I guess I thought labels and stereotypes would go away with high school. I was wrong. Looking back, it was pretty naïve to assume that something so prevalent in more youthful times disappeared with adulthood. After all, we get our examples of how to treat people somewhere.
This morning I was reading a post from my very sarcastic, very smart blog buddy, Katie. In her post she was being a bit tongue in cheek about the hypocrisy that often comes with labels, though her post was specific to feminists. She often speaks in satire and generalizations so it’s something that if you should take into account before reading. I find her stuff entertaining, even when I don’t agree (which has been known to happen). This time, it was the comments that caught my eye in her post.
Katie and I have some similarities in how we were raised. We’re both from Chicago. We were both raised by single moms. We’re both smart and independent and proud of it. We’re both unafraid to speak our minds and enjoy writing blogs where we’re willing to take on almost any topic. The one area we’ve disagreed was in relation to interpersonal relationships and chivalry. Her independent soul finds chivalry to be irrelevant and unimportant as this post illustrates, whereas I find it to be hugely important and sadly lacking as I posted here. If you read her post, you’ll see in the comments just how different our points of view are. I guess that’s part of why her BS Feminism post drew me in….we were actually in agreement and it comes back to labels and stereotypes v. actual beliefs.
Let’s be honest…we’re all guilty of labeling and stereotyping. For example, how many people do you know (and hey, it may be you, yourself) hear the word conservative and picture either someone in a military uniform or a very wealthy person in a business suit who looks like they have a stick up their “you know what”? Or picture liberals as “tree hugging” tie-dye and hemp wearing hippies? Neither is accurate, by the way. Here’s the other kicker…being a liberal doesn’t guarantee you vote Democrat any more than being conservative means you are a Republican.
I’ve always disliked labels. I’m sure you’d all agree that we’re so much more than the labels people try to pin on us. It was actually during the Bush/Kerry election that my dislike turned to abhorrence. You see, I used to hang out on this one message board. Many of us had been friends for years. As often happens, closer to the election the posts got political. For whatever reason apparently, on this board, being gay meant you were supposed to be liberal, hence Democrat. Well, one of my very good friends didn’t get the memo. He broke that mold when he would proudly (and very articulately) jump into the debates on the side of Republicans. He won more of those skirmishes than he lost…which prompted another poster to tell him “I hope you get AIDS and die.” For voting Bush? Seriously? After hanging out at that board for more than 5 years I was done.
I’m not even going to touch the NRA….
So back to feminism. I’ll be honest…I’ve shied away from that label, too. Why? Because for whatever reason, the image I’ve grown to associate with feminism is not very complimentary. Picture an uptight, ball busting woman (often a man hater) who won’t allow simple niceties such as men opening doors, pulling out their chairs, helping them with their coat or paying the tab as if somehow it’s a slight to their ability to do so themselves. Don’t even pretend like you haven’t seen this behavior or know people like this. We all do. And that’s their right. It’s just not my cup of tea.
It’s easy to forget that feminism isn’t really about any of those things. In history class I remember cheering for the “bluestockings” and what they stood for. They wanted women to have a right to vote; for them to have a voice in politics. I loved that. I still do. Feminism is also responsible for laws that require women to receive equal consideration for jobs (as long as their qualifications are also equal). It has been responsible for women being allowed equal educational opportunities, equal salaries. It’s given us rights to make decisions regarding our bodies. I feel very strongly about self esteem and body issues whether they belong to men or women. I’ll take on anyone who goes out of their way to make another person feel worthless. These are all causes that I feel very strongly about…and wholeheartedly support!
Just because I may not be a huge fan of the label doesn’t mean I don’t strongly agree with the core of what it’s supposed to stand for. If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay! I’d love to hear your thoughts. If there are other labels/causes that you feel have gotten bastardized, share that, too!
At the end of the day, I think The Breakfast Club had it right at the end…. We’re a little bit of everything and trying to label it…well, it just gives extremists the opportunity to muddy those waters. 😉