Flipping through the entirely wrinkled and water damaged Bedford Reader I realized that there is an essential part of the topic of feminism and masculinity that we have masterfully overlooked. We discuss “I Want A Wife” and other pieces of feminist literature without bothering to take a glimpse into the grey space (or “gray” for those who have differences in spelling preference) of reality.
Despite the claims and ravings of women there is an abundance of men in the world who have no desire to enslave their wives or take advantage of the perceived weakness that traditionally accompanies femininity. Yes, there are men who are crude and sexist but there are women who can easily be accused of the same sins. I know many members of the opposite sex who do not treat women like simple household items to be bartered and worn on the arm as a sign of conquest but with the respect that is due to each and every human being despite their race, gender, or beliefs.
There will always be hateful racists and raving sexists and the one true power that we can have over them is to live our lives in a way that proves us better than such tedious babbling. Those who submerge themselves in anger and superiority are the ones that suffer. Heated arguments and passionate literature does little other than to further inflame the passions of an already complacent listener. Men who believe themselves better than the opposite sex will not be easily swayed by an incensed article or a mob in the street. Such displays from either sex will ultimately lead only to further battles that will never be won. The only way to win this game is to live a life that shows that one is blind to the sexes. Yes, prejudices do exists and hurdle must be overcome but there will always be the brilliant female engineer or the talented male ballet artist that does not fit the stereotypical mold of “man” or “woman”.
Talents and successes should, of course, be celebrated but why must it be shocking news to discover that the talented party was a woman (or a man for that matter)? Equal political, economical, and personal rights have been achieved among the races and sexes and it is time that we cease arguing over which race or gender is the best and let each individual speak for his or herself. Across the centuries it has been proven that men alone do not possess bravery and women alone do not possess the capacity for raising children so why do we dwell upon the stereotypes that should have been cast by the wayside long ago? We dwell on them because somewhere inside we cherish them. We crave the molds because they help us understand who we are and what we can contribute to the world. In this age many have released themselves from these binding and have become successful in the world in which they live. One does not hear Condoleezza Rice or Hilary Clinton clawing their way to power by using an excuse of femininity. Why should anyone else? If I am treated differently for being a female my answer will be an audible “thank you for your time” and a mental “honestly, I pity you” because in this time of legalized equal opportunity the only restraints we have are ones placed upon us by chance or by ourselves. The American women of the 1920s who fought for equality among the sexes did not fight so that their offspring could complain of minute restraints that are placed upon them but to rise up and achieve the heights that were unavailable to their ancestors.
So achieve everything that you can and have the self respect to allow others to do the same.