The F Word

“Chris can you stop by our house today at lunch, I really need your help.”

That was me speaking to hubby’s voicemail.  The problem – I couldn’t get the outlet covers off the wall and I desperately wanted to paint the office before the day ended.  A screwdriver didn’t work; the end of a knife didn’t work.  Sigh.  What’s a girl to do? I panicked and called the hubby.

I was thwarted by tight screws and then…I thought of the drill. 

My husband has gazillions of tools.  This guy is no MacGyver throwing duct tape on everything that’s broken.  He’s got tools and he knows how to use them (insert some ZZ top background music).

I know because  I’ve watched him use tools for 12+ years. 

I decided it was my turn to give the drill a test run.  ZZZUuuu, zzuuuuuu and the screws were out.  It took roughly 2 seconds and that included a break for a drink of water.  Why oh why had I not played with this miraculous tool before?  At what point did I decide there were “things that boys do” and “things girls do”?

Flashback to my high school days. 

Georgia in the late 80s early nineties where hair was BIG, southern accents were thick and our generation (at least in my house) was learning that women could now do anything.  I walked with my shoulders held high because I was going to have an amazing career someday and take the world by storm.  First of course I had to figure out what boy was the cutest and practice writing my name with his last name next to it.

Oh, and if I needed gas I wasn’t going to get my hands dirty at the pump and stand out in the heat.  I would just wait until my dad could fill it up for me.

As a matter of fact, I never filled a gas tank until I left town to go to university.  Why should I when daddy would do it – after all isn’t car maintenance a “guy thing”.

(Sorry dad – you’ve been outed for spoiling your daughter when she was a teen but I promise not to tell them about how you would take me to the mall to buy me a new outfit if I was in a bad mood)

I never mowed the lawn until 4 years ago when we decided hubby’s allergies were so outrageously bad I would have to give it a whirl.  I can’t feel empowered however because I asked the hubby to be in charge of purchasing the new mower that would be lightweight for me.  I remember this because he bought me a “cute” John Deer.  Come to think of it I’m pretty sure I’ve only filled the red gas container we use for it once at a gas station and even then I went to a full service station and asked a boy to do it for me.  Oh and I defiantly don’t weed whack I don’t care about his allergies that much.

At this point I’m sitting at my desk with my head bowed in shame and I’m literally cringing while typing.

You see on the other side I can be feminist to the point of frightening others around me.  The book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter is one of my favorites.  You probably haven’t read it.  Don’t ask me to loan it to you because I will refuse.  You see, I write in my books and this one has a lot of underlining in it. 

p. 34 “Yet the truth is, as long as one woman is dehumanized, none of us can be fully human”

p. 23 “I’d been disturbed by a stream of statistics, such as four times as many girls die worldwide of malnutrition as boys because boys are preferred and given more food.  Or the fact that women do two-thirds of the work in the world and receive one-tenth of the world’s wages…(FYI she backs up the stats)”

p.  52 “As Jungian analyst June Singer points out, when a girl is growing up, it is not taken for granted, as it is with boys, that her life and needs will be primary, that she will have access to places and authority and power like her brothers or father.  What is taken for granted is that she will find her main source of fulfillment through her husband and family, that she will be secondary to them.”

p. 55 “Through accomplishments and perfectionism we hope to atone for the “original sin” of being born female.  We are hoping that Father God will finally see our worth”

Unlike the author, I haven’t turned from the traditional church, in fact I’m an elder* at our church, I do however resonate with her views on inequality among genders.  {*My denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, voted to approve having women elders in their churches in 2000.   I have a photo of my mother-in law, a wise and competent woman finally becoming an elder in our church once the ‘rules’ were changed}

The show Jersey Shore is currently popping up in articles and blogs with the word feminism swirling around it.  I don’t watch Jersey Shore but I can say I don’t think women’s sexuality or ability to choose to flaunt it is the totality of feminism.  I personally don’t want men to objectify me or my daughters and I don’t think it would equate to female empowerment.

Check out MacLean’s (see link above) to read more about this topic. 

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.  ~Mary Wollstonecraft

What I AM curious about in regards to feminism is how I, who THOUGHT I had strong views on myself as a women – my worth, how others view my worth and my dreams for the future of women in society could possibly not use a drill until I was 37 because hey why should I?  The boy can do it.  

My husband’s response when he learned I used a drill “WHAT!  A woman using a drill”.  Yes, he mocked me.  He knows I tend to be a feminist except when it benefits me to play the helpless female role because he’s watched me do this for 12+ years.

Honey, can you plunge the toilet?  I don’t know how

Seetheart, can you call the roofer about his quote for the roof?  You’ll understand the technical aspects better.

Can you put my suitcases in the van? 

I’m so embarrassed.

I suppose it is time for me to walk my talk.

I’ll get right on that.

Meanwhile, I wish Chris would get home soon.  I need him to hook up my printer, turn on the grill and change a light bulb.  I hope he remembered to take the garbage out this morning.

Here are some quotes you might enjoy.

Feminism is dated? Yes, for privileged women like my daughter and all of us here today, but not for most of our sisters in the rest of the world who are still forced into premature marriage, prostitution, forced labor – they have children that they don’t want or they cannot feed.
Isabel Allende

I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead.  He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war.  ~Robert Mueller

It starts when you sink in his arms and ends with your arms in his sink.  ~Author Unknown

No one should have to dance backward all of their lives.  ~Jill Ruckelshaus

The young women in my classes are feisty and clever and believe, often with the passion of youthful optimism, that feminism is a battle already won. I worry for them – and for my daughters, too.
Louise Brown

Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.” – Erica Jong

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is:  I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.  ~Rebecca West, “Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice,” The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.  ~Evelyn Cunningham

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power.  You just take it.  ~Roseanne Barr

Man endures pain as an undeserved punishment; woman accepts it as a natural heritage.  ~Author Unknown

I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career.  I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.  ~Gloria Steinem

One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man.  ~Marlo Thomas

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One Response to The F Word

  1. Kim says:

    I agree with Marlo Thomas’ quote. I also agree with the Jersey Shore comments. Liking and actively pusuing me so they can objectify me is not my definition of feminism. However, I think one aspect of feminism that many females (myself included) tend to overlook is the concept of choice. I see one of the great victories of feminism was our hard fought right to choice. We can choose career or home. Kids or no kids. Husband or not.

    We too often tend to judge. You choose career and people wonder where your husband or kids are. You choose home and people wonder why you are turning your back on other hard fought rights that went along with the marches of the 20’s. You choose one kid and people wonder why you stopped there.

    Perhaps it is our need to fulfill your page 55 quote and anyone who has a different view of what perfectionism looks like or what accompllishments will please the “Father God” the most will be judged in some way shape or form.

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