When I was 20 years old I was critical of my future sister and brother-in-law for insisting that their 10-year-old boy wash the dishes. I referred to it as “woman’s work”. I was product of my parental and cultural programing. The only time my father went in the kitchen was to get ice cream at 3 am. Traditional roles were the norm in my household. When married, I pitched in to “help” my wife with the dishes. At 36, I was single and washed my own dishes for next 20 years.
Now, thank goodness, household chores and roles are negotiated based on interests and considerations other than gender, and this is as it should be. Looking back, it just seems ridiculous that it was otherwise.
When I entered the workforce in the 60’s, women’s career options were limited. Now woman can do any job men can do including fighter pilot, astronaut, and CEO. And there is absolutely no reason they should be paid less for the same work. Most major corporations get it. They pay woman graduate electrical engineers the same as men. And yet there is still a huge gender gap in pay. There should not be a gap, period.
In 1972, The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed as a way to give women equal legal status to men. “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It was passed by Congress but fell three states short of the 38 needed for ratification by a June 30, 1982 deadline. There was a belief that the ERA would eliminate laws designed to protect women which led to the eventual defeat of the amendment. I wish it would have passed. We would be further along than we are now.
While my family had traditional roles, my father modeled total respect for woman. My mother was a strong woman and would not have married him if he hadn’t. Over the years, I have been astonished at some men’s attitude toward woman. An example is the weird belief that sex is transactional and that if a woman is treated to dinner, the man is entitled to sex. I found statements like that just foreign and the majority of my male friends do as well. And, there are men who are misogynists.
I was curious about what Wikipedia say about misogyny which means the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. By count, check how many of these were on display during the Kavanaugh Senate hearings.
My wife has taught me about the patriarchy, i.e. the Catholic Church, our political culture, and our corporate culture. Having worked for a female entrepreneur CEO who was very successful, I have never had an issue with women in power. I am convinced that when woman gain equal power, the world will be a better place.
So, I am a feminist. Woman should be equal in all matters. And I hope my three granddaughters will see that as a reality.
Are you a feminist?