C’mon Feminists, Please Don’t Make Me Renounce Feminism AGAIN.

{My girl, on top of the world.}

I was nineteen the first time I decided that feminism was a load of crap. I was a co-president of NYU’s Women in Film association, had nearly completed my minor in Women’s Studies, was one of only nine women in my class at Tisch’s prestigious Kanbar Institute for Film and TV, and I decided that the whole thing was kind of a giant crock that I wanted nothing to do with.

Maybe it’s because I grew up with a Mother who raised herself, or a paternal Grandmother who survived divorce and single-parenthood in the 1950s, but I never really bought in to the idea that women couldn’t do things just because we’re women.  (Except possibly for peeing standing up.  That never goes well for me.)

In college, the deeper I dug into the culture of “womyn with a Y” the less I wanted to do with it.  As Cine Chica and the girls of Womyn’s Center tried to work together, it became clear that our philosophy of celebrating the triumphs of Women in Film and their philosophy of raging against the male machine were not going to jive.  An adjunct professor came over from Sydney who had an incredible reputation in the world of feminist films and documentary.  I petitioned to take her class. But on the first day, rather than vigorously scribbling down the wisdom Professor “Penny” had to impart, I was passing snarky notes to Sara musing on the homogenized nature of our white/privileged/female/agro classmates “…and to think I almost wore a bandana today. Now THAT would have been embarrassing.”

I graduated from college and my “female driven” thesis film hit the festival circuit. (For the uninitiated, “female driven” just means there’s a woman in the lead role.)  With an all-girl crew from Camera to Costumes if there was an “excellence in female film making” award or commendation to be given, we got it.  The Director’s Guild nominated me for their student award for Best Female Director.  Sara was given the Nestor Almendros Commendation for Female Cinematographers.  Emma and Tara, our producers were touted for achieving such high production values…as women.

At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I was 21 and incredibly disenfranchised by feminism.  I left my Women’s Studies degree off of my diploma. I wanted to enter the professional world on an even playing field and I was sick of being singled out for having a vagina.  I felt like all feminism had ever done for me was remind everybody that I was different from the boys. I truly didn’t think I was different. And therefore, I didn’t want to be identified as a feminist.

But as I grew from a girl into a woman, something changed.  As I took meetings with folks who weren’t afraid to admit “when I asked you to come in, I just assumed ‘Morgan’ was a male” and learned to laugh off what some might call sexual harassment, but we in the film business call “camaraderie” I realized that like it or not, I WAS different.  As I heard stories of female studio heads swearing off female writers, and worked as hard as my male writer friends only to be the last un-produced scribe left standing, I found myself forced to question my hard-and-fast denial of all things feminist and wonder if in fact there was something to this gender inequality business.

And slowly but surely, my views shifted.  Eventually, I came to see feminism as a buffet.  I love that the women before me burned their undergarments in protest, but I also love the way my boobs look in a wonder bra.  I love that my husband would never describe me as “fairer” but will open a door for me anyway because it’s chivalrous, and it’s okay to want to kick ass at work but be treated like a lady at home.  I love that when I tried to go back to pitching movies after two weeks of maternity leave, a producer who I’d long admired asked me to lunch to make sure someone told me that the business wouldn’t forget about me if I took a minute to recover from childbirth and bond with my baby.

And as the mother to a young girl, I love modeling for her every day that Mommy works hard and has dreams, and I can’t wait for her to cheer me on as I make them come true.

But then came this whole Ann Romney/Hilary Rosen flap, and the TIME breastfeeding cover/their attempt to re-launch the Mommy-Wars, and now this absurd  “SAHM’s can’t be feminists” article in the Atlantic from Elizabeth Wurtzel (which Rita Arens wrote brilliantly about on BlogHer, if you missed it) and OMG FEMINISM YOU ARE TOTALLY MAKING MY HEAD SPIN.

I have friends who are 1% SAHMs with nannies and workout schedules, and I have friends who only get to see their kids from 6 to 7:30pm between quitting time and bedtime. I have friends who run companies and have no children at all.  None of these classifications makes me, or any of the archetypes in question any more or less a feminist.  If a woman never earns a penny because her husband’s salary affords her that option, but she devotes her life to helping and inspiring young girls — who is Elizabeth Wurtzel to call her “not a feminist”?  If a female studio head makes millions of dollars a year but won’t hire her screenwriting counterparts because “PMS isn’t conducive to delivering a draft on time” does her sizable bank account truly overshadow her oppressive attitudes?

And if so-called “liberated” women are going around calling child-rearing “not work” do they really have a right to call themselves Feminists?  Are they truly in favor of “advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men,” which as Rita reminded us is the dictionary definition of the word?  Because right now my kiddo is at school, and I’m working, and let me tell you — writing this post feels like a FREAKING VACATION.

Ivy league degrees, financial independence, and fancy titles are great, but feminism is so much deeper than that.  Please, elitist smarty pantses across America, don’t sully the word so badly that those of us actually in the trenches of feminism don’t want to touch it.

29 Responses to C’mon Feminists, Please Don’t Make Me Renounce Feminism AGAIN.

  1. BringUpBee says:

    I love this so hard. 

