Friday, June 30, 2006

Feminism and Liberalism

Okay, that's it. This blog has become far too depressing, not to mention neglected. I'll try to do better.

I consider myself a feminist, and that's something I'm proud of. I think that a lot of women are afraid of the word "feminist," thinking that it somehow entails being a man-hating bitch. I disagree. The root of feminism is merely asserting that women are of equal worth as men. Feminism does not inherently promote absolute equality, as in interchangibility, among men and women. It promotes equality, as in being equals in worth and ability.

My mother taught me that I can do anything. She taught me to be a strong, independant, capable woman, and for that I will always love and cherish her. I remember her telling me to "be a real woman." She never implied that I was weak, but instead used the phrase as a reminder that I was capable of so much more than society told me I was. Her mother taught her these things, and she passed them down to my sisters and I, and I, for one, will pass them down to my daughters.

Before I continue any further, I feel that I need to make a disclaimer. Many people claim that the Mormon church is wrought with sexual discrimination and oppression towards women. That is simply not the case! In fact, doctrine of the LDS church asserts that women are an integral part of God's plan for mankind, and that a man is not complete without a woman, nor a woman without a man. God meant for us to be partners, not competitors. In addition, Utah was the second state in the Union to grant sufferage to women. Why, those sexist bastards.

Having said that, I often feel that the culture (note: culture, not doctrine) of LDS society persists in oppressing women. Women are so closely pigeonholed into the role of wife and mother (a noble role) that women who do not marry young, or chose not to have children in the first year of marriage, are almost looked down upon. "What?" The faces of judgemental members seem to say, "You want to have a career? Don't you know a woman belongs in the home?" While I fully believe that one of the greatest honors of womanhood is the opportunity to raise children into successful adults, I also feel that no woman should be discouraged from reaching for her dreams.

I believe that God wishes woman to grow to their full potential as much as he wants men to. It seems that President Gordon B. Hinckley agrees. In an interview with President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie in 1998, Sister Hinckley was quoted as saying, "He never insisted that I do anything his way, or any way, for that matter. From the very beginning he gave me space and let me fly." In response, President Hinckley stated, "I’ve tried to recognize my wife’s individuality, her personality, her desires, her background, her ambitions. Let her fly. Yes, let her fly! Let her develop her own talents. Let her do things her way. Get out of her way, and marvel at what she does." What is that but a vote of confidence in the innate strength and capabilities of women?

As I have made my views of feminism clear, I now turn to the views I recently came across in a blog entitled "Feminist Mormon Housewives." I respect these women for making a statement and developing a place where they can share their opinions. Even more, I respect the men who support them with open-minds rather than being intimidated or threatened.

I was thrilled to find this blog, as I saw it as a place where I could express my opinions without incurring the wrath of pretentious Mormon zealots. Or, I could at least read the opinions of others and find comfort in the fact that I am not alone in my feminism. As I read the blog, however, I found it to be littered with blatantly liberal statements. Not that I'm against liberalism. I think one of the wonderful things about our country is that people are free to believe as they would. The thing is, I'm not liberal. Not really at all. I'm more liberal than my parents, but please, Charleton Heston is probably more liberal than my parents. I my heart, though, I'm conservative. I'm against abortion. I'm pretty much okay with guns, to an extent. I like George W. Bush, although I don't agree with all of his policies.

As I continued reading and continued to find blatant anti-Bush comments (such as "I’ve even considered taking down the US flag that hangs on the wall in my garage because I don’t want people getting the wrong idea about my beliefs . Just last week a neighbor complimented me on it and I had to suppress the urge to clarify that I was certainly not making any kinda pro-war pro-Bush conservative (shiver) kinda statement"), I felt more and more uncomfortable. Instead of finding a place where I could share my opinions on one topic, I felt that my opinions on other topics would be shunned.

This led me to an interesting question. Do I have to be liberal to be a feminist? Is there some strange dichotomy between feminism and convervatism? Are they mutually exclusive? I don't believe they are, and yet, I think the lovely women over at FMH may disagree.