I like being a woman. I have never felt even remotely bad about being a female member of the species. Chalk it up to an adolescence miraculously devoid of the unrelenting glare of women’s magazines, a fantastic relationship with my supportive parents, or being born in the good ol’ United States of America, but I’ve always known that being a girl is pretty awesome.
And the only time it even occurs to me to feel bad about my sex is when feminists start telling me I’m doing everything wrong.
The most recent feminist triumph had nothing to do with advocating for the right of women to drive in Saudi Arabia or for the right to life of unborn children killed simply for the crime of being girls or any other such problem. It was a campaign organized by high-achieving and popular women such as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to, um, “ban” everyone else from using the word bossy. I already listed seven of the problems with this campaign (e.g. girls don’t need over-protection, victims of unduly assertive people need a word to use to combat bad behavior, not everyone’s a leader and it’s time to stop shaming people who aren’t.)
But one major problem with the campaign is that it has taken a word that wasn’t gender specific and made it into one. So in the name of feminism, we have forever joined the term “bossy” with “girl-trait” in everyone’s minds. What are you going to do for an encore, feminism?
In response to the campaign, Elle magazine came up with an even better idea: “While We’re Banning Stuff, Let’s Ban Sorry“:
Every day, for myriad reasons, women are apologizing to me: for opening a door I am about to enter; for reaching over me at the salad bar; for standing in front of the open refrigerator and gazing at the variety of chilled milks. It’s the same thing every time: A well-spoken, confident women will notice that we happen to be sharing the same space, cast her eyes downward, and mutter a quick and meaningless, “sorry.” Most of the time, I say it back. It’s nothing more than a ritual, a salutation, a paper-thin pleasantry. But she’s not sorry. And I’m not sorry. So why are we saying that we are?… we’re apologizing. For living our lives. For dressing our salads. For being lactose enthusiasts. Sorry, but I’m simply not sorry for any of those things. United we stand. Let’s #bansorry together.
OK, I get it. Some people apologize too much. I’ve found the trait annoying among certain friends.
But I’m a proud issuer of apologies, when the time calls for it. And feminists can shove it up their freaking pie hole (not sorry!) if they have a problem with this. It’s called being courteous. And I wish more people would get over themselves and freely apologize when they’re inconveniencing someone. The problem with this world is not that we don’t have enough people apologizing for lack of courtesy.
Here’s the thing, though. Every time feminists come up with some campaign, isn’t it weird that it devalues female traits and identifies masculine measures as the ideal?
Enough already! Women are different from men. (If this statement offends you, please send the hate mail to this address.) We have vaginas and wonderful breasts to nurse the children that gestate in our amazingly awesome wombs. And long-story-short, because of the way our biology relates to the propagation of humanity, we tend to rock things that men tend not to rock. We’re super good at nurturing the ties that bind. We are tuned into interpersonal relationships and managing conflicts.
This is a feature. This is not a bug. This doesn’t need to be corrected or overcome or, for crying out loud, banned.
Feminism these days basically seems to mean denying our biological differences, much less how these differences might affect what we do with our lives. We’re supposed to just be like men. All the time. We’re supposed to do everything in our power to keep our wombs barren — using chemicals or the violence of surgery, if necessary — for decades at a time so we can be not-pregnant just like men are not-pregnant. We’re supposed to view sex the same way men view sex, even though the consequences of sex are actually entirely different for men and women.
We’re supposed to ban words so girls can be CEOs who outsource childcare to other people (usually lower income mothers), never-mind that most women actually express a desire to have some sort of work-life balance that does not involve being CEOs. Nevermind that being a CEO actually sounds miserable to a good portion of the entire population, male and female!
We’re supposed to force women into STEM careers whether they want it or not. I was a STEM student (assuming economics counts — definitions vary). There were very few women in my class — even though economics is one of the more relationship-minded fields related to mathematics. I always liked to point out that the name of the field comes from the Greek oikonomíā, for household management. But now that I do real household management, I can tell you that keeping children alive and giving them and my husband the comforts of home is more fulfilling than even utilizing whatever I gleaned from intermediate macroeconomics. If you can believe it.
The old saw about feminism is that it’s “the radical notion that women are people.” Are we sure that’s still the case? Because at least now feminism seems to be about trying to make us something we have no interest in becoming.
I’m happy to be the way I am, and I don’t need Sheryl Sandberg or some women’s glossy to tell me that I shouldn’t be.