[Revisions have been made since the original post, as some have pointed out my passion about this issue took forms that could be misconstrued to draw away from my actual point. Additionally, a longer response to the author of the original post (in response to her comment) is underway and will appear in the comments. As I have said before, one of the reasons I have enjoyed blogging is the opportunity to engage in conversations with others, and I appreciate her taking the time to read and respond!]
As is often the case, when I start to think about a subject I begin to see it everywhere. I began to think about Feminism, and why I now will claim the word for myself, as a movement for equality and justice, for all, and suddenly I can’t help but stumble upon things that get me riled up a bit.
I read a post (a guest post on that particular page — to clarify. The article was written by Holistic Wayfarer, a lovely individual that I just happen to disagree with on some matters) that got the wheels turning and helped nudge me in writing my original feminism post.
My reading of the article is that it claims to tell women that they need to make their partner/potential partner (assuming a heterosexual relationship) feel “more like a man.” Regardless of what the author of the post intended to be the “take away,” this is what I understood from what I read: as a (heterosexual) woman I am supposed to be more docile in the beginning of the relationship, I need to let men chase and pursue me. Rather than standing my ground, stating what I feel, and pursuing a relationship if it interests me, I am supposed to be passive and coy, play games in the relationship (like pretending to not be free for a date when I actually am). If the guy isn’t making the first moves, then it clearly means he is not — and will never be — interested in me. This not only challenges me as a woman, but also makes me feel bad for all the shy boys who aren’t sure how to approach a woman they like.
From skimming through some of the comments, I am also led to believe that my current relationship status is of importance in my ability to argue against this thesis. Whether or not I am in a happily committed relationship, apparently, depends on if I was too dominant in my relationships.
First of all: Why does my relationship status matter? I am very good friends with most of my exes, and a large part of the reason behind this being possible is because these relationships were partnership, we held equal investments. We were friends, first and foremost. My current relationship status is irrelevant to my ability to hold an opinion that I don’t need to play the part of a quiet .
Second of all: I feel like I want to share the fact that the one time I was in anything resembling a relationship where I was “being chased,” where I was not vocalizing my opinions from the get-go the relationship (if it can even be called that, I tend not to count it and it lasted a very short time when looked at in comparison to my other relationships) was one of imbalanced power, based on manipulation, and subtle abuse. One of the reasons that I think it ended? I began to heartily voice my opinion on things, taking more control of my own choices. So, yes, I suppose you could argue that relationship did end because I was being more “bossy” and not letting him “feel like a man.” Thank goodness for that.
The focus in relationship advice should be on equality, working together in relationship, give-and-take and, because I can’t say it enough, equality. Not perpetuating this idea that somehow a certain coy behavior will lead to “getting a man” (and life happiness).
The concept that somehow it is more in men’s nature to lead, and woman’s to follow just frightens me. It is not true.
Yeah, let me repeat that. NOT TRUE.
Each and every one of us has our own personality, and yes, there are men who want to lead more, who want to pursue, and there are woman who want someone else to take the lead, to be chased — but there are also men who want to be chased, and women who want to do the chasing (and everything in-between). We are all individuals. The genitals we are born with do not determine our character. The gender(s) we identify with does not define what we like and don’t like, or how we interact with the world.
What I read in this article seemed like instructions to hand over your power to someone else. It plays into an idea that biologically there is something “manly” about being in charge, and “womanly” about letting others take control. I see news article, after news article about domestic violence, about murder-suicides, about attacks on women, and my mind flashes to the fact that somewhere along the line men have been taught these ideas of what is “manly,” have been given this power, and women have had their own power taken away and undermined. In some cases this contributes to dangerous and deadly situations.
Please be aware that I’m not saying that all relationships where the man is more dominant are abusive. I am simply saying that a piece of what often does contribute to abuse situations, and to people remaining within these situations, is a power imbalance and an idea that it is “manly” to behave in a certain way can contribute to this. The issue of domestic violence and abuse is much more complex.
I also want to note that the author of the post I am responding to is a follower (or was at some point) of this blog. This is actually one of the things that I love about the blogging-world I’ve found myself in. I am getting to see different opinions and ideas, and being given the opportunity to respond to them. I can enjoy the writings and reflections of someone even if I do not agree with all their views. It is important for us to remember this in all of our interactions.
And I almost didn’t post this response, because of a fear that I would insult someone — but I feel strongly that I need to say this. Because I read articles like the post on making men “feel like men,” (and I have seen plenty of the sort) and I can’t help thinking about what would have happened if I had been raised to think that was the way it was supposed to be? What if I thought I was only going to find happiness in a relationship if I stifled my natural self in order to let a man feel like he was the one in charge?
Trying to play the part of a woman who needs to follow chips away at me, slowly breaking down who I am and turning me into a miserable and hollow shell of a person. I think about how sad it would be if those strong-willed girls I known hit their teen years and suddenly believed that if they did not learn to reign in their out-going nature, or willingness to be the one to take the first steps in something, they will never find a happy relationship.
I hate the idea of anyone feeling that is what they are supposed to do, that their natural tendency to be more outgoing (for instance) is somehow wrong.
Let me just leave this here… a great little bit of feminist talk from Sir Patrick Stewart: