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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feminist State of Mind

Feminism is a state of mind.  It is about freedom, power, and independence.  It doesn’t mean you can’t be girlie, or be cute, or pink, or wear lipstick or heels.  It doesn’t mean you can’t cook, or clean, or iron your husband’s clothes or be a stay at home mom.  It means that you can be what ever you want, so long as you realize that you are in charge of yourself.  Nobody tells you what to do.  No stereotypes.  No orders.  Only free will.  That is feminism, to me.

I embarked on a journey when I decided to write about Alexis Cruz, a fictional character in my upcoming book, not yet titled. This journey, although not yet complete, has gotten me to think a lot about equality and the struggle that women in particular have in our “modern” society.  I find myself now admitting that I most definitely did not have the level of understanding on the topic that I like to think I had.

I have always considered myself a modern guy that looks to reason, science, and philosophy to understand the world around me.  I blame the Aquarius in me for that, as I tend to over analyze things as well.  Still, the relationships that people have, men and women, are both complex and simple.  I have spent a great deal of time studying the character of an individual, and over time, one comes to realize that each person’s individual motivations move them to act and think the way they do.  

It’s such a simple concept, yet we have been over-complicating it and screwing it all up forever.  Sometimes it’s as simple as feeling hungry or tired; or wanting to do the right thing like telling the truth or helping a stranger in need.  Other times it begins with something basic, like viewing another person as an equal, because you know the right thing is not to assume someone is inferior because they are physically weaker, smaller, or of different skin color, or of a different sex.  The instinct for someone to make that initial assumption and then assume mental power over the other is the basis for inequality and the perpetuation of the deepest of character flaws that some of us have.

I mention it because these simple motivations are at the core of the problems -and the solutions- that I see in today’s feminist fight.  When Alexis came to be, my first idea was to model her mind and actions after my own wife’s, who to me, is the most forward thinking and powerful woman that I have ever known.  She was a perfect foundation for me; but as I delved deeper into Alexis’ character and what motivated her, I found myself becoming more and more confused about her and what decisions she would make.  I thought for a time, that I was not enough of a feminist to write such a powerful character.  She in fact, was becoming more than I could handle. 

I laugh now, because the idea seems ridiculous.  She was not overwhelming me, per se, but she had become so complex that the clear lines of definitive feminism didn’t work for me.  Feminism was not a clear definition, I came to realize.  It was not what the media would have me believe. It was not just a strong woman working in a man’s corporate world.  It was not a woman unafraid to speak her mind.  It was not an uber-liberal progressive that went to college and executed cutting-edge journalism to an audience of millions.  I should say, it was not just that.  It was those things and more.  Feminism was also mothers, teachers, stay at home moms, students, farmers, artists, singers and dancers and much, much more.

It was when I realized this that I also realized that feminism is deep at the core of our character and beliefs.  Feminism is equality, at its core.  It doesn’t even matter if I am a man or a woman, because if at my core I believe that women are equal, then equality has been achieved and the ideal of feminism no longer needs to exist.  Since our core belief system is what motivates us to act and think, in terms of equality, how can value and morality have a gender? A man can be weak, as can a woman.  A man can be shrewd, aggressive, and arrogant, as can a woman.  None of these traits have anything to do with the position a man holds in life, whether it be a farmer, lawyer, politician, or laid-off construction worker.  Same goes for a woman, regardless of her working role in society. 

This is all most definitely a change from how I viewed the topic many moons ago.  I see it as an issue still for women.  There are a lot of women out there trying to get out of this game of cutting each other down. At the core of the weaker person’s character is jealousy, shallowness, materialism and image.  The competition of it all makes people want to continuously outdo each other in order to “win” something that doesn’t exist.  The typical outcome is that women cut each other down.  It is sad to see, because it is often times over a man, which is the ultimate slap in the face to the feminists. There is no power in the weakness of lying and backstabbing because it will always come back to you.  Victims will never forget.  And it is weak because it means that you don’t have the courage to admit that you are ruthless or that you have made a mistake.  It’s a negative and ugly game, and if the energy spent on it were instead focused on making yourself a better person, you’d get real power.

It is power over self that defines feminism.  A strong man that works a career and focuses on making himself a better person has a lot of power.  So does a woman. Be independent.  Be free to follow your dreams and do something great, whether that is to run a marathon, climb a mountain, lose weight, raise great kids, earn a degree, or rise to the top of a fortune 500 company.  All of those things represent feminism, or masculinism (like that one?), if they are for you and by you.  Do it all for yourself, not for any one else.  Do it all with dignity and without cheating, and you will find power and independence. That is feminism.  That is masculinism.  Now get out there and kick some ass!

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