The Difference Between Feminism and Good Manners

I identify myself as a feminist. Feminism has gotten a bad rap over the last 30 years and now the mental image connected with that word is somewhere around a man-hating-militant-beast. I can assure you I am none of those things. I don’t have penis envy, I have wallet envy. In my world, feminism is the thought that women and men should be treated equal on all levels. I married a man with whom I am equal. If we have established gender roles, such as, he works while I take care of the children that is not because I am less of a person in our relationship, it is because it makes financial sense.

This morning I needed to go grocery shopping. Of course it was raining because, you know, Mother Nature is a feminist too. Obviously… no one gets a free ride around here. I was walking from my car holding an umbrella, my 20 pound baby (in his car carrier), and the hand of my 3-year-old. As I approached the store entrance there was a man, around the age of 60, standing by the door, staring at me. My assumption, as a member of the human-fucking-race was that this other member of the human race would open the door for me… note-to-self: don’t ever assume anything. He did not. He just stood there. As I went to place my baby carrier on the ground, in the rain, I muttered something along the lines of, “Thanks for grabbing the door.” to which this Archie Bunker impersonator replied, “I thought y’all ladies didn’t want doors opened for ya anymore.”

Touché Archie. Touché. I don’t want you to open a door for me because I’m a lady. You would offer to open the door because I was struggling, and having good-manners isn’t about what you are packing in your pants, it’s about common decency.

When women decided to ask for the same rights as men, sadly, some men took that as if we didn’t want them to have good manners at all anymore. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Now I’m raising 3 sons, and teaching them there is a difference between rescuing the princess and just being kind to your fellow-man, is the most important lesson they will ever need to know. Human decency didn’t have to go out the window with the suffrage movement and I don’t care if it’s an old lady or a big strapping guy, if you get to the damn-door first you hold that sucker open, because that’s just good manners.

My kids might be assclowns… they might fart on each other’s heads, never put the toilet seat down, always forget their lunch bags at school, play too much Minecraft, sing Gangnam Style at the drop of a hat, have a full glossary of words that they shouldn’t have, and fight me tooth-and-nail over meals, but they will be assclowns that know to offer help to someone who needs it.

My kind of assclowns.

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The Books

 

This morning the baby and I had to go to our local Barnes and Noble (something I don’t do nearly often enough) to get a birthday gift for my nephew. As I walked into the large building I was transported back to my childhood summers. Spent with a weekly trip to the local library because I loved to read and my parents wanted to instill the love of reading in us. Each summer they threw down the gauntlet and issued us a challenge… read 10 books over the summer and write a report on each and they would reward us with a trip to Great Adventure.

In today’s society this might not seem like a huge deal. Summer vacations are the norm now, which can sometimes cheapen the actual monstrosity that planning and executing a vacation is to parents. But for me, in my childhood, summer was spent at the beach or camp and a vacation (especially to an amusement park) was a major deal. I’m thinking that along with the Minecraft book he wants, maybe I’ll also get my little brother’s son his first Harry Potter book for his birthday. A reading-right-of-passage for sure.

As I’m standing in this bookstore I could feel that feeling…  exactly the same way as when I was a kid. All of the stories that live inside these pages, all of them at my fingertips, the choices… it’s one of the most exciting adventures you could go on. The written word is indeed powerful and storytelling is an art. The fact that someone can paint a picture with their words and allow you to step into the world they created is the ultimate fantasy. I think we all need a bit of fantasy in our lives. It helps to keep up with all the mundane bullshit. We all have things we “have” to do… a small escape can be the difference between enjoying the ride or dreading the journey.

I love technology. I love the practicality it brings to my already cluttered life. But I will never love an e-reader the way I love holding an actual book in my hands. Just feeling the pages in my fingers and the weight of its spine… No Nook could ever replace an actual book to me.

This makes me think about the summer I was 12 years old and my Mother introduced me to the Thorn Birds. I was a confused tween who felt like every adult (especially my parents) had it in for me. Reading that book, knowing how much my Mother had enjoyed it too, felt like I had been indoctrinated into a secret society. One where we had something in common other than our DNA. It was a marvelous feeling that makes me always appreciate when my Mother points me in the direction of what she thinks is a good read. I must hand it to her, she has never given me a bad book. Wurhering Heights, Anne of Green Gables, Beach Music. Mama’s got skills that rival the New York Times Bestseller list.

While all the promise of the bookstore is laying right in front of me along with the joy when I realize I actually have time to browse, I am brought back to the real world from my amazing trip down memory lane by a 19-year-old kid with dyed, jet black hair, skinny jeans and boots on in the middle of Florida summer…

“Hello… {while shaking his head}”

Um, yeah Hi. {I smile, what does this kid want?}

“Could you move your stroller? {Then mutters under his breath} Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been somewhere else…

As I move my stroller out of his way he reaches over to grab a skull and crossbones patterned case for his Nook and walks off saying to his friend… “I swear, these Moms act like they own the place. Let’s go get a latte.”

Back to reality.

I doubt he knows where to find the Harry Potter.