My lack of makeup, my unshaved legs and unplucked eyebrows are not some feminist statement. My short hair, frizzed and in its natural bird’s nest state is not because I am just too fab to care about how I look. It’s because hot water is scarce and my bags are heavy. So I don’t put a lot in my pack because I was taught that “if you can’t carry your own gear, then you don’t deserve to have it.”
There are a lot of journalists and travelers like me. I meet them in Ukraine or near the Syrian border. And most of them are men.
The number of women who are interested in going to these places, at least from bar room conversations, are high. But between contemplation to action, many drop off.
I came across Indie Chicks magazine. Their tagline is “Embrance your Inner Badass”. A promising opening, but I reached out to them to discover that they didn’t cover politics or current events. Further in, I found that they resembled Cosmo Girl – how to love yourself, how to deal with break ups, get the man of your dreams, and all that jazz. Which is great. But hardly in the realm of “badass”.
Many women think that the few revelations of Charlotte and Sex and the City are a form of empowerment in kick-ass high heels. It is absolutely important to stand up for yourself and what you want in a relationship – but shouldn’t we have learned much of this in High School or in the collegiate years?
No one is a bad ass for being able to stand up for themselves or learn to live without a man. That’s just adulthood.
The world’s movers and shakers and the history-makers are overwhelmingly men. They are rare. Rarer still are the women who stand among them.
So this is where the feminist movement loses me.
Most women don’t want to be movers or shakers. They are more interested in things like relationships, looking good naked, or getting the man of their dreams. The feminist movement has pinned itself onto not discriminating on weight, youth and sexuality. They call this discrimination a form of oppression. I think that they have stretched the definition of the word.
In a sweater and beanie cap, I get mistaken for a young boy, and I realize I could be more fashionable. Yet none of the men around me care because I am surrounded by men of substance. The people most likely to comment are other women.
I’m certainly not going to bandy for their rights if they won’t fight for it themselves.
Because equality is not given. It is taken. It is not something that can be had in the passive tense. It is an action. I don’t believe we are created equal by a god. We make ourselves equal. That is our responsibility alone.
No one is Atlas, carrying the weight of womanhood on their shoulders. My rucksack is too heavy to accommodate that burden. Most women have the resources to take their equality. But action takes effort. It’s hard. It’s easier to force others to do the heavy lifting – like a maiden in a tower, waiting for the good looking protagonist. Because being the protagonist in your won tail is just too much work.
There are women, and girls being sold as slaves by Daesh (ISIS) in Raqqah, Syria. There’s genital mutilation. There’s women kidnapped into sex slavery or sold as child brides. There are girls getting shot when they demand to go to school. There are women who are tried and executed for infidelity when their husbands get tired of them and want a new wife. There are men who order their 20-year-old wife to jump in front of an Army truck to die so he can collect the $500 from Coalition Forces.
These are more pressing issues on the table, and frankly, I feel that western feminism is like the pop music of women’s rights – catchy, accessible, and easy on the emotions.
I didn’t always feel this way, of course. I have changed my perspectives over time as experience altered my worldview. Equality under the law is good enough for me. Social problems? That can be overcome by not caring.