Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Monday, June 1, 2015

5/31/15 RMB Equalists

5/31/15 RMB Equalists

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
My enlightened editor friend, Jennifer Silva Redmond participated in a challenge to write something about “A feminist perspective on masculinity in the 21st century.” Her response, titled “Man up?”, can be read here

Ever the editor, JSR mentions that the goal of a feminist is equality, so therefore equalist seems a fitting term. It sounded like a great idea, then I let it sink in and looked deeper. 

What is on the surface is often vastly different from all that is hidden below. When you lift the label, feminist, equality is one among the many elements meshed within layers of personalities, strengths, possibilities and even a few weaknesses.

I’m not convinced that feminism is a call for absolute equality in every conceivable way. It is a call to be heard, no doubt. It is a call for fairness, absolutely. Similarly, I don’t think machismo necessarily represents a force overpowering women. 

Those represented by each label are reaching for something that no one can clearly define. It is the awareness of being an individual, respected for one’s unique qualities, while still being recognized as feminine or masculine, or both to various degrees.

Can we someday consider strength as a human trait rather than a masculine one? Can gentleness be universal and not necessarily feminine? Yes, we are headed in that direction. But the phrase, “all things being equal” among men and women? Does either gender want to lose that which distinguishes them from the other?

Here is where it gets tricky. If it is not strength, nor gentleness, nor anything we have labeled and categorized, which distinguishes one gender from the other, then what is it?

History and language define some items as male or female. Mediums can often relay if they are communicating with a male or female entity. Some mothers can sense if it is a male or female growing within them. Sometimes we are fooled, for instance by female traits in a male body or vice versa. But those traits exist, regardless of the anatomy. Masculine and feminine exist in both genders, and apparently even in everyday objects. 

So when the day comes that we honor strength for strength and gentleness for gentleness, regardless of who carries that quality, I hope that we have become more than equalists. We do not see feminine, nor masculine at this stage of our development, so we fall back on descriptions of traits. 

Is there a point in our future where the essence of feminine and masculine are understood enough to be honored as their own concepts, regardless of the gender that carries them?

Just wondering,


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