What is a feminist? Well, I guess there are a lot of definitions. Mine is that men and women are equal. Women can be as smart and competent as I am. When it comes to physical challenges, the average man might be able to beat the average woman. But, I by no means think that women are defenseless.
What would all this equality mean? A life where I don't have to pick up boxes, kill spiders, or pay for dates. It's a dream, but a dream that I think we can make true, after a series of my chauvinist jokes.
Anyway, today I taught about the state of women in the world. My students are awesome, but they were a little clueless when it came to the state of women, especially on a worldwide level. I don't think that they had discussions about this before, and if they did it was concentrated on the western/developed world.
Let's clear up some shit: I think Western women have a ton of power, especially if you want to enter the cult of domesticity. I love kids and volunteer at Planned Parenthood. However, women have way more authority over children and reproductive health issues than I do, because that is what gender norms dictate. If I play with a small child in the playground-it's creepy. A woman? Cute. Men can't express emotions, take paternal leave, or dance without judgment. Women get all that shit, and young childless women (my generation) make more than their male counterparts
However, if you look past the western world?
Women make up 50% of the world's population.
They earn less than 10% of the world's income.
They own less than 1% of the world's property.
25% will suffer with domestic violence.
Depressing shit, right? Today, my students and I had a discussion about these issues; we watched a UN film, we did some gender-related activities, it was a pretty good little session. The one question that I asked that got my students tongue-tied, "Were conditions better for women under communism?"
So, here's the thing: communism fucked up Eastern Europe. Walking around you can see the subtle effects that communism has left behind: the stares, the constant judgment, the fear to break free from the norms, the rigid adherence to rules, the horribly bureaucratic nature of everything...
But, under communism, men and women were equal. Women broke traditional gender roles and got "male" jobs. Women worked hard. Men worked hard. Everything was horrible and everyone suffered, but they all suffered equally. Now, whenever Western academics come into the scene we tend to forget about all of this past and equality, and force our ideas of gender equality onto the students.
In fact, some of the girls in my class made statements that literally made me twitch. I wanted to "correct" them, but they were just as right as I. American feminism isn't what is necessarily wanted in Hungary. Women had equal rights and are currently navigating their role in modern Hungarian society and joining the ranks of a globalized work force. Hopefully, this will evolve into equal pay, representation in government and STEM fields, and the other facets of "American" feminism. But, for now? If the girls want to be in the kitchen, cooking and raising kids? Go get it, ladies.