Back in 1990, I read an article in TIME Magazine entitled, “The Road To Equality: Sorry, Sisters, This Is Not the Revolution” by Barbara Ehrenreich (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,971600,00.html)
I was 22 and single at the time and the article resonated with me enough that I remember it even now, 21 years later. I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s with the understanding that if I didn’t pursue an important, powerful and lucrative career, I was somehow letting “the sisterhood” down.
Growing up in suburbia, I saw that if I wanted respect and power, I needed to behave like a man. As I saw it, masculine virtues like strength, ambition, assertiveness and rationality were valued vastly beyond that of feminine qualities like compassion, nurturing, cooperation and intuition. Unless I wanted to be walked on my whole life, I’d need to be tough and act like one of the guys. I was basically ashamed of the softer parts of myself; if anyone ever saw my weakness, they would surely destroy me.
Conversely, I can see now that at that same time, more and more single moms and (typically female) school teachers were raising boys to believe that if they wanted to be loved, they needed to adopt more feminine characteristics. In school and at home they were required to be quiet, sensitive, and generally docile.
So here we are in 2011, and as I see it, the feminist revolution started out as a desire to see feminine values and characteristics become seen as of equal importance as masculine values and characteristics. In other words, I can be 100% feminine and be equally respected and valued in society as any man who is 100% masculine. Unfortunately, along the way the feminist revolution got hijacked into this preposterous disaster where men have been told to behave like women, women feel pressured to behave like men, everyone is confused, divorce has skyrocketed, kids get the worst of it and no one is happy.
The saddest part as I see it is that as a culture, females didn’t adopt the masculine characteristics that were the best in men. I saw my first episode of “Sex in the City” at the gym the other day. Is this how modern “liberated” women are supposed to behave? Will I really find tremendous self-confidence and satisfaction by living for my career, banging every attractive male I come across and bragging/lamenting about it with my equally shallow and self-centered friends? Count me out.
And guys– I long for the days when it was okay for men to be direct and straightforward instead of all this passive/aggressive nonsense because you’re hesitant to stand for what you believe. I can’t tell you how many grown men I’ve known that behave like little boys, needing a mommy more than a partner. You are afraid of being punished for acting like men. I get it. It makes my stomach turn, but I get it. We’ve gotten you so confused, you don’t know WHAT you’re supposed to do. Squash the spiders but cry at the movies, stand up for me but never let it come to blows, make a good living but don’t ever let it compete with me and/or the kids, take care of the kids, but do it exactly the way I tell you because your way is W-R-O-N-G, dress really trendy, but don’t act like you’re gay. Of course the greatest demand seems to be, “Be strong and masculine and sexy unless I crack the whip in disapproval. Then come cowering to my feet and do as I say.”
For 40 years, we’ve been yanking you poor guys around like yo-yos telling you to behave like brave tough guys when we’re scared and then to be passively submissive 10 minutes later. When you can’t snap back and forth fast enough, we are furious with you. You just can’t win, can you?
Here’s a crazy thought: what if men once again were allowed, no– encouraged to be strong, agressive, assertive, brave, competitive, and rational leaders. You can be all of those things without having to be coarse, brutal, self-centered users.
What if women were valued for being cooperative, intuitive, nurturing, merciful, and gracious without resorting to being weak, codependent, emotional manipulators?
And to those women who have fought long and hard to rise to the top of their fields, congratulations. You deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But please don’t condescend towards those of us that made different choices. Just because our rewards can’t be measured in dollars or titles, it doesn’t make them worth less.
Thanks for letting me get that out of my system. Let the scathing rebuttals begin….
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