It has been, almost from the beginning of time, a man’s world. Although, back in the early days of civilization, men revered women. And then things changed. But the pendulum is slowly swinging back in the other direction. A more balanced direction. Which is an undeniable result of the feminist movement.
What is feminism? And more importantly, what is a feminist?
Feminism is a movement concerned with empowering women and establishing equality between the sexes. It is intersectional. (which means takes into account the interplay between different forms of discrimination) and welcomes anyone and everyone who supports the promotion of equal rights and opportunities.CULSU Feminist Society.
The first wave of feminism in the United States began in 1848 with the first women’s rights convention, held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. Organizers advertised it as “a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” Attended by 300 women and men.
Back in the 1970’s, during the second wave, when the movement started to build momentum, people were taking it to the extreme. Suggesting that women no longer wanted men to be gentleman; to open doors for them, carry things for them, or pick up the tab in a restaurant. Because women wanted to be equal on every level. A women’s liberation movement.
If a woman is earning a good salary, equal to the man she is with, why wouldn’t she want to pick up the tab? I know many women who do. But, it’s not about that.
It’s about being equal on a professional level. Being considered equally to a man for gainful employment at a job they are qualified for. It’s about being paid equal wages and given equal benefits for equal work and equal levels of employee status.
If you are a woman and you don’t support equality for women, why not? How would you feel if you knew the co-worker sitting at the desk next to yours doing the same job, who also happens to be a man, was getting paid 40% more than you just because he’s a man?
If you are a man and your wife, mother, sister, or best friend was passed over for a job you knew she was well qualified for simply because she was a woman, how would you feel?
That it’s unjust, discriminatory, unacceptable? Which brings us to the empowered feminist. “A feminist is a person who stands up for social, political and economic equality.” Anyone can be a feminist; women and men.
A feminist doesn’t want to take over the world. She just wants to live in it, side by side, with everyone else. It’s the feminist who can look adversity in the face that begins to create change. There is one such woman, whom we all know.
A Female Superhero
On Wednesday evening, I attended a special screening of RBG at The Showroom. It was a one night only event hosted by Monmouth University with a Q&A Session afterward by Professor Lisa M. Dinella, PHD.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is such a feminist. A petite 5’1″ tall powerhouse who spoke with a soft voice and carried a big stick. And still does at the age of 86! She was born on March 15, 1933. And is well known as only the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Throughout the 90 minute documentary, “Bubbe” (which means Grandmother in Yiddish) offered up some sound advice, shared in part, by her granddaughter. For instance, “do not to let yourself be controlled by useless emotions.”
“The way to win an argument is not to yell. You bring them to the table with a soft voice.”
Perhaps it was her Brooklyn upbringing that gave her the moxie to attend the predominantly male Cornell University. To take on, and win, the many discriminatory cases against women. And “to change the way the world is for American women.”
In 1970 is was legal to fire a woman for being pregnant. And if a woman wanted to take out a bank loan, she needed her husband to co-sign.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg became successful by learning how to burn the candle at both ends. She enrolled in Harvard Law School as a new mother. She cared for her sick husband, also a Harvard law student and battling cancer.
She attended classes, took care of her daughter and her husband, and helped her husband study, all the while studying for herself. She sometimes functioned on as little as two hours of sleep a night. It’s hard to comprehend.
Throughout most of her life Ruth would hear the relentless propaganda, “Nice girls don’t speak up. Nice girls don’t make demands.” She wasn’t about to let that hard work be for naught. She did what she thought was right and she didn’t back down.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a powerhouse in her own right. She lived a good life and raised a loving family. And it was the support of her feminist husband, Marty Ginsberg, that made life sweeter. He was a successful tax attorney in New York City, he was confident in his career and in himself. He knew what Ruth was doing was important. And when she was submerged in her work, he did the cooking and took care of the kids. Marty Ginsberg is also a feminist.
The Q&A session that took place after the movie was interesting and informative. People shared their ideals about doing “what they can to make small changes.” Prof. Dinella shared this quote, “Pick a little piece of the world and improve it.”
If you ever find yourself in the midst of an unjust situation, ask yourself this question:
“What would RBG do?”