Sunday, June 12, 2011

a radical feminist?

When I want to make someone who knows me in the concrete world of the flesh laugh, I tell them that I have been called a "radical feminist." That's just funny, because I learned all the domestic skills, I have a job in an area that is almost entirely female, and I don't promote the line that women have to have "careers." I have among my friends, many who have stayed at home with the kids, some who have worked part time, and some who were so blessed that they have been able to share the parenting with their spouse in ways that are roughly equal over time.

Life is about compromise. There is no ideal role for either men or women. Men who want to go as missionaries, have to make many very tough decisions, and face conflicting demands. It is simply very difficult. It is the same way for women. All women. We all of us, in varying degress, have the nature to create, design, produce, innovate, initiate, and lead. We are born with ambition to succeed and to contribute to society in any way that our skills enable us to. It can be overwhelming.

For some people, both men and women, ambition is muted. But others are driven. Men and women have this ambition. But most women are made aware early on of the need to balance conflicting demands and compromise. Some women don't. I regret that.

The strength of feminism is that it recognizes the equal nature of women. It makes me feel like a real human being - something that was missing for me for many years. I lived in psychological isolation and despair for many years.

Now, I am free of that. But, guess what. My life is made up of the need to compromise, and balance conflicting demands. That is just another part of being human. Men face this too, but perhaps a little later than earlier. Perhaps the weakness of feminism was that it was not always honest about how much of being human is about balancing conflicting demands. But feminism is right about getting women the vote, equal pay, equal right to work, equal right to not be beaten and raped.

Just think of women in the Bible - Lydia, a merchant of the expensive purple cloth, Phoebe, Chloe, Junia and so on. I think also of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and many other women of the Hebrew Bible who are not known to have children. But then there was Hannah, who would not compromise, and there were Bathsheba and Tamar who did compromise. And they are all honoured, the idealists and the compromisers alike.

This makes me free to be both the kind of woman who is driven, and the kind of woman who makes outrageous sacrifices for my children. That's just what it means to be human. I don't exclude men from this dilemma. I think of men as being human also.


Mike W said...

thankyou for this blog, it is very very helpful

Melinda McJames said...

This is a really beautiful and profound post Suzanne. Thank-you.