5 Things Feminism has done for me
As it is the beginning of Women's History Month, I thought, like jeff at 'where'd that bug go?', that I would post my list of the 5 Things Feminism has done for Me today. It seems very apropos:
1. Saved My Life - yes indeed. Had it not been for feminists arguing for equal rights for women, changing the divorce laws and bringing issues like spousal abuse (know as 'wife battering' back then) to the public attention, my mother would have been trapped in an abusive relationship back in the 1970's. She would not have been able to escape and probably would have been killed by my 'father'. Where would I be then? A violent drunk like him? Even alive? Because she could excape, because she could have a job and her own bank account, because being a single parent or a divorcee was no longer the social stigma it had been even 10 years earlier, we were able to have a pretty good, albeit poor, life.
2. Opened up the world to me and my daughter - my daughter can come to me and tell me she wants to be an astronaut, a soldier, a dancer and a swimming instructor. It allows me the luxury to know that my daughter can do anything she wants and her intelligence won't be pigeon holed into nurse, elementary school teacher or stay-at-home-mom - unless she wants to do those thing. Feminists have truly given my daughter that choice, the same kinds of choices her brothers have.
3. Made my wife and daughter people, not property - up until about 1910, rape was a property crime, a tort, not a part of the criminal law. A rapist was guilty of stealing the sexual property of a father or husband rather than for harming a woman. That made situations where women were not afforded the same kind of criminal law protectiosn as men (see #1 above). No longer. My wife and daughter are protected because they are human beings, not because they are legally my property.
4. Opened a new world of sports - yes, this is a silly one, but it is one nonetheless. I can now watch the Olympics and cheer on our Women's Hockey team, just as hard as the the mens (harder actually since they seem to win). I can be in awe of great hockey from Cassie Campbell and Hayley Wickenheiser, something that would not have been possible for me as a hockey fan and for them as players if not for feminism and Justine Blainey.
5. Opened communications - feminism has allowed, even forced us to talk about uncomfortale issues and deal with them, rather than sweep them under the table. Things like the aforementioned spousal abuse, or child abuse, abortion, adoption or divorce.
That is not to say their work is done, however. We still have people that think you need a penis to pull a trigger or aim a cannon and wish to keep women out of combat. Women still make on average about 75% of what a man with similar qualifications and experience does for the same job. There are those that think women should be made to stay home with their children rather than work, even if that means living in poverty. Our political process and Parliament are still made up of men, when 51% of the population are women.
I would consider myself a feminist, in that I believe in the equality of the sexes - equality of opportunity and equality of treatment.
So long as there are people out there who will tell my daughter that she cannot do something, or must act a certain way, simply because she lacks a penis, then we still need feminism.