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Emotional labor is unseen. It’s the energy women spend managing other’s feelings and emotions, making people comfortable, or living up to society’s expectations… the barrage of expectations we feel from the time we’re told to be nice and polite while boys are told not to cry. It’s a thing. It’s also a weight carried by some femmes and some men, especially if they’re the main caregiver in the family.

But this is not about that kind of emotional labor.

When I read Cara Delevigne’s account of her harassment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, I felt every word. When I heard the recording of Ambra Battilana Gutierrez pleading with Harvey Weinstein to let her leave, I felt it in my bones.

In the words these women bravely shared with us, I heard everything they felt. The fear. The confusion. The disbelief. The shame. All of those feelings are a cocktail women are forced to swallow- all while reacting, deflecting, minimizing, and smiling because maybe you misunderstood his intentions, and fighting or plotting escape.

Most of us have sipped this putrid cocktail. Many of us have had it forced down our throats more times than we can even remember. My first time? I was three years old. My “Harvey Weinstein” was a sick young man of 18 who likely had his own trauma story. My young brain went into survival mode and I lived with it like an ugly stain I chose not to look at.

What I experienced at three years old was traumatic. The things I experienced as a teen and a young woman weren’t traumatic. They were your average, run of the mill, everyday sexist things. Some small, some not so small. Awkward moments of being treated like an object but not understanding what was happening. Infuriating infractions against my autonomy. Most of them weren’t scary, but they were all tinged with fear. And they are nearly universal experiences that girls and women go through. Average. Run of the mill. Because that’s how insidious this problem is. We’re used to it. Except, we’re really not and we really never will be.

Grabbing our body. Cornering us in a room or office or hallway. Making suggestive comments. Scanning our bodies while grinning sadistically. The kisses forced on us while we push away and clench our lips, our teeth ready to bite. The demeaning remarks. Belittling our intellect or experience or our right to be in the room. Talking to us like we’re children when we had to grow up at the age of 3 or 8 or 16… the assumption that we don’t know things when our knowledge of things unspoken would make your blood run cold. And still having to coddle your knowledge because we need our job, or our kid needs to play on your team, or we need our car fixed, or insert any fucking reason because I’m tired.

All of this is emotional labor. It’s the adding up of little things and placing them on the spectrum of bullshit that women go through at the hands of sick or entitled or clueless men. It’s reliving our experiences when a friend confides hers. Or when a plot line in a movie goes there. It’s watching the debate and feeling our body grow hot because we know what it’s like to have a man try to intimidate you by standing too close. It’s watching Billy Bush play wingman and fuming because we’ve seen that bro code play out like a bad movie on repeat.

It’s getting threats online. And every woman you know who blogs or is involved in activism online also gets threats. It’s the fact that your friends have a detailed protocol they follow when harassment and threats become serious, and they’ll share it with you like it’s their grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe.

It’s remembering that back in 2014 you read about journalist Amanda Hess and her online stalker. About how she had to carry her case files with her when she travelled because his threats followed her to every town she visited and she needed to be able to alert local police and show them proof BECAUSE OF COURSE SHE HAD TO SHOW THEM PROOF. And three years later not a damn thing’s changed because Twitter and Facebook are cool with rape and death threats. It’s realizing that all of this means that women are expendable and even well known and respected journalists get shrugs of indifference. All of this makes us feel some kind of way… Tired. Angry. Frustrated. Fed up.

It’s the emotional labor of feeling all these things every single time we watch a man help himself to one of us. The sisterhood of We’ve Had Enough Of This Shit.

It’s the drip drip of everyday sexism that is more on time than the trains and more relentless than Harvey Weinstein in a bath robe.

There’s nothing more paradoxically mundane and infuriating than someone who thinks he’s clever saying and doing the same thing you’ve been hearing since you were 3 or 8 or 16.

