Dear Thursday: The Everyday Feminist

Hey Guys, I wanted to end our Feminism series by offering up some everyday solutions — not just complaints — for the current state of Feminism, so here goes.

Photo Credit: Gabriela Gonzalez Gaete

Photo Credit: Gabriela Gonzalez Gaete

1. Stop congratulating men for doing what they should have been doing in the first place. Now I went back and forth with myself on this one, b/c I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement and encouragement. However, it’s hard to say that men and women should be equal when I can’t count on two hands the number of women who have told me that I’m “so lucky” to have a husband who changes diapers. Really? Now I think I’m lucky to have found someone I love as much as I love CH, but the straight-up fact is that I would never have married anyone who doesn’t change diapers. Parenting is a two-person job. If one person isn’t willing to help out then that makes the other person “unlucky” IMO, not me “lucky” for having a husband that does what he’s supposed to do.

I also see this in other aspects of society. Single fathers getting all sorts of TV shows, book deals and love for going above and beyond while single mothers are just a fact of life. When a busy male executive cuts out early for his daughter’s play, “Awww.” Busy female executive — well, that’s why she didn’t get the promotion.

I once had an ex who informed me after our relationship ended that he had been an awesome boyfriend, b/c he had never cheated on me. Again, really? Did that make me an awesome girlfriend b/c I also didn’t cheat? When did it get so bad that some men started thinking that they should be congratulated for staying faithful?

I mean say your please and thank yous, but realize that you should both be sincerely grateful for each other. And if you truly believe in equality don’t fall all over yourself to congratulate decent men if you haven’t given your best female friend a non-surface compliment in weeks. In fact, call or email a woman you know and congratulate her for doing a good job, whether she’s a mother or an exec or both. She could probably use the compliment. Seriously, we get so few when it comes to that kind of stuff.

2. Give your time or money to at least one cause that supports women. I’ve mentioned before that I got my annual pap smear and birth control at Planned Parenthood during the lean times when I didn’t have insurance. That’s because Planned Parenthood receives donations to support all kinds of woman-based programs. I donate money to them every Christmas to ensure that other women without insurance have access to pap smears and birth control. There are so many awesome orgs out there that support women, no matter what your politics, I’m sure you can find at least one to support with your money or time.

3. Try not to judge. This is probably the hardest one for most of us. But now that I’ve had Betty, I find it really hard to slam other mothers, even the proverbial sanctimommy, which I still have yet to meet. At the end of the day, the vast majority of us are doing the best that we can with the resources that we have. Which is why it surprises me that there is so much mother shaming and so little father shaming. Seriously, how do fathers who do absolutely nothing to support their children still get dates while mothers get slammed left and right for not doing a good enough job? And don’t even get me started on the mommy wars.

We judge other women for so many things: the way they dress, the way they interact, the way they look, the way they behave, the way they are. How much stronger would we be, how much farther would we get if we all just made the individual promiseĀ  to empathize with as opposed to judging other women?

4. Treat young girls just like you treat young guys. I’ve been stunned by the amount of slut-shaming that still goes on with girls in our society. If a teenager gets pregnant, she’s often the one blamed for not being able to keep her legs closed. Wait, wasn’t there a boy involved? Ad Council seems to think the way to prevent underage drinking and drug-taking is to tell girls that they’ll be victims of a sex crime. But where are commercials wanrning guys that if they get drunk or do drugs that they could become the perpetrators of a sex crime? It also seems that girls are often perceived as making bad decisions, while boys are just being boys. I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 and I certainly wasn’t allowed to spend the night at a boys house. I wonder how many guys could say the same thing?

5. Support other women. Even I have to remind myself of this one. Often men are so much better at asking for help, while women are so much better at offering it. But try this, the next time you find yourself judging another woman, try to figure out how you can be of help to her. And instead of giving your girlfriends unsolicited advice, compliment them on everything that they’re doing right. Chris Rock was right when he accused women of living, breathing, and eating compliments. Instead of running other women down or getting frustrated when they don’t take the good advice you give them, why don’t you try building up every woman you come in contact with?

So there you have it, my ideas about how to be a casual feminist in our everyday lives and hopefully improve the position of all women in the future. Do you have any ideas to add to the list? If so, let us know in the comments.