I am Betty Fokker.
My life is very, very good. I have a wonderful husband, my true love, Sweet Babou. We have three precious daughters, who I’ll call Lilo, Stitch and Spock. I stay at home with my girls, as opposed to doing paid work in the public sphere. I love them with my whole heart, and I am endeavoring to help them to grow up to be strong, confident, and happy … but not to be entitled little twits. I tell them about their Appalachian heritage. I make every effort to feed them wholesome organic food. I teach Sunday School for the preschoolers at the Everybody’s Welcome Episcopal church. We have two dogs and a fish. We have rosebushes. We live in a small town in the Midwest, and I know my neighbors. I have a lot of high-quality close friends. I am extremely grateful for my good fortune.
I am also a feminist.
I’m not shy about it either. I have a zero tolerance policy for sexist (or racist, or homophobic) bullshit and I feel free to speak my peace whenever I’ve a mind to.
The anti-feminist groups would insist I cannot possibly be a stay at home mom and be a feminist too. I would be too busy eating the souls of puppies, throwing rocks at children, spitting on housewives, and helping my lesbian lover oppress men. Then I would have breakfast, and get ready to do the really bad stuff.
Let’s debunk some of that silliness, shall we?
Pat Robertson once said, “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians”.
Seriously? Can anyone look at that sentence and really buy into it? It’s barely a step up from saying we turn into giant kitten-eating bats during the dark of the moon.
There are a lot of different feminisms, but at their core they are all just after equality, so that every human being is treated with the same basic rights regardless of gender. (This doesn’t include the faux-feminists whose anti-women’s-rights agenda has made them patriarchal darlings, BTW. I am talking about feminists who actually want all women to have rights, not just a privileged few.)
Feminism also wants all people (including men) to have equal rights regardless of ethnicity and sexual orientation too. So we are just shit out of luck if we try to recruit from the skinheads. Good to know.
The real goals of feminism are often buried beneath a cartload of falsehoods perpetuated by misogynists that insist we are trying to destroy and enslave men. That is a flat out lie. I’ve been to the meetings and have yet to hear, “Next up on the agenda is a talk about our master plan to annihilate males and force them into subservience, possibly after serving their souls as h’ordeuvres.”
Feminism is anti-patriarchal, which means that we don’t think that legal and cultural constructions of gender should be able to control, define, or subjugate women … but that is not anti-man. For one thing, most men are not sexist pricks, and we don’t want you to confuse them with the patriarchal oppression we are fighting, thank you very much.
If you look hard enough, you can probably find one of the near-mythical “man-hating” feminists. But this individual, if you actually find one, does not represent the feminist movement. This conflation between a tiny number of members and a whole group is just flat out wrong. For example, the handful of psychos at Westboro Baptist church don’t represent Christianity and it is disingenuous to imply that they do.
As for the accusation that we are socialist … well, it’s probably because of feminist concerns about the “feminization of poverty”. It turns out that, even though the disparity between those that have and those that have-not is shafting men who are on the lower socio-economic scale, it is managing to screw poor women over harder. Go figure. This is especially true of female-headed households. The myth of the welfare queen has created the conceptualization of poor, single mothers as lazy sluts who reproduce like bunnies and siphon money off the hard-working middle class. Which is a load of crap, and usually has racist undertones.
[You know, if our country really respected the work of mothers, the nitty-gritty reality of the effort that goes into raising our children, a welfare mother’s ‘work’ would be valuable … because she was providing care for a dependant US citizen. Additionally, if our culture really valued children, wouldn’t child care providers get better pay? The vast majority of working parents cannot afford to compensate child care workers fairly for their labor. But God forbid the government subsidize the care of children. They aren’t as important as other subsidized things … like tobacco or the corn needed to make high fructose corn syrup cheaply. But I digress. And rant.]
Moreover, feminists cannot be lumped into one political category, such as socialism. Not all feminists agree on the same governmental policies. To tell the truth, you would have a hard time getting three of us to agree on pizza toppings. But I am sure at least some feminists (me included) would like safety-net for the most vulnerable of our citizens, male and female. Many of us are just silly that way. Considering corporate welfare and that the top 20% of Americans own more than 80% of the wealth, leaving less than 15% for everyone else in the USA … I really think this country should do something to take care of those on the very lowest rung of the economic ladder.
Off topic a bit but … when did Americans get so hard-hearted toward the poor? WTF happened to “so far as you rendered such services to one of the humblest of these my brethren, you rendered them to myself.” … did someone take that out of the Bible when I wasn’t looking?
Now, to deal with the accusation of being anti-family. Clearly, the critics do not consider low-income single mothers or working mothers as ‘family’, because it is the stay-at-home moms who are the crux of their rants. The argument that feminists hate stay-at-home moms is frequently bolstered by misquoting Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique. They crop her sentences and take her book out of historical context. Back in the day women were not, as a group, given opportunities to do anything but become wives and mothers. Their job as family caretakers was given lip service by our culture, yet they were typically being treated as stupid, hysterical, frivolous, second-class citizens. Women couldn’t even do things like open a checking account without their husband’s permission. They were given Valium like tic-tacs to keep them docile and ‘happy’. Feminists didn’t see much feminine empowerment in being treated like chattel, so they weren’t thrilled with the marriage/housewife/mother thing. I wouldn’t be either in that situation. However, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom and my husband respects my work as valuable. Feminists were never anti-family; we were anti-women-being-treated-like-idiot-drudges-who-were-biologically-predestined-to-breed-and-cook.
