Hi. I’m Owlolive. We don’t know each other. In fact, I personally know very little about you. All I know is that you’re a married woman who lives and works in Kuwait but was born and raised in London to Anglo-Francophone parents, went to Oxford, and have recently converted to Islam. You’ve given me your full name but I honestly didn’t have the interest to Google you. I don’t know very much about what you’ve gone through in your life, how you came to Islam, how old you are, or really anything that could substantially allow me to lay claims on your character as a full person. You don’t know any of these things about me either but, for whatever reason, that didn’t stop you from repeatedly calling me such things as bitter and selfish, and equating me with one of the most disgustingly brutal and racist political movements the world has ever known: Nazism.
Thank you, L. You’ve honestly given me a true gift: that of the articulate, succinct example of everything that has ever been wrong in every society to ever exist on this earth. Really, I must thank you. Because now I get to use you and your incredibly articulate diatribe against “FEMINAZIS”–Which, by the way, is the most original and ingenious feminist insult I have ever heard. Way to dip into the platitudes!–as an example of all the horrible things that have ever been flung at me for being an outright and outspoken feminist. This is not a blasting of you, dear L., but merely a chance I couldn’t pass up to publicly respond to everyone who has ever harassed me with emails and comments such as yours.
I won’t be responding to every single thing in your email because that could literally take a century and a half to do, but I will provide a copy of your email for everyone to read so that no one will think I am taking anything out of context.
This society that you hate so much is the reason why a woman in an Arab country will feel ten times as valued and respected than in any less traditional society around the world. That’s because tradition is about respect. It is about not harming or hurting others, especially those who are more vulnerable than you. It is about putting other people first and serving others often in a heroic or courageous manner. It is about being polite and courteous. In other words, tradition teaches men how to treat women with the honor and class that every woman deserves. Yet feminists like you don’t want that? The truth is you are covering up your bitterness with words like equality, but what you really want is for other women to not enjoy what you also haven’t enjoyed. This is why I always say that feminists want men to treat women like equals and normal women want men to treat women like ladies.
Okay, I’m sorry but… YEKH. That last sentence just made me want to take a shower/never use the word “ladies” ever again. But, you know, I’m really not against your points in principle. I think valuing and protecting other people is a great thing. I am totally down with this idea. But what makes a woman more “valuable” and “vulnerable” than a man? What, exactly, is a man protecting? Now, see, whenever I ask these kinds of questions people find themselves in a dangerous, vulnerable position, because they start blathering on about a woman’s ‘purity’ and her ‘modesty’ and making blatant assumptions that women, by mere virtue of the fact that they have a uterus, cannot protect themselves or act as they wish. This traditional concept doesn’t see women as adult, capable people but as objects to be lusted after/ruined or protected. Which is, you know, bad because women are not objects.
Now, I will bet all my Hungry Bunny birthday party VHS tapes that you and other possibly well-meaning people like you have stopped reading at this point and are furiously fuming with thoughts like: “So you’re saying that a man should spit in your face instead of open doors for you?? Is that what you want?!” or “THESE STUPID BITTER FEMINAZIS ARE RUINING OUR CULTURE!!”
No. All I am saying–all I’ve been saying since I started this blog–is that words like “tradition” and “chivalry” are sexist in nature and that they should be replaced with words like “politeness” and “decency.” Because all of those qualities of male ‘tradition’ that you described up there don’t belong to a single gender. Both men and women can and should be all of those things. But you’re making it sound like only a man can embody those attributes (or embody them well) and that all women need to give all men a Special Cool Dude award just for being polite and nice as all humans should be.
I think its good for a woman to be successful and I also think that many traditional men appreciate and respect a hardworking woman. At the same time I think that there’s nothing wrong with a traditional man wanting to be the main breadwinner and that there is definitely nothing wrong for a man to want to take care of a woman and provide for her. Its not okay for a woman to make a man feel less than a man because she’s so goal-oriented that she destroys her family and disregards his feelings, which are valid. Success is fine but not too much success.
How can you write that? Like, as a woman? How can you write that??? I honestly want to know here. “Success is fine but not too much success(?)” Are you serious with that? I mean, you can’t get anymore obvious. What you’re trying to tell me about women here—very clearly—is that a woman doesn’t matter as a full person. What she may or may not want is not important. All she ever needs to do is strive just enough to unlock the “husband” achievement and then she should get down to her real purpose in life: making one horrible dude’s ego feel better about itself all the time. I mean, call me crazy, but intentionally saying that women should stunt their intellectual growth for the sake of some imaginary man is some truly messed up crap. Spin it for me. Figure out a way to make it okay. Please.
I, personally, had the luxury of growing up in a household where there was never a question that I could achieve real, meaningful purpose in my life. And now, on this blog, I get to speak to the entire world about things that matter to me–that’s the whole freaking slogan! I have a profession where I feel like I make a difference, a profession I can care about. I’ve never felt anything quite like the fulfillment I get from my writing. But you’re saying that if any woman (like me or otherwise) wants a man then we have to give that up. We shouldn’t be too successful because, at the end of the day, ‘success’ is a male domain, right?
And, in case you think I’m some bitter ugly chick who’s publicly blasting you because I’ve got a dog in this fight (or maybe I AM the dog! Come on, I’m giving you that one. Take it!), I guess you’d actually be kind of right. I’ve never had the chance to be what society would consider a “hot blonde” or any similar equivalent. I simply have never known what that kind of universal approval feels like. But I would never trade that in for what I have had and known–which is the opportunity and support and the drive to attempt to live out my full potential as a complete human being. Of course, hot blondes can absolutely do that too, and they do. But your opinion and that of all the ‘traditional’ people like you is that women have to give up one for the other. That we should just jump ship at “hot blonde” for our own good before we start to scare off men’s egos with our giant brains. I’m sorry, but that just makes people’s lives worse.
And, woman to woman? It makes women’s lives worse.
So yes, you’re right, I am being selfish here. But it’s not because I’m not a “hot blonde” (anyway, I’m taken already, nor am I interested in the traditionally ego-tripped knights to which you refer). I’m selfish because the only kinds of men or women I ever want to be around are real men and women. Those kinds of people enrich my life, and I selfishly want that enrichment. When you tell both men and women to define themselves based on archaic and random standards of what they can and can’t be, you don’t wind up with those kinds of enriching people. You wind up with brainless zombies who, at the very best, view women as swan-like, child fairies and men as monstrous, testosterone-driven bulldogs.
And you don’t really believe that about men or women, do you L.? I bet you don’t.
All my love!