Sunday, June 15, 2008

Open Tent=Open Mind, Right? Wrong.

Some women just kinda decided that feminsm should become one of those invitations to a fifth-grade birthday party. You know, the ones your mother made you give out to everyone so that the paste-eaters, cootie-catchers, and kids with lesbian moms in your class wouldn't grow up to be 40-yr. old hermits talking to 14-year old girls online, only to re-emerge from their basements to go on a shotgun rampage at the post office because they're still angry they weren't invited?.

Apparently, Laura Bush got a wee bit tired of her prestigous First Lady duties of tea parties and shopping for badly tailored suits and thought (so she is capable of such a function? go figure.) that she would take up said invitation. "First lady Laura Bush identified herself as a 'feminist' on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos.."Ed O'Keefe writes in a 2006 article i stumbled upon. "A lot of what I do internationally does have to do with women's issues, with women's rights, with the education of women and girls," says Mrs. Bush.

Laura, honey. Sweetie. Sugar plum. You are not a feminist. You cannot serve the cookies and serve the cause. You cannot wear the apron and wear the pants. You cannot be June Cleaver and Gloria Steinem. People will laugh at you. Most importantly, i will laugh at you. This is the truth.

I can't imagine what catastrophe occured to make Laura decide to identify herself as a feminist. She broke a nail? Ann Taylor ran out of slingbacks in her size? She got into an argument with Bush? Ha!

Imagine this, seriously:

BUSH: Laura? Laura?!! How many times have i told you to handwash mah boxers!
LAURA: But, honey, we have people to do that for us, so i just figured our staff would--
BUSH: No! No staff! How many times have i told you, if you aint-a-workin, yur-a-washin?
LAURA: But i'm the First Lady, for godsakes!
BUSH: Exactly! What doya think that means? It means you aint got no job but ta' tend to my underrgarments. Thats what all the first ladies arre 'supposed to do! Nancy did it, my mama did it, Hillary did it! Now yur gonna do it! Ya hear me? Oh, and dont ya say God's name in vain! Ya know how much i hate that!
LAURA: George, honey, don't yell at me! I feel belittled!
BUSH: Dont be a-callin be George, from now on its "King George"...and what the hells 'belittle' mean? You been readin' again?! Stop usin' all them fancy words woman!
LAURA: I will not! And i will not take this abuse! I have been reading books, and they tell me that i'm special, and that i dont have to be married to someone who treats me like dirt! I'm becoming a feminist, you hear me! A feminist!!
BUSH: Oh, shut up and go get me a sandwich, woman.
LAURA: Sigh. Okay, honey. But then i'm becoming a feminist.

Reactions to Laura's political rebirth were somewhat mixed. Feministing ranted, "Hey Laura, if you’re really a feminist then why not tell hubby to stop rolling back women’s rights?" and "I'm sorry, but feminism just isn't for everybody."

Danelle Morton wrote a great piece about it, but kind of got off balance with: "I'm for Big Tent Feminism. Everyone welcome. places [the movement] back in the middle of things instead of remaining a small-scale interest of a few elite intellectuals."

This brings me around to my point: Feminism is not, and should not be, an Open Tent. Or a blanket invitation. There are basic rules, minimum requirements for anyone who dare bear the "F"-word: 1.) you cannot be, or be married to G. Bush. 2.) You must be pro-choice. 3.) You must believe in social, financial, educational, and political equalities for men and women. 4.) You may not be a housewife.

The last one will surely step on toes. But i dont believe any woman who calls herself a feminist and chooses to simply be married with children for her fullt-time job. To accept it as her identity. To live and die as Mrs. (fill and the blank). Elizabeth Wurtzel's Bitch nailed this home: "...Feminism demanded certain rights, and every woman who continues to live in a man's shadow is an affront to what few gains were made. It's not that a woman should be a self-sufficient person; it's that she must." and "Women who go out and make their own way in the world...are more important...women who get manicures all day are less important than women who write legal briefs."

Now, this doesn't necessarily mean i believe in Closed Tent feminism (if there is such a term), because i want it to grow and be adknowledged and relatable. But if we start to blur the lines that distinguish us as a movement, if we start to "accept" any and every ol' body, if we make one exception and then another and then another, what are we left with? The answer is: Nothing. We would be a bunch of women with mixed-up views and foggy intentions that are so unclear and uncertain, we'd forget what we were trying to do in the first place.

At some point you have to put up the velvet rope to this secret little club of ours. And what better person to start with than Mrs. Bush herself?