Feminism does not urge women to leave their husbands. I’ve been a feminist for a while now and never once has anyone even hinted that I leave my husband. Now, if he was a knuckle-dragging sexist pig who devalued me and/or hit me or was abusive in any way – then oh hell yeah. Feminists would have helped me pack my bags. Hell, my mother is an old-skool anti-feminist and she would have helped me pack my bags and would have knee-capped him into the bargain. But the fact feminists encourage women to flee unhappy or abusive relationships doesn’t mean feminists goad women to leave their husbands in general … just to leave the bad ones. See the difference?
I can only assume saying that feminists pressure women to ‘kill their children’ is a crack at abortion rights. But to be clear, I have three daughters and I have never, ever had any feminist entreat me to kill them. Which is good because I love my daughters more than I love anything on the planet, and I am definitely the type to cut a bitch. However, it turns out that feminists love their kids too! Who knew? Nor did my fellow feminists recommend that I abort any of my pregnancies. It was my body, and the decision to conceive and carry my babies to term was mine. (Well, Sweet Babou was in on it as well.) Any argument that feminism is causing or promoting abortions in general … that’s just garbage. It turns out that abortion had existed before feminists wanted it made safe for women who chose to terminate their pregnancies.
You know, the fetus is more endangered by men as a group than feminists, since it turns out that about 20% of all women who die during or just after pregnancy are murdered, usually by the father of their baby. I assure you, feminists do not go around killing expectant and/or new mothers. I checked the by-laws carefully and we are totally against that.
Moreover, feminists did not implore me to leave the Episcopal church and practice witchcraft. Pat Robertson was probably squalling about Margot Adler, who is both a famous feminist and a Wiccan high priestess. It’s true that some feminists are neo-pagans or Wiccans, but some feminists are also Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Muslim or atheist or agnostic. We are a diverse group. Feminism does not advocate a religious view for it’s adherents. You get to pick your own! We will just argue that women should be allowed to have a role in that religion comparable to male roles. We always argue that. There could be a religion devoted to shooting bunnies and we’d gripe for the right of all church members to be ordained to shoot bunnies. It’s kind of our thing.
It is true that Marxist feminists, and many radical feminists, think that capitalism is the root to female oppression and want to exchange it for another economic system. But people who are NOT feminists have problems with capitalism too. Furthermore, there are apparently a lot of different types of capitalism, and there are people who support or disagree with the various kinds, so feminists arguing about the pros or cons of capitalism isn’t unique. Sadly, many people think that democracy and capitalism and America are all pretty much the same thing. They aren’t. But this confusion helps people like Robertson paint feminists as anti-American. That is such malarkey. No matter what feminist groups think about capitalism, we are pro-equality, not anti-freedom or anti-USA.
The final accusation is that feminists compel women to become lesbians. WTF? How do we do that exactly? Show new recruits pictures of vaginas until they bend to the will of the feminist movement and start quoting Sappho? “Look new recruits! Some Vajayjay! Are you feeling lesbian yet?” People, I am not even bisexual and they still let me be a feminist. Although their agenda might be working, since my husband, who is also a feminist, loves vagina. Oh my God! They are turning men into lesbians! It is clearly all part of the plot to overthrow and dominate men!
Hmmm. My husband seems so happy when I wear leather boots and carry a riding crop. It must be working.
So why do anti-feminist lie so blatantly? They do it to discourage women from becoming, or even admitting, they are feminist. After all, feminists don’t practice mind-control or hypnotism, nor do they storm into homes and brainwash girls and women into becoming feminists, so women must become feminists of their own free will. To prevent this from happening the anti-feminists use rhetoric to create a false dilemma: You can EITHER become a feminist, OR you can get married and/or have a family. The also use the straw man technique; by wildly overstating and misrepresenting feminism they can knock it down fairly easily. After all, no one is going to able to argue that man-hating is a reasonable or good cause. No one wants to be a Feminazi. Only nasty, vile vermin want to be associated with anything “nazi”. Women who would be interested in a group fighting for equal rights aren’t going to be interested in joining a man-hating cult.
Then there is the word bitch. Women will bend over backward and humiliate themselves in the vain hope that they won’t be called a bitch. Sadly, there is nothing a woman can do to prevent being called a bitch. Sure, making even a polite and reasonable stand for her human rights will get her called a bitch, but it is also used frequently against any woman who has ever taken a breath. I say we take it back and own it. Drag-Queen style, bitches.
As a final note on this topic – why are anti-feminists so against feminism??? Is it women that they think should not have equal rights? People of Color? GLBT people? Why is a woman making the same salary as a man such a threat? Why is concern over domestic violence *bad*? Do they really want rapes to go unpunished? Seriously?
My mom doesn’t want any of that, but she is anti-feminist.
I admit, I cannot figure it out.