A woman said to me yesterday “My husband left me and I’ve always depended on him. Now I have to figure out how to find a place to live and find a job but I don’t know how to do any of it. I haven’t worked since we got married, he made way more money than me. Now, I have nothing and he will still have everything because even if he left me the house, I would never be able to afford it. What do I do? Where do I start?”
How do you tell someone how to do life? I wanted to tell her we are all in the same boat with her because nobody knows how to live, really. We’re all just sort of figuring it out as we go. You know?
Instead, I told her to take it one day at a time and before she realizes it, everything will work out (because it always does) and I didn’t say it in a cliché kind of way, I meant it. Life, I’ve figured out in hindsight, has always worked out for me. Perhaps, not always as I’d envisioned it would but definitely always for the better. Especially, once I learned to stay out of my own way.
But that conversation left me thinking “this is why we need feminism”. Because women need to be equally capable of taking care of themselves as men are when relationships don’t work out.
Census numbers from 2012 show that U.S. women were more likely to live in poverty than men. Especially, if they’re raising families alone, and thirty percent of single mothers in America lived in poverty then (I’m not sure what that number is now).
Poverty among women is not only about the wage gap between men and women but, combined with the fact that women tend to end up raising their families alone more often than men do, women’s disadvantage in their earnings potential is ultimately what has the biggest impact on their economy.
Being a feminist is, sometimes, misinterpreted by people. It’s often confused with wanting to be better than men. People assume that if you are a feminist, you must hate men when what we really hate is the huge gap that exists socially, economically, and politically, between men and women’s rights.
I find it especially unsettling when the ones misinterpreting feminism are other women. My stomach sinks when women shame other women for doing things men have done since the beginning of time and no one’s batted an eye over it, or it’s taken as “men being men”. A prime example of it is that a man who believes and openly expresses that women must be “grabbed by the pussy” is running our country RIGHT NOW.
Yesterday, a female user posted on Facebook “It’s sad, but I’ve never seen a generation of women be more proud of being hoes, strippers, side chicks, and sluts” to which I replied, genuinely intrigued, “Why is it sad? Men have been proud of doing the same shit since the beginning of time and I’ve yet to hear one man call another one any of those names. We should really stop judging each other so harshly.”
Rather than replying to my question, the post was taken down completely or I was blocked from seeing it because I couldn’t find it anymore.
I often wonder if women who don’t believe in equality truly believe that other women should be treated as less than and shamed for the same behaviors that men are praised for. And I wonder if they portray so out of fear of their own strength, or out of shame for not standing up for themselves.
Honestly, I believe that those who feel threatened by feminism are either men who don’t deem women worthy of being treated with the same respect they expect to be treated with, or they are women who don’t realize that there is something terribly wrong with women having to say that they have a boyfriend in order to stop someone from harassing them at a bar because it’s easier to get a man to respect another man who may, or may not, exist than it is to be respected for being a human being.
Perhaps, those women have been raised with patriarchal values and they don’t know any different. I don’t know but I won’t shame them for it.
My wish for them is that some day they realize their own potential, and that they stop contributing to their own oppression, so that they can step into their own power and thus join the rest of us in paving the way for other women to realize their strength, beginning with our own daughters.
As for me, I am raising mine to recognize her own strength, because feminism isn’t about making women stronger, it’s about helping them realize the strength that is already within them so that they may stand on their own two feet and do the hard things we have been told for so long that we are incapable of doing.