Growing Up Personist


Sujatha over at Fluff-n-Stuff had tagged me for a meme. And unlike most memes, this one was so straightforward that-- instead of piddling around with six facts, or five lies, or 100 things, or seven dwarfs or three stooges or whatnot-- it just stormed right on to one big ol' loaded question:

Are you a feminist?

Now, Sujatha, knowing my deeply philosophical work-- (ahem)-- recognized instantly that this question might need a bit of Cabbagization to fit well here...

That hot-button topics that get folks sniping at each other and throwing chairs and burning their bras, are things that we here at Cabbages try to steer clear of.

Mainly because I believe in reupholstering chairs, not flinging them... And one of my blogging friends is, oddly enough, a bra, so that fire thing is right out... And also, I simply prefer Cabbages to be a snipe-free zone.

So Sujatha had suggested that I might want to do an LOLCats treatment on the topic or something. Of course, I would never do anything like that.


It's so overdone these days. Everybody's doing it, and see, I believe in taking the road less traveled.

So what was I talking about? Oh yes. Feminism. Am I a feminist?

Well, let's take a look at the dictionary definition of "Feminism."

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as:

"The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."

And hey, Equal is good! I mean, when I pour myself a cup of coffee, the first thing I do is reach for Equal.

Wait, is that the one that comes in the little pink packets? No?

Oh.

Well, bugger.

But the thing about feminism these days is, most of us females born in the U.S. in the 70s have not had to actively battle for rights, to enjoy a reasonable amount of equality in our lives.

I mean, yes, growing up, my dad pretty well refused to even look for anything for himself in the refrigerator. Oh, this man-- who is clever enough to have built his own underwater sound recording equipment-- would stand helplessly in front of the fridge searching for the ketchup right in front of him, seemingly unable to recognize the famous Heinz bottle unless it was placed directly in his hand.

Which my frustrated mother would eventually do, just to get the room temperature back to normal.

But in 70s America, things they were a-changing. Girls enjoyed Barbies and dress-up, but playing in the mud and with cars was okay, too. We had role models like Wonder Woman, but we still watched Leave it to Beaver reruns. And if we chose to wear make-up and heels? It was because we wanted to wear them... rarely because the dress code said we should.

In the 80s, we could sport a tie and trousers á la Annie Hall... Or a gown to the prom á la Carrie-- er, sorry-- Molly Ringwald.... Molly Ringwald. It was a time some of our moms started to have jobs outside the home, some of our dads helped pick up the slack.

And going to college? For many of the girls in my class, college was a given. Although, of course, if everyone followed through with their high school plans, that
also meant we graduated a whopping 75 veterinarians...

Yep, if a dog ate a sock anywhere in Northern New Jersey, one of my classmates would be there to remove it.

As for me-- I can, and have, changed my own flat tire. But still appreciate that guys would offer to help. I like it when a door is held, but am just as willing to hold doors for my fellow humans, too-- male or female. I mean, a certain amount of civility to other folks really shouldn't be too much to expect....

Unless, apparently, you're at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. Then, it seems it's everyone for themselves.

So when that question, "Are you a feminist?" comes up, I have to think about it. Feminism conjures images of speeches and demonstrations.... power struggles and pepper spray.

If anything, I'm just some lazy-butt gal who's had the good fortune of growing up in a place and time where I reaped the benefits of the shake-up before me. I seem to have reached it just when Girl Power first started really digging its heels in-- whether they're sensible shoes or four inch stilettos. I had the luxury of growing up more, er, personist.

I believe in personism for everybody.

There's still some room for improvement, of course. Only-- I don't know-- now we've got LOLCats pushing their own agenda, we've seen that pro-cat propaganda take off like wildfire...

Some movements simply can't be stopped.

20 comments:

Karen said...

Apparently we were born to the same mother, and both had the father who was unable to feed himself from the refrigerator. I too am seriously glad that all those fighting women came before me, so I could go to college and wear what I wanted, and get a job not involving a typewriter or kids.

PERSONISM FOR EVERYBODY!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Karen- Heh, even now that my mother's no longer alive, my dad still considers cooking a bit of a waste of his time-- he has to weigh the whole starving versus heating something up in the microwave issue. So I totally hear ya. It's of a generation, I think.

Prefers Her Fantasy Life said...

I am a feminist, but the plunging neckline kind. I mean, who could disagree with equality of the sexes?

Jenn Thorson said...

Meg- Well, I'm certain some do. But personally, I feel I've probably experienced more Agism in business than Sexism. Though I'm in a fairly creative industry, and so the Good Old Boys Network is more at a distance.

Sujatha said...

Yay for personism! And that does include the freedom to stop wearing pantyhose and shaving legs and armpits (How preposterous those quaint 20th century traditions were, on par with crinolines and whalebone corsets!).
Also (D_ you Sarah Palin!!!), I would gladly stand up to yield my seat to a pregnant man, of whom there might be more around some day.

Jenn Thorson said...

Sujatha- Well, the current trend for everyone in fashion right now seems to be waxing out every bit of body hair in sight... But I think Personism doesn't take a stand on that one way or another. :)

ReformingGeek said...