And it’s the guilt. The guilt for being there. For laughing. For not leaving sooner. For not fighting hard enough. For not actually biting his lip even though we were this close. And the guilt we find ourselves accepting from the men who take from us. Don’t embarrass me. C’mon, I’ve been so nice to you. Guilt because we’re conditioned to carry emotional labor for others and our inclination to people please supersedes our safety for a few minutes, and then more guilt because we know it’s sick to feel guilty for hurting our abuser’s feelings.

It’s when badass women write about their harassment, their abuse, their rape. The healing and strength you get from reading it. And knowing that every time they write about it there’s a sub-reddit forming around their words to discredit and threaten them. That her unburdening and words of healing will likely just heap more abuse on her own plate.

It’s the exhaustion of not being believed. Of knowing that even the good guys may not believe our experiences until it’s corroborated by at least a dozen other women. Or until Hannibal Buress includes it in his stand up act.

It’s the time we have to spend assuring men that we know they’re not all like this. Again. And feeling equal parts sad and angry that it will take a whole chorus of us to explain it because one woman’s words have never been enough and in these moments his feelings are more important than the shit we’ve lived with and the shit we’re still reeling from. We have to press pause to explain that we know it’s not all men. We have to hold off on what we’re trying to say about abuse and assault and sexism -that’s pretty fucking important by the way- to massage a man’s feelings. Again.

It’s the fact that when the Weinsteins of the world are exposed, we still have to moderate our tone and keep our emotions in check or we’ll be labelled with the female malady of hysteria.

It’s the deafening silence of every man who doesn’t call out another guy for the rape joke, or the office banter about the new girl, or the locker room talk. Because every time you laughed or didn’t call him out or didn’t step in to intervene you became an enabler. Your silence makes you complicit. Do better.

It’s seeing that things don’t change. That these stories echo the stories of your mom getting chased around her desk in 1977. And she couldn’t quit her job because the fridge was already empty and it wasn’t pay day yet so she would survive on cigarettes and adrenaline so you and your sister could eat. It’s seeing that in 40 years the only thing that’s changed is HR has to pretend to care.

It’s the relentless onslaught of dudes who feel compelled to comment on each story of abuse and trauma in unhelpful ways. Who love to muse that women should have spoken up sooner, or women should have prevented it, or women shouldn’t be victims. Who can’t seem to understand that their job is to Listen. Stay silent. Or go after the predators. And with every chin scratch and psuedo-intellectual analysis they are kicking dirt in the face of every woman who has been dealing with this shit since they were 3 or 8 or 16.

Some of the things that happen to us are inconveniences. But because they are so tied up in the big things and sometimes they are hints of the traumas we’ve collected, they register. Because they all live on the same spectrum of abusive behavior they aren’t easily dismissed. What your bro sees as a joke, is our memory of what we’ve experienced or what our friends have whispered to us. Our lives and the onslaught of bullshit we put up with is your punchline. Even the small things take up time and energy. They make us pause and assess. They make us document or take screenshots or vent in private conversations with our girl friends so we can not snap at the next man that crosses our path because we’re tired.

I’m tired of laboring under all of this.

I’m tired of watching women go through it over and over again. I’m tired of the memories that flood my mind every time a story breaks and the visceral reaction when I see men dismiss women’s experiences. I’m tired of trudging through this virulent sludge on the regular, while men act shocked every time they see a woman with dirty shoes.

This is the emotional labor that sticks to me and buries itself into my psyche. The labor that feels like it’s siphoned off by men like Cosby and Ailes and OReilly and Weiner and  Weinstein and names you’ve never heard of because this isn’t just a sickness of the rich and famous. This is a sickness of a culture that sees women as commodities. That sees us as punchlines. As unreliable witnesses to our own experiences. It’s the emotional toll of watching men shake their heads but say nothing. It’s the emotional work we have to do to not be bitter or angry or hardened. It’s the multitude of ways we are co-opted  by the society that encourages it, enables it and even glorifies it.

Men, if you’ve been wondering why we’re in your face about it, why we have no more tolerance for dismissals and deflections, no more sympathy for your shock or surprise, why we won’t soothe your dismay or feed your ego when our bodies have been slandered, this is why.

