Feminism Should be Celebrated, Not Junked -- One Man's Opinion
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One of the things that most made me a feminist as a young man was discovering the brilliant writing and ideas of women that frankly was not part of my education -- neither the working-class nor the Ivy League version. Reading theorists like Dorothy Dinnerstein, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan in the 1970s, and then Susan Brownmiller's stunning book about rape, Against Our Will, were real eyeopeners, and so was fiction like Loose Change by Sara Davidson, Marge Piercy's Small Changes, Margaret Atwood, etc. I found a world that was expressed quite differently than the male writers I mostly was reading. And that was a happy discovery.
4. Feminism is about more than just money and success. I have to confess that when I read that Marissa Mayers has a net worth of an estimated $300 million, I wondered how she became the symbol of what feminism should bend to, according to Rosin and Moore. Her main residence is a penthouse at San Francisco's Four Seasons hotel. She spends weekends in Vail. According to Business Insider:
She also has a collection of designer goods impressive enough to make Vogue gush. Oscar De La Renta, who has outfitted Eva Longoria and Cameron Diaz, told Vogue that Mayer was "one of my biggest customers." She bought 20 of his cashmere cardigans for her friends. They're about $2700 each."
Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, the 400 richest people in the U.S. have more wealth than half the U.S. population. Forty percent of American households – more than 100 million people --live paycheck to paycheck; over 46.2 million a re below the poverty line and on and on. Feminism was never only about corporate success, and it shouldn't be now. Having a women in charge doesn't always change things for the better for other women -- as it sounds like what's happening at Yahoo, where Marissa Mayer has built a nursery in her office for her child and her full-time nanny. On the other hand, having Nancy Pelsoi in charge of the House of Representatives made a huge difference for women, because she fundamentally cared about other women.
Feminism is about caring about a larger community, seeing the possibility of good for others, and not only in one's self-advancement; Feminism is about helping those who are struggling to get traction in a tough world: women mired in poverty; struggling young women with heavy college loan debt, a tight job market and the prospect of having to settle for far less than their dreams; aging women, working through the realities of getting old, both in the workplace and in the personal realm, and often facing much time alone. This is a fertile environment for feminism, for mutual support, where it is too easy to blame oneself for what can be challenging systemic conditions.
How can someone worth $300 million, someone whose every possible need is taken care of, be the face of a meaningful feminism? How can Hanna Rosin and Tracy Moore imagine that what Marissa Mayer thinks and says has much to do with any other woman, let alone with feminism?
5. Men still dominate in most positions that dominate our lives. Who has the biggest say in what happens in our world? Let's start with the too-big-to-fail banks. Do you remember seeing any women running these banks? How about the military and defense contractors that suck a huge percentage of our budget and generate hugely expensive wars that result in deaths and maimed and suffering soldiers? This is a world almost exclusively of men. (Though it is true that Marillyn Hewson is now the head of Lockheed Martin.) Men run the prisons, pretty much all of law enforcement, and everything else in the security state. Even Barack Obama's second cabinet -- Secretary of State, the Treasury and Defense departments, and the Attorney General (the biggies) -- are now all men, and Obama had to scramble to give his cabinet have some semblance of gender balance.