Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anatomy is destiny

I consider myself to be a fairly progressive, forward-thinking woman. A feminist, even, loaded and complex as that label has become. I have read "The Second Sex" and "The Feminine Mystique." When I worked for Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in New York, I handled a lot of amazing feminist-related documents, like Susan B. Anthony letters, suffrage posters, and early birth control literature by Margaret Sanger. Fascinating stuff.

But I'm just going to come out and say it-- feminism is complicated. It's got more waves than Kirk Cameron's hair circa 1985. And sometimes I like getting different treatment because I'm a girl. Like the other day, when I got a cup of coffee at a gas station and tried to pay, only to have the guy at the register wink and say, "For you, free." I'm guessing this doesn't happen as often for dudes.

I guess this technically makes me a supporter of cultural feminism, which "emphasizes the difference between women and men but considers that difference to be psychological, and to be culturally constructed rather than biologically innate." In other words, I like to celebrate my femininity and in some social situations, I don't want to have to act like a man or expect to be treated like one.

When it comes to having doors opened for me, I certainly don't expect it -- but when it happens, I can't say I'm not charmed by the gesture. I always sincerely offer to pay for my half of a date, no matter if it's date #1 or date #307. But if a man insists on treating me...well, I'm not really in a financial position to turn down a free meal.

Do I think it's fair to be paid less than a man for doing the same job? Of course not. But I'm not thrilled about the prospect of being, say, drafted into the military, which liberal feminists would see as fair in an equal society.

Anyway, not sure why this is on my mind lately...."feminism" is a term thrown around a lot, and while few women I know would object being called feminists, it's a word that means different things to different people and should be used judiciously.

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