I’m a wife, mother, sister, daughter, business owner, sports nut and beer lover, but I am not a feminist. I may have been at one time, but then I became the mother of two boys and I realized that I cannot align with a message that has changed into something degrading, offensive, accusatory and opposed to the morals and messages I am teaching my kids.
You see, I’m kind of psyched to be raising my boys as gentlemen. I am proud to raise them to be hard-working and dedicated providers. I am raising them to treat the women in their lives like princesses, and to make eye contact with, and say hello to, everyone they meet. I am raising them to appreciate the beauty in a person based on what that person believes and how that person makes my boys feel, not on what that person is wearing or how much of their skin is exposed.
I want my boys to be chivalrous, to open doors and carry heavy loads, to ask a girl out on a date and pay the bill without expecting anything in return. I am encouraging my sons to tell girls when they think those girls look beautiful. I love that my boys want to surprise me (and eventually their partners) with gifts, and the spontaneous hug or peck on the cheek from time to time to show their love.
But, the latest campaigns by the feminist movement are telling boys they are wrong if they do these things, or anything else that would make a girl feel stereotypically “girly,” or my sons to act stereotypically “gentleman-like.” The FCKH8 Campaign would have girls tell my sons to “fuck off” if they called them pretty or reached for their hand without permission.
Hollaback! sends the message that if my sons make eye contact with, or say “hello” to, a woman they don’t know, they are a predator, or at the very least, a “creepy douchebag.” #YesAllWomen wants my boys to know that the fact they have a penis makes them a threat. They cite the statistic that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted, but seem to ignore that they are sending the message to little girls to assume 100% of all men are rapists.
#FreeTheNipples preaches to end “slut shaming,” yet what they are really doing is flipping the shame of “sluttiness” from the girls who expose their breasts (and bellies and butt cheeks) to the boys who look at them. TakePart.com supports teen girls spin doctoring age-old terms like “boys will be boys,” which is more about farting, burping, and falling out of trees than it is sexual harassment. They make claims like “dress codes are the result of boys not being able to control their sexual urges,” but how about encouraging all students to simply dress with decency in a public institution designed for education and growth, instead of focusing on elevating social status and hooking up?
Teaching my boys that they are somehow wrong, perverted or bad if they look at what is being flaunted in front of them is also making the job of parents a thousand times harder to have that conversation about steering clear of “easy” girls. And, let’s not assume for one second that there aren’t plenty of them.
When the term feminism turned from being a message of empowerment and gender fairness to basically a list of rules, restrictions, idiosyncrasies, offenses and grievances directed at all things male, I tapped out. I do not believe that opposite sexes can ever be completely equal, as there are very specific limitations for each gender.
I also believe that there is nothing wrong with many of the gender roles that have been honored throughout history. I want my sons to love unconditionally and I want their partners to do the same. I want my sons to choose a partner who honors their manliness, strength, valor, chivalry and masculinity, and I am raising them to honor the qualities and virtues in their partner as well, even if those qualities include being maternal, ladylike, demure, and feminine. I don’t want my sons to ever have to submit to the anger of a woman who believes she is justified in treating him with disrespect based on the feminist movement.
I support fairness for everyone, but as long as being feminist means suppressing masculinity, it cannot possibly be called a “quest for equality.” Respect is earned, not demanded. There will never be a time when I will tell my boys not to treasure, protect and admire the women in their lives because “Women don’t need a man to feel valued.” I say, “Value all people and the gifts they bring.” Only then will the world be truly fair and equal.