Because we’re tired.

Signed,

The Sisterhood Of We’re Tired Of This Shit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Mr. Trump… can I call you Mr. Trump? Is that ok? I want you to be happy, that’s very important to me.

Before I get started, let me say this letter isn’t from all women. The Trumpettes surely won’t approve of this message. But this is from most women.

We see right through you. We have all known you at some point. Your ways are not unfamiliar to us. We see through you because we’ve been dealing with you our whole lives.

We heard you call women pigs. And disgusting. And stupid. And bimbos.

We watched as you called a former Ms. Universe “Ms. Piggy” and then spent four days continuing to insult her.

We see your weakness. Your lust for attention at any cost, your need to denigrate women. We see all of it. And we’re mad.

Yes. We’re mad. And fired up. And here’s the thing about us… we can be bitches.

Gone are the days where we question our power or our influence. We are strong. Smart. We know our worth and it doesn’t reside in the size of our bras or our skinny jeans. We build each other up. We have our sister’s backs. And our brother’s. So when you took on the former Ms. Universe, you took on all of us.

And right now you’ve got a lot of angry women to contend with. And let me remind you, Mr. Trump… hell hath no fury like a pissed off woman who’s tired of this sexist bullshit.

We heard you when you said we should  “look for another place to work” if we experience workplace sexual harassment. Your non-solution illustrates either your lack of understanding or lack of concern. Or both. Your attitude and ignorance on this is stunning. Your response, pathetic. We see you, and we see someone who’s in over their head.

We watched you interrupt a woman 51 times during a 90 minute debate. While the better qualified, more knowledgeable woman was talking, you attempted to bulldoze right over her. We all know this game. It’s called male privilege. And it doesn’t look good on you, Mr. Trump. It makes you look weak. We see you, and we see a man who is so threatened by a woman speaking that you can’t even bear to let her finish. Sad.

And we see it rampant throughout your campaign and your proposed policies. It’s in your paltry maternity leave proposal that leaves out fathers and LGBTQ and adoptive parents. And when you say that women who seek abortions should be punished. And when you refuse to consider supporting equal pay for women.

Your latest ad, in which your daughter, beaming with privilege and pride, says “being a mother is the most important job a woman can have.” didn’t go over so well with us, Mr. Trump.

We are different, us women. We are not a homogenous army of fem-bots. We have different interests, goals and lives. There is more to us than motherhood. Some of us revel in motherhood. Some of us don’t want to have children. And some of us can’t have children. Our status as mothers has nothing to do with our worth. This ad, coupled with your policies show that you are tone deaf to the reality that women face and point to an antiquated attitude. One that keeps women as the caregivers and leaves men out of that equation.

We see you. And we see a man who has no business representing our interests in the Oval Office.

We heard you say no one would vote for Carly Fiorina “because of her face.”

We remember you calling women “a beautiful piece of ass” in Esquire Magazine.

We watch you say one thing, then say the opposite. Then refuse to admit any of it happened. Problem is, we can spot gas lighting from a mile away.

We recall the bit about all women being gold diggers in your memoir.

We cringe and hold our daughters a little closer when we are reminded that you said you’d date your daughter. If only she weren’t your daughter.

We remember when you called a lawyer “disgusting” for requesting a break during a trial to breastfeed.

We roll our eyes when we saw you try to dismiss Megyn Kelly after she had the nerve to ask you questions. At a debate. “Blood coming out of her wherever” was not lost on us. Most of us remember hearing such comments in Middle School.

We are horrified when we learn that you sent a journalist a picture of herself with the word “Dog” scrawled across it.

We seethe with anger when we read your tweet blaming military sexual assault on the fact that women are in the military.

We haven’t forgotten your lurid tweet about Hillary Clinton not being able to “satisfy” her husband.

Not only do you not understand women, you seem to have an awful lot of contempt for them. This is not fitting for a man who wants to be President in the 21st Century.

