Backwards And In High Heels

Feminism is a complicated, messy topic, and if you ask three women about it, you’re likely to get four different answers. Some women don’t want to define themselves as feminist because it sounds anti-male, others disagree about how much sexism and discrimination exists, and you can always count on folks like Rush Limbaugh to disparage “feminazis” as freeloading sluts who want Uncle Sugar to provide unlimited birth control and abortion on demand. And it’s a tricky issue around my house — my 17-year-old son feels like girls get all the breaks because he’s experienced classic educational bias against boys (everything from early school environments being more conducive to how girls learn, to a cliche-but-real male-hating gym teacher who informed them during the square dance unit that “the girls had her permission to slap the boys around if they messed up, because everyone knows boys can’t dance”). My 20-year-old started dancing at age 4, and he was teased mercilessly about it, until high school, when his classmates saw how cute the girls were in dance class, not to mention the revealing dancewear.

So I know there are ways in which it’s harder to be male. But I still believe women have not completely caught up — as the old expression goes, like ballroom dancers, we’re doing everything guys do, but backward and in high heels. (Note to my husband — that expression started as a cartoon about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and then was popularized by former Texas Governor Ann Richards. It did NOT originate as a line for Angel in Rent. But I digress…) And as far as whether or not to use the dreaded ‘f’ word, I love the way writer Caitlin Moran summed it up in her book, How To Be A Woman: “Here is a quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations, you’re a feminist.”

Sure, we’ve come a long way, baby (and we no longer need “our own cigarette” using that phrase… please tell me SOMEONE else remembers those hideous ads for Virginia Slims!) But we still have a long way to go, whether it’s the pay gap or minor cost differences at dry cleaners. And many male politicians seem to want to go backwards, whether it’s Todd Akin-type idiocy about pregnancy, Mike Huckabee explaining, “Men like to hunt and fish together, and women like to go to the restroom together,” or the Texas legislature permitting concealed firearms in sessions but banning tampons and sanitary pads for fear of them being thrown in protest against an abortion ban (yes, that really happened).

So here’s a musical reminder to these misogynist guys that outdated attitudes towards women just might affect how we vote.

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