“For the record, feminism by definition is: ‘The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’”- Emma Watson

“The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.”- Gloria Steinem

A brief apology here: Some of the material overlaps with a prior post, but I believe it can’t be said too often. Also, there may be a few comments in the post that offend. Just think about them.

By Emma Watson’s definition, I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember.

For two reasons, I am happy to announce I have just finished The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvior. The first is when I decided to read it, I didn’t realize the size of the task. I estimate it to be about 375,000 words (766 pages) of very dense text, and I’m glad to be done. The second and more important reason is it has given me an understanding of many issues and phenomena that I was only casually aware of before the read. It also puts everything in context. The book is very thorough on what it means to be a woman. It also details a great deal about the male psyche.  While the book was written 70 years ago in France, it is still 95% relevant.

The problem is bigger than most people realize and may take many years to rectify. I estimate it will take two more generations to get in the “ball park”.

As I see it, there are three obstacles: 1) Genetics, 2) Genetic predisposition, and 3) Cultural. The genetic issues aren’t really the problem and can be worked around. This is a global problem and can’t be resolved in a vacuum. If all the laws needing to be passed were to happen tomorrow and the day after that consistent enforcement started, only about 25% of the problem will have been addressed. The culture needs to change. Having the correct laws will slowly change some of the culture, but many other changes need to be made. Educational reform to make sure everyone has equal access to quality education and activities such as sports or other extracurricular activities, would be a start. It has been shown that young woman exposed to top educational opportunities and active in sports become more independent thinkers, more self-confident, and ultimately more successful at achieving equality. Sex and body education, for both genders, needs to be rethought. Materials need to be introduced in an engaging manner, before changes in the body occur to prevent confusion and misinformation. On the flip-side, not all women and men are in favor of the feminist movement. This is because of having grown in an environment that wasn’t supportive of increased woman’s rights. This is just my opinion, but I believe home schooling contributes to these backwards attitudes.

Sensitive issue here- all the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), in their primary document, relegate women to lower class.  How can this be reconciled without becoming hypocritical? How can progress be made towards equality with this significant section of the population believing this? Just something to think about.

I recently finished watching “Downton Abby” (set in the period from 1912-1925). Because I was concurrently reading The Second Sex, I tried to be aware of how the female roles were portrayed. If it was close to accurate, we have come a long way, but my two-generation estimate is relevant. It’s not what I would want, just trying to be realistic. All interested parties need to keep the pressure on, or it will never happen. According to de Beauvior, women have been second class objects since the beginning of the Bronze Age. The current situation is the natural default, which doesn’t mke it right. Much work needs to be done.

If you happen to decide to read the book, be sure to get the 2009 translation by Borde and Chevallier. If you don’t have time to read the entire book, read the last two chapters, pages 721-766.

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