Labels, Stereotypes and Causes

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. 😉

Is Women’s Lib Killing Our Alpha Males?

At the risk of offending some people, I’m going to be candid. Maybe it’s because of a post I read last month from Once A Month 4 Ladies or maybe it’s the election or maybe it’s a memory of an old friend, but people’s perceptions on feminism lately have been driving me nuts.

First I’ll tell you what I do believe:

  • Women deserve to have the right to vote (you may say duh, but that’s actually a fairly recent right!)
  • Women of equal experience and education as men deserve to be paid at the same salary
  • Women should be able to try out for any type of sport, and if they’re talented, deserve equal consideration as their male counterparts

I may have forgot a thing or two in my list, but I think you get the general gist. And then there are the extremists when it comes to women’s lib. They kind of ruin it for everyone because they send mixed messages to the male gender. Earlier I mentioned a friend. My friend and I were out with a bunch of people one day (mind you, we were in high school). We’d just arrived at the restaurant when one of the guys from our group walked ahead of us and opened the door for us. I said thank you. She snapped at him, telling him she wasn’t weak and she could get the door for herself. Confused, I pulled her aside. She explained to me that she wanted to be “treated like an equal” and not some “weaker sex”.

I was completely floored! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that “women’s lib” had made it all the way into the dating scene. Maybe it’s old fashioned of me, but I don’t think it has any business in the dating scene. I’m not a “go Dutch” kind of girl. I like when a guy opens the door for me or pulls a chair out for me. I don’t see that as him treating me as a member of a “weaker sex”. I see it as the man I’m with paying his respects…and in some very old school, old world way…maybe paying homage to the beauty of womankind in general.

And yet these days men walk on egg shells, unsure of what’s expected of them. We women bitch and bemoan the loss of the “alpha male” and that men “don’t treat us right” when they don’t take charge or he pauses at the end of the night, unsure if he should be paying for the whole tab or part of it. Who do we have to blame for this? Ourselves!

You want an alpha male? Stop trying to neuter him! When he opens a door, say thank you and smile! When he holds out your chair for you, find a way to let him know it’s meant something and that you appreciate the effort. And no, for my dirty birdie friends out there, I don’t mean crawl under the table and “show him gratitude”…well, unless you want to. (hehehe!) I mean maybe touch his arm or make eye contact and give him that special smile that lets him know you really appreciate the gesture. And for goodness sake, ladies…don’t go on a dutch treat date unless you got suckered into one.  Usually that’s the beginning of something not so special…”if you know what I mean”. 😉

What about you ladies?  Gentlemen?  Care to weigh in on this topic?  How do you feel about women’s lib?  Am I the only one who thinks it’s gone too far when it’s pushed it’s way into the dating scene? Are there other places where it’s crept in and done more harm than good? Inquiring minds wanna know!

I enjoy the mystique that women posess. I like being treated like something special. I thrive on being flirted with and doted on….and I don’t think that should be out of date or old fashioned. I also like those alpha men who enjoy taking charge but respect the fact that women have minds of their own and are able to think for themselves and fight their own battles (but offer to always be there for back up if needed).