Monday, March 02, 2009

A Tea-Partying Feminist


*Rant warning*

I have a card (like a calling card) I like to give out that describes me with various phrases, including: feminist, swing dancer, computer geek, and tea consultant. I'm a tea-partying feminist. I enjoy sewing and baking and love to wear skirts. And I'm very concerned about women's rights and equalities. I think these various parts of me blend well. Feminist isn't the "F-word" and it certainly doesn't mean I hate men. I hate discrimination. And tea parties fit well into the feminism world. Tea parties are, after all, an historical tool women have used to organize for causes. (I'll be writing more about that later this week.)

I'm declaring this to be Feminist Week on my blog. The topics will cover various aspects of feminism - through my filters. And I'll make at least a couple of connections to tea, as well.

If you don't like the label "feminist," it's OK - but keep reading. I know that you're concerned about the equality of our sisters. For example, just yesterday the NY Times published this comparison of earnings between men and women. The data comes from the population survey for 2007 and includes at least 50,000 responses for each sex. Move your mouse over the dots to see the differences. I'm practically screaming from my chair. I know all about the "opt-out" to have babies issue and why it impacts the numbers. And I think that's bunk. If men had the babies, do you think they'd earn less? In addition, a whole bunch of women don't have the luxury to stay home with their kids, or have healthier balance to their lives by working, or just enjoy the work stimulation! Second, an increasing number of us are choosing not to have kids (me included). I'm sure this opt-out business does impact the numbers, but I'm even more sure that there is institutional bias in the mix.

I am fortunate to have been raised in a time when the way for women has been pretty easy. I grew up under Title IX sports. Even though I didn't play sports in high school, I had girlfriends who did. I grew up always thinking I would go to college. I've always thought I was just as smart (often smarter) than the boys. In some respects, I've had it pretty easy thanks to the hard, hard work by women (and some men) who've gone before me. The question is this - Is that enough? What about the women who come next? What about my niece? There is much more to do. Because even though I've had it pretty easy, I have experienced discrimination and other messages that say "you can't" because I'm female.


For example, when I was a young girl, about 10, I thought I wanted to be a vet. Not a small-animal vet (dogs/cats), but a large-animal farm vet (horses/cows). I mentioned this to our family vet one day and he told me I should consider dogs and cats because I was too petite to work on large animals. I didn't want to work on dogs and cats, so I gave up the idea. My little 10-year-old self accepted that lie. The truth is, there are lots of women vets who work on large animals, regardless of the size of the woman. It's more about technique and tools than heft. The family vet was well-intentioned, I'm sure. But it's no excuse. I don't want anyone to tell my niece that she can't be whatever she wants because she's... too small, too big, too smart, not smart enough, too pretty, not pretty enough, a girl. This is just one story. There are others.

I think that's enough for today.

16 comments:

Blogging My Life Away said...

ok. I get it :) I have been in the workforce for 40 years. there has always been the double standard. I one time got promoted becase my manager told the big manager that I was the bread winner....what the heck did that have to do with anything???? Wasn't it my quality of work??? Too many double standards still exists......I am with you.....you can co anything you want to!!!! and many times better than men. Must we drag up examples? Eleanor Roosevlt comes to mind immediately...well dang it now y ou got me going :)

Teafan said...

Oh, I'll be checking every day! I just looked at that NYT website. Not a happy thing.

Jennifer said...

Equality is a theme that resonates with me, too, whether its for women (feminists), minorities, the disabled, the elderly...all populations in our society. I am doing my small part to break the cycle of discrimination against women by being careful about the messages I give to my son, and helping him to evaluate the messages I can't control from the media and external sources. Blog on, Steph! Can't wait for the next rant.

ms. mep said...

Preaching to the choir on this one, at least for this reader!

I hate that so many people have consider "feminist" a negative word.

