Amanda wants to know five ways feminism has changed your life (for the better – as much as I’m tempted to snark, “I have to compete against twice as many people for jobs,” it’s not appropriate here). So do I, actually, so please tell me, if you can be bothered to complete this meme.
1. I have access to better technological, medical, and scientific progress. Arbitrary restrictions on who can or cannot get an advanced degree, publish new discoveries, or market inventions stifle progress; removing the one on women is doubling the talent pool of people who can cure diseases, discover new technology, and so on. Rewarding merit over privilege is good for everyone.
2. I don’t have to conform to homosocial expectations. Except for a period between third and eighth grade, I’ve been decidedly heterosocial, having more female friends than male friends (even my blogroll is two-thirds female). I was derided for it a little bit early on, but it was nothing compared to what I’d have experienced if I’d been born in 1938.
3. If my sexual interests veer enough from the norm, I will be castigated as a deviant; but again, it’s nothing compared to what I’d have suffered before second-wave feminism kicked in full gear. I’m not just talking about homosexuality – I’m talking about by and large everything except missionary-position vaginal penetration with no birth control.
4. I don’t have to engage in violence, join the military, or undergo initiation rites to prove my manhood, without which I’d be as socially accepted as a slave. It’s harder for conservatives to call me effeminate for opposing wars of aggression now than it was to call anti-war people effeminate in the Vietnam war.
5. Related to point 2: if I want my eventual partner to be independent, intelligent, engaging, and bold enough to tell me “You’re full of shit,” I’ll have a good chance of meeting someone who fits the criteria. I can want an equal relationship without being considered a Martian.
Amanda also asks, “What do you see as necessary for feminism’s future?” My answer is twofold: “Looking forward toward more equality rather than just preserving what there is, and integrating with other liberal movements.” In the short run, abortion is important to tackle, but feminism should be not just about preserving the pro-choice status quo but also about demanding real measures to close the employment and wage gaps.
In addition, feminism should view itself as part of an integrated progressive movement for equal pay, universal health care, social benefits, gay rights, and so on; the closest thing NOW does, labeling everything under the sun “a feminist issue,” is not productive.