"Oh, no" I can hear the groans now. "Sharyn, don't tell us you've jumped on the Feminist bandwagon. Don't you know they want to kill our children and emasculate our men?" I'm aware that modern feminists have the agenda of demanding "respect" from men by belittling the role of men in our society. But here's a secret...
That's not how feminism started!
The original feminists demanded equal, not superior, rights, and saw things like abortion and quotas as "abhorrent". In fact, original feminists once called abortion an act "forced upon women, by men." These were the true American girls; Comanding freedom, and accepting nothing less than complete control over their own lives. Now, I, personally, see no bias against women, at least, not in the respect that we must "demand" respect as much as command it in our actions and choices. The foolish child makes demands; the wise woman commands respect. In this sense, I do consider myself a "classical" feminist - nothing, but nothing, will be denied me just because of what's between my legs and on my chest. But there's the problem.
Modern feminists see Big Sister as the solution to every problem, slight, and dilemma. Sexual harrassment? Make the government pay for sensitivity training. Having a child? Maternity leave. Colleges rejecting applications? Demand quotas.
This is where feminism has hurt women: We have demanded that women no longer think for themselves, but think for The Collective. If you're a married, stay-at-home mom, you're a nothing - you're a less
than nothing, you're a traitor to your sex. If you're in the work place and leave to have a child, you're giving up a fulfilled life to "stay at home and bake cookies"*
Here's the thing, though. Maternity leave hurts women, sexual harrassment lawsuits hurt women, and quotas hurt women, much the way that Affirmative Action hurts blacks. Don't believe me? Let's take a little glimpse at economics, shall we?
The purpose of a business is to make money, by providing a service that helps others and employeeing people to grow, and therefore make more money. Maternity leave works in exact opposition to this system by forcing employers to pay for work that isn't being done, because the employee isn't there. Essencially, you're forcing your employer to pick up the tab for your decision to keep your job after having a child. While The Sisterhood may be proud of your choice to leave your kids to nannies when you return to your job, your employer will, undoubtedly, be slightly less enthused. By causing businesses to pay for women who aren't working, you're creating a disincentive to hire women. The solution, it would seem, then, is to eliminate maternity leave. But no...
Instead, let's implement quotas! But, there's a catch there, as well. The fact is, there just aren't as many women who want to pursue a cut-throat job at a Fortune 500 company as men. You're not GOING to reach quotas when the necessary requirements cannot be met.
The famed statistic that says that women earn 75¢ for every $1.00 earned by men is an accurate statistic -- IF you look at men and women across the board. This is because women, for the most part, prefer "humanities" work, like nursing and teaching and social work, whereas men prefer to be lawyers, doctors and company presidents. Women start small businesses at a higher rate than men is also an accurate statement, just like the statement that over half of all small businesses fail within their first year. Women don't like high-risk occupations, simply put. Going out on a limb to follow a dream is a fantastic and admirable American quality; falling flat on your face in an attempt to do The Sisterhood proud is a whole other matter. Here's an example.
In Los Angeles, CA, it was noticed that there was a severe lack of female police officers. The solution? To impliment a quota on hiring female officers and increase women on the force to 42%. The problem? Not enough women applied, and of the ones who did, even fewer could pass the physical training! It was then decided that, in an effort to be gender "sensitive", the physical aspect of training be "dumbed down" for more women to pass. The result was that improperly and poorly trained female officers were put onto the streets to meet a demand by a city council who decided there weren't enough boobs behind badges. How insulting.
In today's America, women do not need government to tell us what they should and shouldn't be doing, and we certainly don't need other women to tell us. What we need to do is put up with the fact that sexual harrasment exists (but not around every corner and off-color joke), that we are different from men in more ways than two, and that we'll never get anywhere by always pointing the finger at someone else. The key to success in today's America is to keep our chins up, our minds always active and focused, our legs together unless we're willing to raise children the RIGHT way, and the knowledge that greater women than we have marched, argued, debated, written and fought for the rights we have today. Let's live like we appreciate that, instead of demanding more than we need, and respect what they've done for us and not forget the legacy they left.
*Hillary Clinton's comment in mid-March (2001?) that she "could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas" instead of pursuing a career.