My greatest qualm however was probably that, from my perspective, women had it just as good if not better than men. The girls and women I knew seemed just as happy as the guys. My school chums that were girls typically did better academically than the boys. Girls didn't have to worry asking boys out on dates or being the initiator for any of that horrible social awkwardness but rather they were pursued! The worries of future career and jobs were not as present for gals because I knew many of them would grow up and be stay at home moms...living the sweet life. Time went by and I carried these perspectives into my 20's.
Fortunately things change. I began to read books with characters that were not wizards and dragons and follow news other than that of the local variety. My first best friend that was not the same sex came along and with her unique and new conversations. College and education has a way of opening your mind and eyes to the world outside your own, some might say this is a liberalizing experience. All of these forces came together and I underwent a paradigm shift. I now very much consider myself a feminist and this springs from the compassionate heart that both my Christian and Buddhist practices instill in me. The ability to forget myself and look for the suffering in others.
I recently had the opportunity in my capacity as a middle school counselor to go around and speak with students about the power of words. To kind of kick of the meat of the lesson we watched an anti-bully video where a girl was texted "you ugly bitch." I then asked the student if any of them had heard that word used at school. Every single kid always raised their hands. I would then ask in the last week? Today!? Most would still have their hands up. We then talked about these negative powerful words and even wrote them on the board in every class. One thing that I began to notice is the amount of hurtful words used in this very wealthy Mormon middle school directed toward girls far outweighed those toward boys or even gender neutral! Scary stuff.
Stay tuned for Women: Part II next post where I'll go into greater depth with the possible problems and solutions. Please share comments, insights, questions, criticisms!