Which leads me to this:

Make America Great Again.

We know exactly what you meant when you branded yourself with this slogan. It’s not-so-coded language for a time gone by. Your “great” America wasn’t so great for women and minorities and gay people.

We won’t go back.

We won’t be relegated to the kitchen.

We won’t be locked into a life where we have no choice over our bodies or whether we have babies.

We won’t accept your patronizing response to sexual harassment.

We won’t be silenced or demeaned any more.

We won’t be ridiculed for our weight or judged by our appearance.

We won’t be shamed for owning our sexuality.

We have come a long way since your days of when America was “great.”

We have busted our asses to get here and we’re not going back.

We are raising strong daughters who fight back against sexist school dress codes.

We are raising strong sons who aren’t afraid of their feelings and aren’t afraid of strong girls.

We are shutting down catcalling.

We are no longer letting ourselves be interrupted and drowned out in the board room.

We are locking arms with our sisters in solidarity when rapists are given a slap on the wrist.

We are shouting about every day sexism.

We are calling you out, Mr. Trump.

We will not go quietly into any good night. We are loud. We are in your face. And we don’t put up with the kind of bullshit you’re selling.

So maybe this isn’t your time, Mr. Trump. Maybe your time has passed.

Maybe you would have been more suited to the early 1900’s when women did not yet have the right to vote.

When marital rape was still legal.

Or the 1950’s when women largely stayed home and produced children and McCarthyism and blacklisting were acceptable.

Or perhaps 1930’s Germany would have been a better fit for you.

But now? Now is not your time.

We’re moving forward. All of us, smart men and women, have had enough of the tired gender roles. We’ve had enough of you and other weak, fearful men trying to stop progress.

We see you, Mr. Trump.

We see your sexism and your bigotry and your racism. We see right through you.

Remember. We can be bitches.

And bitches get shit done.

Bitches Vote.

See you on November 8, Mr. Trump.

 

*photo source*

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“Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight.

Carry that weight a long time…”

-The Beatles, Carry That Weight

Boys are getting a bad rap.

They are being reduced to the lowest common denominator.

They are suffering the permissibility of low expectations.

They have no self control. They have violent urges. They have uncontainable sexual tendencies.

Boys will be boys.

What does this oft cited phrase even mean? Does it mean that because they were born with the Y chromosome that they are inherently impulsive and helpless to their own actions? Does it mean that it is natural for them to be more violent, more sexual?

Or is it an excuse trotted out to dismiss unsavory behavior?

Is it an antiquated notion that keeps boys boxed into a hyper-masculine role while putting the burden on girls to keep order and civility intact?

I know a few boys.

I am a sister, a wife, a mother, a daughter. I’ve been blessed with some amazing boys and men in my life. Most of the boys I have known and encountered have been sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful people. Very much in control of their own actions. Yes, I have known some jerks. But they truly are the exception in my life, not the rule.

I love men.

I always have. I grew up having more guy friends than girl friends. I sometimes felt more comfortable and at ease with my guy friends. I love masculine, strong men and I love sensitive, artistic men and I love that these traits aren’t exclusive of each other. I don’t look at men as adversaries. I don’t view them as opposition. I view them as friends, as neighbors, as fellow parents-  as people full of good and sometimes a little bad but mostly just human and trying to do their best.

Let’s stop saying it…

Let’s stop saying “Boys will be boys.” It is said when little boys fight on the play ground. Instead of breaking up the fight and teaching them that there are other ways to problem solve, some people use this phrase as an excuse. Let them get out their anger, let them blow off some steam. It’ll toughen them up. Does this not seem an antiquated notion? Doesn’t it send messages that are hard to undo? Hurt and damage young boys who don’t necessarily enjoy fighting?

Let’s stop using it as an excuse for boys to grope girls. To say demeaning things to girls. Let’s not speak this phrase to imply that boys cannot control their urges around girls. To imply that it’s natural for boys to be misogynistic. It’s not. Misogyny is taught.

