capital S.

I realize there’s a choice. I could be all that I could be. I could wake up and fill the kids backpacks with organic, nutritional treats, prepare a three-course breakfast including freshly squeezed OJ, kiss my husband good-bye, work productively at my writing, volunteer at the school, organize the ski team party, clean out the coat closet, make homemade spaghetti sauce for dinner, and make sure the kids do their homework after soccer practice. Or, I could be a slacker.

Why does the choice have to be so extreme? Why do moms think that being all they can be, is to be supermoms?

Do we need to work all day? Do dinner? Dishes? Do it all? Of course not. Moms often put that on themselves. Spouses, kids, and babysitters can be part of the equation. Besides, dishing out junk food on occasion won’t cause cancer. I realize Twinkies don’t really have a place in the food pyramid, but come on. Are they going to kill my kids? Give us a break already.

Moms, whether working at an office or working for the PTA, have been given far too many demands. Be all that you can be does not mean being a wife, a mom, a marathon runner, a community organizer, or say, a governor all at the same time. That’s the definition of insanity if you ask me.

What kid needs an insane parent? What office needs an insane employee? What community needs a crazy activist? A true feminist does exactly what she knows she needs to do for herself. Not for the entire planet. Being all that you can be means being who you are, not what everyone wants you to be. There are days when we are best as caregivers and other days we are best at being managers. There may be days when we are best at being hung-over. Being present in who we are at any given minute, makes us the best that we can be.

Pass the popcorn. Today, I’m heading for the couch. Slacker.