Great post, and I'll stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

So, I have to admit that I'm a bit old fashioned...BUT I do not think "feminism" is a bad word. I think people have to understand the true definition of the word and the intentions of those using it...it may have negative connotations is some peoples minds, but that is because they won't look any farther! I think there is a place and a role for EVERYONE in this world. It all comes down to respect...which we lack a lot of in our society! People don't have to agree on everything to have respect for one another...why can't we all just get along and love each other?? :) I won't even get started on equal pay for women!! I think every mom in this world should charge her husband for her services at home(a lot of those husbands would be the ones not wanting to give equal pay to women that work for them!)
Love ya,
Keri

sweetcakes said...

Back in 1985 I was working for TWA when cooperate raider, Carl Icahn took over our airline. Every employee had to take a cut in pay. The flight attendants were asked to take a 22% pay cut and 22% cut in benefits, 44% total - more than any other work group in the company. Why? Because our work group was mostly women and we were not considered "bread winners." (Carl Icahn is quoted as saying this - not in these exact words but none the less stating this as the reason why we were asked to take more of a cut than other groups). All the other work groups, pilots, mechanics, etc. at the most took a 14% cut in pay.

Steph said...

@Blogging My Life Away - Wow! What a story!

@Keri - I just recently read that if a family paid for all the work that stay-at-home Moms did, it would be $144K per year. (And the study is a few years old.)

@Sweetcakes - Wow again! I'm hoping he got really bad press about that! That's crazy.

Jason said...

I'm here for ya, Sister! It's all about equality! Sometimes I'm ashamed to be a man, seriously.

Marilyn Miller said...

I totally agree with you. For me, however, it is sad that my children have chosen to not have children. I won't ever get to enjoy being a grandmother. Didn't Obama pass something saying that women must be paid equal to a man?

Denise at Uniquely Tea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denise at Uniquely Tea said...

I grew up in the 'burbs of Chicago and as a young teenager, was a big-time Cubs fan/baseball fan. I wanted to be a sports writer someday. I sent a letter to the sports editor at the local newspaper (Aurora Beacon News) about my "dream" and was shocked to pick up the paper a few weeks letter to see a response to my letter by none other than Jack Brickhouse, longtime Cubs announcer. This was in the 1960s and Jack said to me in the article that women will NEVER be sports writers because they didn't know anything about the game and would never be able to do locker-room interviews! ha! Oh how I wish I had saved that article. Just look at all the women sports announcers and writers today! As always, I'm looking forward to your blog - but this week, especially.

Joyce said...

Rant away Steph. It's fine with me.
I've worked in the Retail market for years where "Men" Managers made much more than the "Women"...and that was never fair. Even though we did the same amount of work.
I guess they figure they are the "heads of the household"....but what about those Single Mother's out there that are the "heads of THEIR households."
I've always felt sorry for them....I guess because my Mother was one for awhile too.
I don't know how those women make it many times. I work with some ladies even now that are holding down TWO jobs just to keep things going at home because they are single Mom's with kids.
Now....would they have to do that if they were men?
Very sad and unfair.....
I'm not a femminist per say.....but I am all about some "Eguality" for women especially in the work world.
I will be checking in on you all week in support of your rantings.
HA!

Joyce said...

Rant away Steph. It's fine with me.

I've worked in the Retail market for years where "Men" Managers made much more than the "Women"...and that was never fair. Even though we did the same amount of work.
I guess they figure they are the "heads of the household"....but what about those Single Mother's out there that are the "heads of THEIR households."
I've always felt sorry for them....I guess because my Mother was one for awhile too.
I don't know how those women make it many times. I work with some ladies even now that are holding down TWO jobs just to keep things going at home because they are single Mom's with kids.
Now....would they have to do that if they were men?
Very sad and unfair.....

I'm not a femminist per say.....but I am all about some "Eguality" for women especially in the work world.
I will be checking in on you all week IN support of your rantings.
HA!
Joyce

Steph said...

What incredible comments from you all. Thank you!

Philigry said...

love this post. i agree with you.

Allison said...

Steph- you got me too fired up to leave only a comment. I had to cover my response in a blog post of my own. :)

http://allibrew.blogspot.com/2009/03/wasted.html