Skip to main content

What Feminism Is and Isn't

Crystal is a Christian, wife, mother, novelist, and former Behavior Specialist with an education in History and Religious Studies.

Male/female equality

Male/female equality

One Feminist's Take on What Feminism Means

A huge pet peeve for me is hearing a woman say she wants to buy or do something but "can't" because her husband won't "let" her or, worse, she needs to ask for permission. What? Is the item or activity in question legal and socially acceptable? If yes, then why on Earth would you need to ask anyone for permission to do/buy something? For that matter, why would an adult accept someone saying they "can’t"?

Even if a woman is a stay-at-home mom/wife, and the husband works, a marriage should be 50/50. In the state of California, the law defines community property—a.k.a. money and material objects—as "any asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, and after the parties separate." The only justification I can see for a wife asking her husband for permission for anything is if the husband also asks for permission to make a purchase or engage in a legal and socially acceptable activity.

Here's the thing. . . . In my marriage, we talk. We go over the big purchasing decisions together and make decisions together based on whether or not we can afford it or if there are other options. But there's no giving or getting permission. For example, I collect typewriters and have about 20 of them. If I want another typewriter in my collection and can make the purchase without causing financial harm to our lifestyle, I will simply buy the darn thing and act like a kid on Christmas Day when it arrives. I don’t have to ask permission, and there is no him telling me I can't have it or me telling him he can't have something because that would be a parent/child relationship, and it has no place in the adult relationship.

My husband always laughs when he sees an ad on Craigslist or eBay and some guy is saying his wife is making him sell this or that because it just sounds ludicrous. We always wonder if the guy really does have to bend over backward to his wife’s opinion of what he can and cannot own, or is he just saying that because selling his motorcycle, hot rod, tools, etc., needs some sort of justifier in front of the other guys? Let's face it, dude . . . if you’re telling the truth and she’s really bossing you around, you need to grow a spine and stand up (politely and non-violently) for yourself. If you’re just saying it to save face in front of the other guys, then you’re just making your wife look like a real bitch, and you still need to grow a pair.

When my husband and I were young and he had long hair and a hot rod car, my mother and her friends would ask me, "Why don't you make him cut his hair and get rid of that car?" I'd tell them, "Because I'm his wife, not his mother, he's a grown man, and I wouldn't want a man who lets me boss him around." They'd shake their heads and talk about how naive I was and how I’d learn one of these days, but that's okay, they were all divorced before they hit their 30's, and I've been married to the same man for almost 30 years now.

Marriage is about teamwork and give-and-take. I cook the meals and usually fix up my husband's plate because I'm going into the same room with my plate, and it doesn't hurt me to be nice to him—quite the opposite, actually. It's good for us to treat one another with respect and kindness. That's why he always washes the dishes for me. We both do our share of the odd jobs, and we don't assign gender to those jobs. We do things for each other out of mutual respect and consideration for another human being. We are not "the little woman" and "the big man"—we are a husband and a wife, and we work together.

There are a lot of women out there who consider themselves feminists and feel strongly that doing anything for the males in their lives somehow makes them less of a woman or a servant of some sort. There are many feminists who believe being dependent on a man in any way is abhorrent and diminishes the strength of a woman. These things are simply not true. I am a strong, opinionated, independent, free-thinking woman who has held jobs, raised five terrific sons, and still—after 30 years—rely and depend on my husband for many things, not the least of which is emotional support when I need it. He also depends on me for all the same things for the same reasons. Why? Because we are more than the sum of our parts. We are more than a person with a penis and testicles and another person with a vagina and breasts.

Interestingly—and most women forget this—feminism is defined as "the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes." Feminism is not about being a bitch. It's about being strong enough to stand up for yourself and for your man.

There is a saying I like to remember, and it applies to so many of life's situations. "The lighting of another's candle does not dim your own." In other words, doing something nice for someone else doesn't detract from your own strength. In fact, I really believe it helps you both become stronger people. After all, do we not thrive under positive attention and affection and wither under heavy scrutiny and criticism? Then why should we think we would become more powerful by treating a fellow human being—man or woman—with less respect, kindness, love, and compassion than we ourselves would want to be treated? Not to mention the benefit to ourselves when things we do are appreciated. It's a win/win situation. Give it a try.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 C A Bennett