Let’s stop saying it when enforcing a dress code that is mostly thrust upon girls. Shorts must be a certain length. Skirts must be a certain length. No spaghetti strap shirts. Why? The reasons I’ve heard all seem to point to a few disturbing notions. Either that little girls will be viewed as too sultry or sexual when wearing shorts or tank tops or that it will put boys in the uncomfortable and impossible position of having to control their sexual urges. They will be too distracted by the show of flesh. So girls are all sultry sirens of the sea luring poor dimwitted boys to jump in the ocean, devoid of any self control?

Let’s stop saying it when men make lewd or inappropriate comments towards women. When men make crude and laviscious cat calls at a woman walking down the street.

And, dear god, let’s stop saying it when a boy sexually assaults a girl.

‘Cause here’s the thing…

Not all boys or men do these things. These are not behaviors inherent in the male species. Not all boys are violent. Not all boys are lustful. Not all boys view girls as objects. Not all boys are distracted by an exposed shoulder or an extra inch of thigh. Not all boys want to demean girls. Not all boys believe that they have rights to a girl’s body and privacy and sense of safety.

I don’t think any boy is born with these tendencies. They will have more testosterone, yes. And surges in testosterone can lead to feelings of anger or sexual urges. (And let’s start admitting that girls have sexual urges too.)  Boys can be taught how to deal with these feelings.  They are beyond animalistic instincts to act without regard to others or themselves. They are more evolved than that. To dismiss bad behavior with “boys will be boys” implies they have no control. It implies that they are subject to their worst impulses.

It is insulting.

The line of thinking that goes along with the “boys will be boys” mentality is an insult to boys. It is just as insulting as assuming that women are uncontrollably emotional and irrational because their bodies produce more estrogen. It only teaches boys that not only is bad behavior ok, it is expected of them. That it is evidence of masculinity. This is ridiculous. You know what’s masculine? Being honest about your feelings, showing emotion. Being respectful of others. Honoring other’s rights and needs. Understanding those around you.

I believe in setting high expectations, not shrugging away boorishness.

I believe that most boys don’t want to have to fight on the playground.

I believe that boys are completely capable of self control.

I believe my son doesn’t need to “prove” his masculinity any more than my daughters need to “prove” their femininity.

I believe that boys are capable of functioning around girls, even scantily clad girls, without succumbing to hormonal fueled hysteria.

I believe that if we stop dismissing behaviors and excusing them and expecting them, that we will raise strong, masculine men who respect themselves. Who respect women. Who want to be productive and not destructive. I believe that we can raise boys who won’t grow up to grope women. To make insulting cat calls. Who won’t say misogynistic things to women, to female senators. Who won’t assume rights or ownership to a woman’s body. I know it’s possible. I know many of these men. Many of whom grew up to be great men in spite of society’s banal accommodation of “boys will be boys.”

So let’s give boys some credit. Let’s assume they are capable of the best. Let’s expect more and in doing so imply that we know that they are more than able to do more. Let’s allow them to be who they are, not what society deems as masculine.

And once and for all, let’s stop saying “Boys will be boys.”

 

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“Me and a gun
and a man
On my back
But I haven’t seen Barbados
So I must get out of this
Yes I wore a slinky red thing
Does that mean I should spread
For you, your friends your father, Mr. Ed”

-Tori Amos, Me and A Gun

My daughter had this funny thing she did when she was a baby. She would do something she knew was “wrong” (throwing her sippy cup to the ground, throwing a toy) and when we would respond with a firm “No, no,” she would cover her eyes. She thought, in her adorable baby brain, that if she covered her eyes and couldn’t see the spilled milk on the floor, then it didn’t exist. My husband and I would laugh every time she did this. We marveled at the simple naiveté of a small child. We thought it was precious.

But you know what’s not precious? When adults do it. When we do it. When society does it. When we do it about something more serious than spilling milk, it’s not cute at all.

