The other day I had a heavy conversation with my 17 year old. I happen to call myself a feminist, and he happens to ‘hate feminism’. I wonder how come that he, of all young men, hates feminism when he was raised by a feminist. – Well, of course I do not REALLY wonder. We all wanted to distinguish ourselves from our parents, didn’t we?
What’s more interesting is his argument and what it did to me re-considering my values. The kid grew up in a time and place where women are in general equal – with all pro’s, con’s and flaws. On the contrary, research indicates, that e.g. in schools we have reached a point where it’s the boys who fall behind due to girl oriented schooling. He therefore has a completely different range of experiences with gender inequality than I have.
We talked about why I am into feminism – all humans are born equal – and he said: Yeah, but then what you’re talking about is not feminism, it’s egalitarianism, and I share this value. We agreed on that although I feel like his approach to feminism is flawed. But what can you do about it? It’s flawed for many people who do not want to digg into the various theories of feminism. As with every theory, there is more than one idea of what feminism is and I understand that most people are not attracted to mainstream feminism based on victimisation of females, devaluing men and so called ‘positive’ discrimination.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1
I love this quote. Of all writings, this is my favourite sentence. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. What a promise!
What people tend to forget is that those rights are not universal. They are a social convention and as such a matter of change, different interpretations, and even resistance. My approach to rights has always been that rights are not just there, and they are not granted, they must be taken. And in a society they are more often than not subject to negotiation.
Of course I am aware that I live in relative equality. At least when it comes to judicial rights. There are groups which suffer a lot more discrimination than women in general, e.g. the disabled, refugees, mothers (oh, women again), the elderly, people of colour, the poor etc. But guess what? I am white as white can be, I am well educated, I am fairly healthy and I managed to escape the ‘poor’-trap single motherhood is for many. What negatively affects me is gender stereotyping and sexual harrassment.
I totally agree with Theresa Bäuerlein and Friederike Knüpling who write in their wonderful recap of the current state of feminism, ‘Tussikratie‘, that the relevant gap in our societies is no longer between men and women, but between the rich and the poor. Structurally, however, being a woman raises your risk of being poor, too. It’s women who earn less over their lifetime (let’s ignore the reasons here). It’s mostly women who face old-age poverty. It’s women who bear the highest statistical risk for poverty in my home country, namenly when they become single mothers. It’s women who face the toughest discrimination on the job market, namely when they are married mothers. I am not saying men have no problems. Nor am I saying women’s problems are not going hand in hand with men’s issues. They are. I am saying, I am not a man. I am a woman, and I think I should adress issues which affect me.
Therefore, my beloved son: Yes, I share your value of egalitarianism. But my way of living it is to encourage women to use their power.
Because women who take over responsibility for their lifes and decisions free men from the responsibility of caring for them. And that is equal dignity: Shared responsibility.
I strive to establish balance of power. That’s the core of all my activities. Oh gosh, I am into tears. It feels good!
I strive to establish balance of power.
I do so in my job by educating students about the economy and management and I am considering sharing that knowledge with a greater audience through my professional blog (I am indecisive on that one because I feel that’s not my passion although I like my job and my topics). I do so in my hobby by performing as a political comedienne. And I think the passion I’m going to choose to Live my Legend will evolve around empowering women. I have been pondering about an idea for ages now. Maybe it’s time to bring it to light?
Love to all of you