I enjoyed this post. Of course I love the cat as they are so full of themselves that none of these issues matter.

I like to think I'm capable of taking care of myself but I also like it when Hubby comes to the rescue and then doesn't rub it in.

But when guys (or gals) take that bossy bully attitude, I would love to have that tennis player's backhand. ;-)

Olga, the Traveling Bra said...

THANK YOU for not burning your bra! It is the most heinous form of Bra Abuse. {{shudder}}

I fully support Personism! I mean, I'm a person too...right?

Jenn Thorson said...

ReformingGeek- It's true the cats are above all this. Eventually we will ALL bend to their will, so anything we achieve hardly matters.

Olga- I have to consider you a person, dear Olga, as I chat with you too often-- and also, the alternative would make me fairly unwell in the head. "Bras are people, too!" :)

Sukie said...

Even though I grew up long before you, as a child I was taught how to do all sorts of things considered 'a man's job' by my dad. I could mix cement, plaster over holes (albeit badly) hang wallpaper, paint walls, at least the bottom part ;O) My dad also helped my mum out around the house, by washing floors, doing the dishes etc. There was no sexism in our house.

Once I became an adult it was lovely to be treated 'special', to be given a seat on the bus or train - but I also treated anybody older than myself with the same respect. Mothers with a baby, would get my seat. It was a general thing, not just men giving way to women. Many times I gave a seat up to somebody if they looked a little tired, or looked like their feet ached.

Sadly. with this fight for sexual equality, everything changed. Suddenly we found men letting swing doors go, right in your face! A person could be in a state of near collapse and nobody would give their seat up for them! It changed EVERYTHING!

With the good came the bad, as is usually the case.

Sukie said...

Oh sorry, It's Babs :O)

Jenn Thorson said...

Sukie/Babs- Heh, I know who you, er, both... are now-- we're cool. :)

I think that door slamming is in part the general self-absorption of people in general these days. Folks who carry on conversations in pathways or in the middle of the street with no concern for others wanting to get through. Folks on cell phones not giving the cashier so much as a hello, or with earphones on so they can block everyone else out. I get excited now when someone-- male or female-- is considerate or takes their turn. I like fairness. There's enough to go around.

Da Old Man said...

I don't want to change my name to Da Old Person, so that would mean I'm a lolcat, or a feminist?

The ketchup bottle thing is a genetic problem. Men are hunters, so if the ketchup bottle was moving, we'd find it and spear it. Women, the gatherers, are genetically superior at finding things that are just sitting around.
I'm pretty sure the Heinz Museum has a cave drawing of the first cave dweller, Wilma, handing the ketchup to Fred.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- I think you could probably do well with LOLCrotcheties. :) The issue with the ketchup bottle is, that if the bottle were prey, hiding in a refrigerator jungle, then you guys would all be extinct pretty quickly. This is why evolution is important.

Jay said...

I don't remember my Dad EVER opening the fridge, let alone actually attempting to find anything in it! Neither do I remember him making a cup of tea.

Of course, I grew up in the fifties and sixties. I wasn't allowed to play with cars, guns, mud, or even Meccano. I've been a tomboy ever since I could exercise the choice! Ha!

But feminist? Nah. I think feminism has done us a whole heap of no good, along with the good. I'm just not cut out to be militant about anything. And I need my bras. ;)

chyna said...

Jenn

has your dad ever called you at work to ask you where something is in his own house? My dad did that just a couple years ago. Yep I laughed my head off, will give him points though. He was trying to surprise my mom with a b-day or anniversary dinner and wanted to put out a table cloth.

Negative points for not even comprehending that they've been in the same cupboard since they designed the house. And I haven't lived there for years. He has also called my db to ask him if he knows where my mom keeps something. My brother lives in Seattle. sigh

I think in many people's minds feminism equals lack of manners. You can be equal without being rude!

Melanie said...

I grew up in the seventies and early eighties. I love the idea of personism, though most people who know me would probably call me a feminist (only because they've never heard of a personist).

I was raised by a mother who was a working mom (nurse) long before other moms were working. My dad could sort of put together a meal and he taught me to do whatever needs doing whether it was feeding livestock, running tractors, building barns, rewiring the shop, or cooking for a dozen hungry ranch hands.

I was raised to believe girls can do anything they want to. And I live in an area where tradition (or chauvanism) runs real deep. I tried to get a job yesterday as a farm hand and nobody took me seriously. It's ok to be my dad's hired man or my husband's hired man, but the guy down the road won't hire me.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- No, he hasn't, but your tales made me laugh. You guys need to remind him, "HOW long ago was it I lived there?" No- I try to sort of hang back with things when even I visit. I get a hotel so I won't make work for him, we go out to eat... I don't try to control anything, but don't ask for anything either. It's the only way, really.

Melanie- That's frustrating about him not hiring you. I supposed in order to prove yourself, it would require so much Above and Beyond the Call, it just wouldn't be worth it.

Jess Riley said...

I once tried to explain this concept to my very religious father. When I said I thought I might be a "humanist" (aka "personist"), his head nearly exploded.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jess- Oh dear-- and you sort of wonder how a theory which boils down simply to "be excellent to each other" can get some folks so upset.