I would like you to complete a short, simple mental exercise. Imagine 5 young women or young girls that you know. Picture each of them. Now, with that mental picture in your head, consider that one of those girls will be the victim of rape. Horrifying, right?

It’s horrifying and shameful and appalling…

It’s also reality.

This is a reality in our country. I know that this is not something any of us want to consider. Who wants to look at our young girls and imagine those kind of odds, that kind of future for them? But not thinking about it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sticking our head in the sand doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s also dangerous.

Is this the way we are choosing to operate in our country? Apparently so.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 women will be raped at some time in their lives. An estimated 80% of those rapes occur before the age of 25.

And we call ourselves a civilized society?

We are lying to ourselves. We’re covering our ears and our eyes and pretending like we don’t see what’s happening all around us.

The world in which we live is oozing rape culture like a festering wound.

Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture.  Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.

-Marshall University Women’s Center

There’s no disputing the misogyny present in our music, our television, our movies, our advertisements.

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It’s the accepted degradation of half of our population. Sexualizing women, sexualizing girls. Even taking images of young girls in literature/movies and creating “sexy” halloween costumes. So, now we have women dressing up as “sexy children”???

Violence marketed towards boys/men. The vernacular that plays out on talk radio and from politicians. The demeaning of feminism (“feminazi”- ’nuff said.) Women portrayed as hypersexualized while men stand by and look on in their fancy suits…

I have no problem with women expressing their sexuality. I think we all should embrace that part of ourselves. We should own it, nurture it, love it. We shouldn’t be ashamed of it. But I can’t help but notice the obvious disparities in our media. It is this incongruence that is troubling. And it’s just one small piece of a much larger rancid pie.

We have radio talk show hosts calling women sluts for wanting birth control pills. (Because, you know, women have sex in a vacuum. Men are not even in the equation.) We have politicians talking about ‘legitimate rape” and “forcible rape.” We have girls being raped while drunk at a party in front of a group of boys, boys recording the assault and posting it to social media to further the pain and humiliation of the victim. We have news outlets that do this:

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We have “slut shaming.”

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This week a wealthy DuPont heir was sentenced to probation for raping his 3 year old daughter. The judge said he “wouldn’t fare well in prison”. Last year a 56 year old teacher was sentenced to 30 days for raping a 14 year old girl. The judge said that she was “older than her chronological age” and that she was “as much in control”. The girl committed suicide before the case even went to court. In 2013 an Alabama man was found guilty of rape and sentenced to counseling and probation. For raping his teen neighbor on three separate occasions. These are just a few examples. A quick Google search for short rape sentences turns up a stomach turning number of articles chronicling similar sentencing.

Rape culture exists is alive and well in our courts.

Obviously it’s not just video games and popular music and movies and tv shows that contribute to the rape culture that is permeating our society. We are absorbing this from every place.

We see it every time a politician makes dismissive comments regarding violence against women.

We see it every time there’s another slap on the wrist for rape.

We see it when every time a rape victim’s sobriety, purity and behavior is all called into question.

We see it every time a woman is shamed for being sexual, for embracing her sexuality.

We see it every time a girl is told to cover up at school becuase her legs/shoulders/cleavage are too distracting.

We see it every time a young boy lashes out at his female classmate and we utter the phrase, “boys will be boys.”

We see it every time bros are whining over being “friend-zoned.”

We see it every time a girl’s rape is passed around on social media for entertainment and ridicule.

These things matter.

These things seep into our subconscious. The reinforce an ancient narrative. One of control, of power, of objectification.

Rape culture. It’s not just feminist speak. It’s not just political correctness run amok. Look around you. It’s every where.

We need to recognize it. Get used to calling it out. Get used to talking about it.

We need to stop looking past it, pretending not to notice. We need to take our hands off of our eyes and stare it straight in the face. We need to understand that to ignore it is to ignore a sickness that affects us all. That to ignore it is to ignore the ripped psyche of every  girl or woman who is assaulted, raped or shamed. The longer we deny this exists, the more it will persist.

