The goal of feminism is generally equality. Equality for women. Equality for racial and sexual minorities. The idea (for just about anyone other than some of the more radical among us) is for a completely equal society. The question becomes not how to go about this, but, first, what does equality mean?
The most obvious answer, in America at least, is to be equal to men. The job opportunities and various privileges accorded to American men (seeing others like themselves on tv at any time, knowing that the person in charge is likely to be like them, etc.) are desirable to obtain or neutralize. However, men’s positions are not 100% enviable.
First of all, not all men have equal standing or opportunity. A White woman is likely to be in a better position than an African American man. Defining equality as “equal to a man” is problematic. This is not only because of race, either. A short, effeminate or fat white man is not going to get the same respect or bump as their more (hegemonic) masculine counterparts.
If this is the only issue, we could just boil it down to being equal to attractive, healthy, educated, straight and well employed white men. But there are problems with being even this type of man. The men are often stuck in jobs they do not want. They are emotionally repressed, because this masculinity is challenged by expressions of emotions, such as crying. Many more, of course, but you get the idea.
As a woman, do you really want to be in the position these men are in? Maybe the answer is “yes”. But keep in mind that you get all that comes with the package. Men are not without their oppressions, their payoff is just arguably better. You are no longer pressured to be a mother, but if you do not have a high earning job, then you are a failure. You are no longer a sex object, but violence and aggression become an assumed part of your performance.
I am not arguing that men are just as screwed as women. What I am trying to get across is that changes need to be made across the board and it is not as simple as raising women to men’s levels. Being a man is not perfect. Being a man with a vagina is not the ultimate solution. I will be going in to some suggested solutions in following posts when I discuss different feminist theories.
As always, I want to hear your thoughts on the issue (when they are constructed politely). Especially those who disagree with me!