PerSisters Redux

The reason I was in Toronto on Saturday was for the official launch of Geez magazine’s PerSisters issue. I was asked to be on a panel with three other contributors that would discuss the intersection of feminism and theology with an audience. (You can see the article I contributed here.) We panelists were all given four questions to prepare:

1) Who are you and what did you write for this issue?
2) Do you call yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
3) Does the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was male make it inherently difficult, or even impossible, to ‘be Christian’ while working toward gender equality?
4) Is feminism a thing of the past? Should it be? Does it need to be rethought in some way?

These were all intriguing questions that certainly challenged me to articulate and provide supporting arguments for things that I often take for granted. Of course, I call myself a feminist, but it’s a lot harder when I’m actually forced to break it down and explain why.

The whole evening was extremely insightful. There wasn’t much debating going on since everyone there – female and male – would probably self-identify as a feminist, but hearing what people from different walks of life had to offer to the conversation was very helpful. It was the kind of event that triggers all kinds of additional questions, most of them without easy answers, but I suppose that’s part of being informed and educated about issues and feeling spurred on toward change. I left with a number of thoughts buzzing around my head.

1) What are feminists working toward nowadays? It was easy to rally support for tangible goals such as getting the vote and sexual liberation and being able to work outside the home, but what’s feminism’s common goal now?

2) How do you know when you’ve arrived? Women do hold positions of power nowadays, but at what point is a movement considered to have completed its mission? We still live in a world that sells pink LEGO to girls and makes fun of boys who play with dolls; that’s far from acceptable.

3) Why is it that some stay-at-home moms feel that we’re failing feminism? Even though we know that’s ridiculous. Stay-at-home moms deserve greater recognition and should be able to put those at-home years legitimately on a résumé.

photo: babble.com
This pic originally accompanied an article stating that stay-at-home moms are worth $118,000 a year for the work they do. (photo: babble.com)

4) Why don’t more parents split the breadwinning and parenting jobs equally? One woman spoke about her and her partner’s decision to share both jobs 50/50, which utterly floored me. I’ve always assumed that, if kids are kept home, then one parents puts the professional aspect of his or her life on hold to raise them full time. While splitting it 50/50 may not be feasible for everyone, I think it’s a brilliant idea.

Anyways, it was an interesting evening and one that I’ll be thinking about in the days to come. You’ll be hearing more about Geez in the months to come since my submission for their Redoing Schooling issue was accepted and will come out next month. It promises to be fascinating, all about the de-institutionalization of education… but more on that later.

Thoughts, anyone? Do share!

You might also like:
Our mother, who art in heaven
It’s time to go way beyond chivalry
So are YOU a feminist?

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5 thoughts on “PerSisters Redux

  1. What’s wrong with pink lego? Lots of people like pink. Yes, lots of them are little girls (but some are 50 year old men). Wouldn’t you like your toys to come in colours you like? think its great that they’re not just targeting boys. Besides, no girl who actually likes lego would limit herself to an entirely pink set. Pink lego is a gateway toy – to really awesome mechanical lego sets that mostly just come in black and grey anyway. Also, action figures are dolls.

    1. Nothing’s inherently wrong with pink lego. It’s just the explicit gender marketing that is irritating — the assumption that girls will only want to play with lego if it’s pink. And, more than likely, parents are not buying their sons pink lego but sticking with the ‘boy’ stuff. About the doll comment, I didn’t provide enough context. A woman at Saturday night’s discussion said she met a little boy who told her he has a doll who’s his son, but he doesn’t take him anywhere because people make fun of him for it. That’s what I was referring to and I think that’s wrong. Action figures are dolls, yes, but they’re expected for boys to play with. If a boy starts walking around with a swaddled cabbage patch doll, though, he’s teased. How sad.

  2. I find I am off-kilter if I’m not able to really nurture my family, but it’s hard to sing that out loud sometimes. But also, I think that as a woman, I’m sometimes more inclined to try to justify my choices and give explanations for them, when there is no need.
    And feminism – my goodness, there is such a long way to go. Pink lego and stuff doesn’t bother me per se (although the proliferation of plastic tat marketed towards our kids does). Violence against women, the media obsession with women’s appearance, the pornographic imagery that is now mainstream, the continued repression of women in some societies….bloody hell, the list goes on and on.
    You’re right about the myriad of questions and the difficulty in finding the answers!

    1. Hear, hear regarding all that plastic crap! I hate it when my kids get toys that are cheap plastic made in China and promptly break within hours of coming home. They go right back into the garbage (because recycling doesn’t accept them) and I feel awful. As for women feeling the need to justify our choices, that is so true and something I haven’t really thought about before. Very intriguing thought…

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