Ignoring it will only bring us more. More “Not Guilty” verdicts. More short sentences for rape. More victim shaming.

More rape.

America, this is your rape culture.

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Feminism… sigh….  Why has such an important word that signifies so many good and important things become so vilified? You would think that at this point in our country, in our culture, in society as a whole- that this discussion wouldn’t be necessary. But alas, it   is.

It seems like you can’t read the news, surf the net or get on Twitter without someone declaring their opposition to Feminism. I recently read a female blogger’s comments on a post where she stated that she could not sign on to be a “man-hating” feminist. That she would declare herself a “humanist” instead. I figuratively scratched my head and wondered, can’t you be both? Is there an either or? I am a feminist. I love men. Always have. Growing up I had a lot of guy friends. One of my best friends was a guy. I have been lucky enough to date really great guys. I married a man, one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. I had a sensitive, caring, compassionate brother. I have a loving Stepfather. A beautiful son. I think most men are pretty great humans. I would not want to live in a world where men were demonized or demeaned or forsaken. And I am a Feminist. Yes, you can love men, appreciate men and be a feminist.

Guess what? You can also dress however you want. You can own your sexuality and celebrate it, flaunt it, embrace it. You can put on makeup and heels. You can enjoy being feminine. Or not. Either way, none of this precludes you from being a feminist.

You don’t have to spend every waking moment devoting yourself to feminist causes. You don’t have to tattoo it on your forehead. It can be a part of who you are and one facet of your world, it doesn’t have to dominate your life. And you can still be a feminist.

The cause of Feminism has changed and evolved over the decades. It was once a fight for the rights to own property and vote became the fight for fair wages (still an ongoing battle) and the fight against sexual harassment in the workplace. Thanks to the men and women who fought for these causes, we can rest easy on some of these issues. But that doesn’t mean that there is no need for feminism in 2014.

The fight now is about many things. It is easier to promote a cause when it is about a specific, tangible thing. When there is a victory on the far off horizon to be claimed. The goals today may be less quantifiable. My reasons for caring about it and talking about and trying to do something about it are varied.

The commonality of sexual assault and rape in our country and all around the world is appalling. The statistics are staggering. 17.7 million women in the United States have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. (Nat’l. Inst. of Justice and Ctr for Disease Control and Prevention).  One in four women attending college will be the victim of sexual assault or an attempt. This is not the behavior of a civilized world. What are the reasons behind this? What can we do to stop this epidemic? These are the things that I find to be critical issues in the feminist cause.

The fight for women’s rights around the world are important for feminists everywhere. We can’t insulate ourselves and only concern ourselves with what happens in our country. Our world is more intertwined and connected than ever before. I have received comments from women in Pakistan and India on my blog, comments about the limited rights and violence against women in their countries. We can no longer afford to be egocentric and stick our head in the sand when it comes to these issues affecting women and girls all over the world. Child brides are being married off to old men. Young girls are undergoing genital mutilation. Women are being raped as retaliation. There is a long sordid list of injustices happening around the world to women. Our world and these other countries will never be healthy until women are treated as equal.

There’s a thing called Feminist Friday in the blogging world. I first learned about it from a fellow blogger (thank you Gene’O) and since then have connected with other bloggers who care about these issues. Smart people. People with a social conscious and a desire to discuss these things. People who truly want to make things better. They have written some important pieces on this issue. You can read Alva’s Almanac about why Feminist Friday is important to her. Take a look at an important post by Diana at Part Time Monster about teaching our children to have empathy and see the struggles others go through. And check out Gene’O at The Sourcerer. I think it’s vital that men be a part of feminism. I think that men have a place in the discussion and the cause. I absolutely believe that you can be a man and be a feminist.

We will be having a Twitter conversation today about Feminism. About the meaning of the word and the perception of the word. If you would like to join us on Twitter or by commenting on this or any of the above linked posts, please do! On Twitter you can find us by #FeministFriday, or you can find me at @gkelly73.  Happy Feminist Friday everyone!

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