Monday, September 17, 2007

Hot Button Words

You Are 85% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Well, there were no surprises to the outcome of this survey for me. I have long been a supporter of rights for all men and women to pursue their potential irrespective of gender.

It is interesting to me the type of mental images people conjure up when they hear the word "feminist" as compared to when they hear the word "feminine." I have always believed it was quite possible, and appropriate, to be both simultaneously.

I do not think that being abrasive or confrontational serves any cause. Gentle, reasoned debate can carry an idea far further than bashing others views. Yet I am so grateful for all the strong women and men who paved the way before me to set the stage of social change that made it possible for so many options to open up for all of us. Being feminist is not about wanting to cripple the men in power. It's about being willing to accept the responsibility inherent in sharing that power.

I am mindful of the fact that there remain many areas of the world where women are viewed as little more than chattel. I am so appreciative that I live in a time and place where I am allowed a voice and am treated with respect. I have choices available to me. I have opportunities that were unheard of to earlier generations of females.

One of my favorite short stories is the tale "Options" in the collection "Blue Champagne" by John Varley. In that sci fi story people of the future can choose whichever gender they want to experience by having their own body cloned with the hormones of the opposite gender implanted into the clone. Brain transplants have been perfected to the point that it is a simple matter to have your brain taken out of your current body and put into the cross gender created body of who YOU would be if you had been born the other sex. Whichever body a person is not wearing at the moment is put into a stasis chamber for safe storage until they want to switch back. That way they can experience MALE or FEMALE alternately as much as they like, fully exploring all the rich dimensions of their humanity.

The conflict of the story comes from the rift between a man and wife when a woman wants to consider trying some time as a guy and her husband is adamantly opposed to it. The way things play out has some interesting nuances.

What would the world be like if we didn't line up as "us" and "them" along gender lines, but instead recognized that all human spirits have elements of both? How would we view issues of money, power, intimacy in a world where gender could shift at the drop of a hat? How would we view parenting if mom/dad was interchangeable? How would we view what it means to get close to someone else?

Gender is such an intrinsic part of who we are. I can't even begin to fathom a world where the arrangements were that radically different. But just in my own lifetime I've seen some pretty sweeping shifts of how people experience and express what it means to be MALE and what it means to be FEMALE in American culture.

I can't help but wonder what new changes my children's children's world will bring.


Mimi said...

I'm always puzzled by the "post feminist" group - while I think there are definitely extremes in the feminist movement that I disagree with, I don't understand how women who have all these choices don't think it is because of, not in spite of, the feminist movement.

Ruth D~ said...

I'd love to read that story. I've often wanted to see what it would be like to live as a male. Walking a mile in the other gender's shoes (underwear?) would probably mens a lot of misunderstandings men and women have of each other.

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