If a man takes his hat off and stands when he meets me, I am not lessened as a woman. I am elevated as a person.
Several months ago, Bill and I had finished up one of those long days of working cattle. I don’t remember exactly what it involved, but it was around 6:00 or 7:00 that evening when we finally got back home. When we walked up to the house, Bill just stepped up and opened the gate for me, as he always does. That small, automatic courtesy from Bill on that particular day really made me think about the feminism movement we see around us.
I looked up the term “Feminism” and found that most definitions read something like “Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” I’m good with that and on that day – and every other day of my life – I am an example of that definition. I did what needed to be done, right next to Bill or whomever might be helping us on any give day – man or woman. I got the same pay as Bill, which was nothing since they are my cattle, too. But, nowhere in that definition, is the term “CULTURAL equality.” Thank goodness!
Our culture has traditionally taught boys to be polite and respectful of women, opening doors for them, carrying heavy packages for them, etc. And, women, out of respect to those teachings, were taught to be graceful and appreciative of those actions. Our world seems to have been brainwashed everyone to believe that equality in the workplace and political realm, should transcend to all areas of life. I think that is going too far!
Feminism means equality and that also includes how we choose to see ourselves. When I titled this blog, I thought to myself, ” Oh, dear, shouldn’t I just call myself a Rancher and not a Rancher’s Wife? Will some women take offense and consider that demeaning?” Well, for me, I see myself as a Rancher’s wife — I am here to do whatever needs to be done and help Bill with the work and decisions, but I don’t take the lead, when it comes to the ranch and cattle and that’s good with me. In other situations, a woman may see herself as “the Rancher” and there may come a time when a “Rancher’s Wife,” like myself, might find herself changing her role/title, as well.
I guess I would like to think that, in our “Agricultural World”, we have been supporting the true meaning of Feminism for generations. Just like men, women are often found in what society might view as “non-traditional” roles. They might find themselves in a position that maybe they didn’t particularly want, but one they have accepted and find that they can do that job and do it well. Women may intentionally make a career choice to step into a role, traditionally held by a man. In my world of ranching and farming, we see both situations quite often, and I never given it much thought except to just admire those ladies who have taken on a different and much bigger role than I might want to take on. Feminism simply means giving women the opportunity, respect and support to do whatever job they choose to do and not discriminating against them because of their gender. I also believe that women should treat men in the same manner – with respect and support, in whatever ways their paths and roles may cross in life.
I was not raised on a ranch or farm, but I had two parents who taught me that women CAN do whatever they want to do and SHOULD do whatever needs to be done. My sister, brother and I always had to help both my dad and my mom, with chores in and out of the house. I remember one morning, around 6:00 am, we were on top of the roof, nailing asphalt shingles. My sister was complaining a little, saying “we were the only girls in town that had to be on a roof, doing this.” My dad’s response was, basically, that we were lucky in that we now knew how to do something the other girls didn’t. Well, Dad, thank you for that! And, on the flip side, every morning after breakfast, my dad cleaned the kitchen, along with one of us three kids, including my brother. (We had weeks of “kitchen duty” and that is where I learned the art of bargaining, but that’s a story for another time!)
Now, going back to my original view of my role on the ranch and as a woman. I am a Feminist! I support and demonstrate that equality each and every day. We just need to remember that supporting the concept of Feminism doesn’t mean that we should discard those small courtesies that our culture has traditionally used to acknowledge the differences between men and women. We must continue to teach our children the traditional roles of courtesy and respect. If a man takes his hat off and stands when he meets me, I am not lessened as a woman. I am elevated, as a person. Our children, and the rest of society, need to see those courtesies as a sign a respect and nothing more. Men, keep them up! And, Women, accept them with appreciation!
To sum it up, I am a feminist! I want to be viewed as someone who can work alongside a man and hold my own; I want to be appreciated for my viewpoints as well as my work; I want to be respected for my willingness to do what needs to be done. And, at the end of the day, I still want the door held open for me.