Yesterday was International Women’s Day. I wrote my 5-year-old daughter a poignant note on the back of a watercolored card I painted for her, which said: “believe in your dreams.” Between my daily musings urging her to smile and be kind, I urged her to celebrate being a beautiful, smart little woman. Not because she is able to comprehend the power of womanhood now, but because one day, all my messages to her together may resonate loud enough to trump the other noise. However, when she came home inquisitive, asking more about the women’s celebration, my treasure of information to her was: “It’s like Mother’s Day for all women (not just mothers) around the world.”
We arrived in America in March 1979 and that March 8th was the last one we celebrated. My parents quickly adopted American Mother’s Day and threw away the communist calendar. But every year my father still said, “Happy March 8th” and I would get my mother American gifts on Mother’s Day. Now March 8th has become a woman’s movement.
A real feminist may have capitalized on this teachable moment and conveyed a heftier nugget of wisdom to my daughter, one woman to future one. But I’m not that woman. I’m the one who thinks of the perfect come-back after I say a stupid one first; I’m a shrimp-eating Jew, and I’m a non-Feminist, pro-woman, woman. In fact, feminism needs a rebrand (at least in my mind).
On matters of equality, the responsibility distribution regarding human reproduction is unbalanced, to say the least. (Newsflash: Biology is to blame for this one.) Let’s go beyond asking for equal rights; lets command for a women’s stipend to compensate for the whole 9 months of puking, followed by a body transformation involving invisible gravity chains pulling down your boobs and mysterious skin stretching in your belly area.
I love being a woman and have never felt my gender was a disadvantage. Growing up, my parents never suggested there was a career I couldn’t do because I was a woman. The only constraints or limitations on my life were the ones I placed on myself by my brain, not my XX chromosomes.
My parents raised me to value my voice, and with it, I found power. They were immigrants and used me as their non-accent message deliverer. I developed an articulate command of language and the confidence to ask for something if I felt entitled to it. Witnessing my parents’ hardships of immigrating to a new country in pursuit of freedoms natural-born Americans can take for granted taught me life values beyond gender equality.
I’m a womanist and a humanist but I’m not sure if I label myself a feminist. My life has let me try on many kinds of women’s hats and I liked them all when I wore them. I have been a single mom supporting my son while working a full-time corporate job and I have also happily stayed at home, raising my children while my husband served as the primary bread winner.
I shave my legs and color my hair. I changed my name for my first marriage and not my second. I don’t wear a bra and I am positively pro-choice. I like the option of photoshopping a pimple or under-eye circles because I avoid real botox. I like to wear uncomfortable lingerie for my husband but gave up the daily thong. I let my daughter dress up as a princess instead of initiating science experiments with her. I still prefer a man pays for dinner, holds the door, and buys me flowers.
HELL YES I’m for equal treatment based on gender, but physically and psychologically, men and women are different, so why insist we are equal? We pound our fists and stamp our feet and demand fairness. But guess what? Life is not fucking fair. It is gut-wrenchingly beautiful, temporary, and unpredictable and completely unfair – and the injustice goes far beyond a woman making 80 cents to a man’s dollar. Life is an equal-opportunity discriminator. You will find the love of your life and then kill him with cancer. You will get pregnant at the absolute wrong time and be infertile when your heart is open to life. We may choose to follow our dreams, but there may not be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Unfairness touches us all equally. Besides what’s in it for men to pay women what they’re actually worth when it would mean they’d end up with a smaller check?