If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past week, you’ve probably already seen the Women Against Feminism tumblr going around, or at the very least read about it.
I didn’t think too much of it when I saw it, for two reasons. For one, most of the women had a tenuous grasp (at best) on the definition of feminism, one that seemed like it was informed in its entirety by Rush Limbaugh and Jessi Spano, and also the belief that “misandry” jokes are actually serious.
The other reason was that most of the “women” actually looked like teenage girls. Considering that I was super into Ayn Rand when I was a teenage girl, I can’t get too far up on my high horse with regards to the contributors. Let’s just say that if Tumblr was around in the late 1990s, I’m sure there’d be a photo of teenage me holding up a sign reading “A is A.”
Anyway, I was content to let the WAF Tumblr have its moment of ignominy before fizzling out like so many of the internet’s flash points of controversy, but then this post from Vice crossed my Facebook feed, which included the following image:
The part that jumped out at me is toward the bottom:
“Also how the f*@k am I supposed to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband? I am grateful for our differences!”
Uhhhhh, I have an idea as to how you might be able to accomplish those things without the help of your husband. I kind of write a whole fucking blog about it.
Allegra Ringo, who wrote the Vice post, points out that a lot of the submissions on the Tumblr have to do with opening jars:
A disquieting number of them simply need help opening jars. One woman does not need feminism for unstated reasons (but I think we can safely assume it’s related to jars). The jar problem is rampant enough that I’m a little worried these women have severe, undiagnosed muscular problems. Guys, please see a doctor. It can be a male doctor!
This must pose some real difficulties for the Women Against Feminism who do not live with men. Do they just avoid pickles and other jarred foods altogether? If a recipe calls for something in a jar, do they call a male friend to come over and open it? Or if said male friend is not available, do they go outside and ask the first man to open it for them? So many questions!
But seriously though, aside from the fact that jar-opening is such a pressing concern for the Women Against Feminism, one of the first things that struck me about this is how sad this is. I don’t mean that it’s sad that they can’t open their own jars; hell, I had to have Brian help me open a jar of artichoke hearts the other day. My grip strength isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, and that’s okay.
Rather, what makes me sad about it is that the Women Against Feminism purport to be against feminism because they love men so much, and yet like so many avowed anti-feminists, they seem to appreciate men for the functional roles they fulfill for the WAFs – as providers of paychecks, openers of jars, lifters of heavy shit – and not for the actual human beings they are.
A big part of the reason why I am a feminist is because I don’t want to relate to Brian simply as a provider of paychecks, an opener of jars, a lifter of heavy shit. I want to be able to help provide the paychecks. I want to be able to open my own jars, and open them for him too. I want to be able to help move the heavy sofa instead of sitting around watching him struggle on his own. I want to be his partner in our relationship, and for me that means pitching in and helping with everything, not just the tasks that don’t require a lot of muscle.
If you asked me to list the top million things I like about Brian, his ability to open jars and lift heavy things might show up somewhere in the 990,000s. Here are things that would show up long before: because he makes me laugh, because we have the best conversations over Sunday morning coffee, because I like the way he smells and the way the skin around his eyes crinkles when he smiles at me and the hair on the back of his hands, because he decided to read War and Peace this summer, because he picked out “The Punk Singer” for us to watch one night, because he does funny dances just to make me smile, because he has a way about him that makes people want to open up to him within hours of meeting him. There are so many things I love about my husband, and almost none of them have to do with his grip strength.
I think that if you talk to any of us straight-lady feminists, that’s all we want from our romantic relationships with men – to regard each others as equals, from a place of mutual respect and support, so that we can then like and love each other. Not just as a collection of stereotypes striving fruitlessly to meet impossible gender roles, but as human beings.