A friend recently made an excellent point that the answer to a society that undervalues women is not to undervalue men. I agree completely, and it is probably the main reason I don't really see myself as a feminist. Of course not all who identify as such are man bashers. . . in fact, probably most aren't. But it is still there, and was a strong element in starting the movement.
I've been thinking about my friend's comment this week as I've thought about feminism, because I don't want to be one of those kind of women. Then I heard a line in a movie the other night that kind of put it into perspective for me. The movie was Eat, Pray, Love, and it was rather marginal. However, there is a really great line in it that has stuck with me. The main character, Liz (Julia Roberts) is traveling the world to find solace after a divorce and then an ugly relationship. Everywhere she goes people tell her she needs somebody in her life (male, of course) and she just wants to find her center. In the last place she travels to--Bali--she finally does meet THE guy. She just doesn't realize it. Somebody else tells her that he is the one (while he is standing there). As they walk away she says, rather rhetorically, "Why does everyone think I need a man!?!" It is unclear whether or not she hears his reply, but he says, "You don't need a man, Liz. You need a champion."
What a line.
So, in fairness to the many wonderful men I have met in my life. I'm going to take a moment on this Christmas Eve Eve to pay tribute to my champions.
Friends. I have been fortunate to have many close male friends over the years. This is probably because nobody ever really wanted to date me. It is interesting that something that always seemed like such a curse to me, turned out to be such a blessing. If I had dated these wonderful friends who traveled in and out of my life, I would be truly bereft when they were gone. Instead, I am able to look back with joy on their influence and recognize it as being truly powerful. These friends were my champions because I always felt on equal footing with them. Sometimes that meant cooperation. Sometimes it meant competition. Sometimes it meant that their strengths compensated for my weakness and vice versa. From so many remarkable male friends I learned the power of leaving drama out of friendships; I learned about how men think; I learned about the power of serving a mission; I learned about balance; I learned that the best way for love to grow is to cultivate it in the soil of friendship. It is true that in the years since high school and college these friendships have, of necessity, waned. Married people must always be careful. But these wonderful men from my past taught me that I was looking for a husband to be a true friend who would pull with me. But more about him in a moment.
My Dad. My dad and I have often been at odds. Tonight is a perfect example. We clashed about gun control. We are finally in a place where we got past the clash, however, to have a conversation. We didn't leave it anger the way we have before and even found lots of ground for agreement. If only national politics were so easy! But the championing part came in something that happened earlier tonight. I mentioned that my dream job was open right now at Utah State. I described it to my dad and he said, "Why don't you apply?" Well, besides the fact that I'm probably woefully under-qualified, my husband happens to have a very good job in OREGON right now. He must have read the incredulous look on my face and said, "Apply! We can find Plantboy a job here." Just like that. No question that my career might be every bit as important as my husband's. When I grew up there was never a suggestion that I wouldn't be able to do whatever I chose to do. Being a woman had nothing to do with it. I can attribute my feminism, such as it is, to my dad as well as my mom.
My husband. I am so blessed to have married a man who is my best friend and biggest champion. It doesn't matter what endeavor we are in, Plantboy respects (and often defers to) my opinion, my wishes, and my wants. He usually knows what is better for me than I do myself. He speaks for me when I have a hard time putting my feelings in to words and solutions. If something happened to Plantboy remarriage would be almost impossible. You see, I'd be fearful fo being stuck with a man, when what every woman needs is a champion.
This holiday season I'm grateful for so much . . . but at the moment I'm especially grateful for my champions.