There are some guaranteed ways to get me all fired up and ready to fight. They include but aren’t limited to spewing rhetoric about keeping women in their place, limiting their options and thus their potential, or blaming them for being raped. Recently my fired-up button was pushed. Salon.com had picked up an article, “6 Reasons (+2) to Not Send Your Daughter to College” from FixtheFamily.com. Please read it if you dare. I wasn’t going to but had to acquiesce in order to write this post. As I figured, it is misogynistic nonsense. Lindy West at Jezebel.com wrote an excellent rebuttal—one that I could’ve written, minus all the expletives. Keep it classy is my motto, even when angry—well, at least when speaking or writing for the general public. I highly recommend reading both pieces.
A fellow Evergreener shared the Salon.com post on her Facebook page and as you can imagine, women were responding with objections and hurling insults at the FixtheFamily guy. There was a comment from at least one man. I checked out after I left a comment in response to his because I dislike getting into back-and-forth political arguments on other people’s social media pages; I’m fine doing that on my own page with people I know, but not with complete strangers.
Anyway, the guy wrote, and I am paraphrasing, that we (women) were trampling on this Catholic man’s freedom of speech and that we were being dishonorable to those who had fought for that freedom of speech with our harsh rhetoric. To reiterate, I’ve greatly simplified his response to focus only on the elements that caused me to clench my jaws and release a low growl then a sigh, ending with a major eye roll. I would’ve also banged my head on my desk in one final dramatic display of disdain, but I was on the bus heading home, not at the office.
My response was, and again, I’m paraphrasing because I haven’t gone back to revisit the exchange, but basically it read: “No one is interfering with his freedom of speech. He can say what he wants, but we also have the freedom of speech to disagree vehemently with him. That’s the beauty of this country. Furthermore, there is nothing dishonorable about this, especially where women see oppression and speak out against it.”
Thank goodness my parents didn’t buy into this garbage. They had three daughters and always believed the three of us deserved the same rights and opportunities that boys were afforded. It was never a question of whether or not their daughters would go to college. Neither of them possessed college degrees, but as long as I can remember, the plan was that I and my siblings would attend college, one way or another. They wanted their daughters to have a better life than they did. I will forever be grateful for that. Furthermore, I was brought up Catholic, and I know no Catholics who believe what FixtheFamily guy does—some probably do, but I don’t know them personally.
Now, I am not saying all women must or should go to college or work outside the home. If a woman chooses not to further her education or chooses to stay at home and raise her children, that is fine as long as it is her choice and not her parents or someone else forcing that decision on her. I feel the same way about men. Their choices are limited too. I know a few stay-at-home dads but not many. Why? Because even in the 21st century, society still sees men as breadwinners and women as caregivers. If a man decides to stay home with his children, he is a slacker or a sissy – he’s not a real man because he is not providing for his family. Give me a break. Until we eliminate these archaic gender-role assignments both sexes are doomed to limited life choices. Hopefully, future generations will be more enlightened.
I’m glad my small-town, high-school educated parents (Dad received an Associate’s degree in Criminology after I graduated high school) were wise enough, and dare I say progressive enough, to want their daughters to fulfill our potential. I am proud they are my parents and that even with their limited exposure and experiences in this great big world, they expected me and my sisters to thrive and succeed. They allowed us and encouraged us to go out into the world where we made our own decisions and choices, and yes, we made some mistakes—we still make mistakes—but we’ve always learned from them. Happily, I can report that we three college-educated ladies have made the most of our lives, in our own unique ways, and contributed to our communities.
Maybe Mr. FixtheFamily wants to stifle his daughters’ potential and their futures, but he should stop encouraging others to do the same to their female offspring. Women have come a long way baby, but we still have a ways to go. I will not stay silent or not write about that which I find demeaning and oppressive to women, and I don’t care who thinks I am being dishonorable. I repeat, I will not stay silent or remain unengaged.