Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Mismeasure of Women

I don't know how I got onto the New York Time's website. One minute I was playing on Farmville and the next I was reading editorials. I must be my mother's daughter.

I came across this op-ed, published a few days ago and written by Joanne Lipman. "The Mismeasure of Women" attempts to explain how women have made so many gains in the past 30 years and how now, more than ever, women are facing a stalling of their progress.

Now, I am the last woman to define herself as a "feminist" and I cringe when I hear the word. No worries, this editorial does not make any claims like abortion has liberated women - it's not even mentioned. (I was surprised!) The piece merely states the reasons why women aren't making the advances they used to. However, I feel like Joanne Lipman left out some finer points about it.

I think the status of women could be improved if the view of femininity can be improved.
Women in the workplace are so often viewed by two extremes.

1) The progressive modern woman: Other women in the workplace see them as co-workers, colleagues, and sometimes bosses. They are looked at in respect and sometimes fear.

2) Ungodly evil woman: Ultra-conservative men and women see working women as women who are trying to be "like men." They are denying their submissive nature and femininity.

I disagree with both. Women in the workplace are just women that work. Not all women are called to have a job in the home. Just face it guys, some women are smarter than you and deserve your job because of that. Hire on merit, not on sex.

Women in the home are viewed by one of two extremes:

1) Oppressed, ignorant women: The more liberal and progressive women's rights groups see stay-at-home moms are being under the oppressive control of evil husbands.

2) Good, God-fearing women: Other stay-at-home moms (homeschoolers, ultra-conservative or religious) see their fellow unemployed women as fully embodying their womanly duties - educating children, cleaning the house, and letting their men be the big breadwinners.

I disagree with both. Stay-at-home moms are merely responding to a particular call. Some women make great teachers for their home-schooled children, but not all women are cut out for it. Everyone has different skills and intellects. Progressive feminists need to understand that staying at home is not oppressive, but it is a choice that women now have.

If only people could come to understand that femininity is not defined by what the woman DOES, but is at the heart of who the woman IS. All women are born feminine and no matter where they work, they bring that workplace something a man never can - something distinctly female. Maybe if the world could acknowledge the work that all women do - regardless if its in the home or in an office - women will finally have an equal place among men. For if women are viewed as who we are and not by what we do, we will no longer be restricted.

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