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My kind of feminism

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 17, 2005

When I came to Saint Mary’s I did not consider myself a feminist. I could not deny that in some instances men are better than women, and women are better than men in others.

I also could not deny the fact that I enjoyed the special treatment that came from being a girl. It is nice to have the door held open for me and to know I will never be drafted. With these opinions, I was sure I did not qualify.

After coming to Saint Mary’s, with its relatively diverse population when it comes to women’s rights, I learned that my outlook on life and the sexes actually has a name – compatablist feminism.

Compatablist feminists believe that there are differences between men and women and that with these differences come strengths and weaknesses. Neither sex is better than the other, nor are they equal. Because men and women are not the same they deserve not equal but equitable treatment.

This means that women should be treated with the same amount of respect and dignity that all humans deserve. Both sexes should have the capability to strive for whatever station they desire in life. Because men and women have different strengths, we develop an interdependent relationship in order to maximize on these strengths. I believe that our society and Saint Mary’s are set up in a way to allow this to happen.

Now many people will read this and think: “What? That is not what a feminist is.” It is important to recognize that there are other schools of feminism. Liberal feminism is what most people think of as feminism, which is not surprising because they are activist-based and the most vocal.

When you think of feminists burning their bras, growing their armpit hair, and bashing men, they are who you are thinking of. I believe that their spirit, enthusiasm and hope toward a better life are impressive.

However, I begin to disagree when they deny the differences between the sexes and start to blame men for many of their problems. It seems as though many feminists have lost sight of the idea of equality and have begun striving for dominance.

As a believer in equity of rights for all humans, I cannot agree with this. Further, I cannot agree with those who say marriage and motherhood are wrong or backward concepts. I hope to one day be a mother and a wife and to work together with my husband to teach my children to respect not only the opposite sex but all people.

Not all liberal feminists are as extreme as I have described, but in reality that is the image that comes to mind when the word feminist is used. I know it is what I thought of before I came to Saint Mary’s.

I am thankful that I have learned that the way I view the world is a brand of feminism that I am proud of. I have accepted my gifts as well as my weaknesses as a woman because of it. I hope that society can begin to realize the other faces of feminism: ones of equity and respect instead of radicalism and man-hating.