  2. RitaArens says:

    You had me here: If a female studio head makes millions of dollars a year but won’t hire her screenwriting counterparts because “PMS isn’t conducive to delivering a draft on time” does her sizable bank account truly overshadow her oppressive attitudes? — I totally agree, Morgan (and thanks for the shout-out) — if you’re not doing your part to model in word and deed that you respect women and their contributions to society equally to men’s, then you’re not a feminist in my definition, whether you’re a woman who’s “made it” or not.

  3. postpartumprogr says:

    @the818 I just tried to comment on your post. But I can’t cuz I don’t know my Lifefyre login … annoooooyinggggg ….

  4. alexandrawrote says:

    I think in the last year, as the War in Women truly began to terrify me, and I saw the ways in which the very things my mother and grandmothers fought so hard for we’re once again fighting for again (sorry, Mom), I’ve become less complacent. My definition of feminism doesn’t match Wurtzel’s anymore than the way it does that of the conservatives who are stripping our reproductive rights at lightning speed. I hate the how much those who love/hate feminism seem so hellbent on dividing us.

  5. RaisingMadison says:

    love this so so so much.
     

  6. I just read I mean slogged through the Wurtzel piece. What a tool. There’s nothing feminist about that piece. This is YET ANOTHER example of someone who pretends to be feminist but wants to define feminism for the undereducated and ignorant (since she is such an authority on these things) while cheerfully ignoring class, unemployment rates, race, and socioeconomic status. She might as well be telling women to pull themselves up by their damn bootstraps and just get a job already. 

  7. Is this the same Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose parents paid for her private school, her private psychiatric care, her multiple rehabs, her higher education, and subsidized her living in multiple cities while she flailed about as a struggling author and drug addict? This is the person who in the article states that she has always been strict about earning her keep? PLEASE.

  8. the818 says:

    @jlhilde xo

  9. elizamccall says:

    @the818 well said! you can’t be feminist & judge other women’s choices. equal/free to do what YOU think is right! All are valid & important!

  10. CarrynM1 says:

    @the818 Love this.Read both the Wurtzel and Slaughter articles,W’s article really irritated me,S’s article irritated me too a bit.

  11. CarrynM1 says:

    @the818 I feel like I cant’ identify with any of it.

  12. Paperbuttons says:

    Holy shit, thank you. That Elizabeth Wurtzel piece pissed me off so much. It was brainless. 

  13. KeAnne says:

    The Wurtzel piece was interesting.  I felt it was intentionally provocative.  I used to understand feminism and I call myself a feminist, but I’m so confused by what it means now that so many are co-opting it and attempting to define it to fit their agendas.   Great post. 

  14. AlyGatrS says:

    @the818 What you said…YEAH!

  15. sharonfain says:

    @the818 Love this post! Women need to stop the “war on women” internally! I thought the point was we should all be able to do what we want.

  16. Kendall says:

    I love love love love love love love love love this post. Also, I really love it. Thank you so much! Found you via Pinterest and really needed this today!
     
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    Affordable blog proofreading for when your blog has too many followers to pretend it’s okay because no one’s going to see it. 

  17. Tricia says:

    Amen. And spot on. 
     
    Especially the part about work. I have photos of my twin toddlers (Search and Destroy) hung in my cube at work. “OMG you must miss them soooo much when you have to be separated from them every day.”
    1) They’re at school. 
    2) It’s quiet here. Sometimes my sanity needs that.
    I’ll argue that makes me a BETTER mother and more likely to kick ass and take names where needed.

  18. the818 says:

    @rebelgrain Thank you :)

  19. AKAJaneRandom says:

    @the818 I have been told numerous times that because I stay at home I’m not a real feminist. We need a good definition of the word.

  20. alliepal says:

    @CoconutRobot @the818 that is one good article.

  21. the818 says:

    @coconutrobot xo. Thanks Mama.

    • CoconutRobot says:

      @the818 I read it out loud to my husband when I first read it. I don’t do that unless I could say amen after every sentence.

  22. SugarfootSpeaks says:

    @CoconutRobot @the818 That was great! Really enjoyed it!

  23. EvanthiaOfMM says:

    Ooh, thank you for writing this! I’ve been feeling more and more distance from my feminist/Barnard College background ever since I became a stay-at-home mom. I can just feel other women’s judgment when I say I left my career to raise my child, as if this means I’ve somehow forgotten the work generations before me have done so that women would have the privilege of abandoning this very lifestyle.

    To me, Wurtzel’s position is the most damaging and a mere perpetuation of the foolish mommy wars. She needs a serious dose of reality and a true glimpse into the lives of other “feminists” who don’t necessarily fit her description!

  24. Pingback: yes, she’s talking about feminism again. « justanothergirlinisrael

  25. ladyestrogen says:

    Yes, yes and yes! I experienced a similar thing in art school. My professors were all 70s feminist artists and as a woman, if I wasn’t expressing my feeling about having a vagina on canvas, I somehow was failing as an artist. The guys? They could paint whatever they wanted. Bullshit.
     
    I just wrote about the also latest trend of not shaving in the name of feminism. WTF, people! Shave, don’t shave – this is not an issue and I don’t care. 
     

  26. Melaina25 says:

    No one actually burned their bras— they were models paid by the media and it was all part of the backlash against feminism.  “Backlash” by Susan Faludi– fab book  :)

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