Feminist Confessional

I can’t do car maintenance. Rosie the Riveter would blush for me. I want to be a strong, independent, modern woman in defiance of gender stereotypes, so I have tried but everything I learn about cars seems to leak out of me like oil or antifreeze or gasoline or whatever other kind of liquid leaks from cars. I wouldn’t know.  It’s not like I am competent to identify a fluid leaking from a car.

It is not that I am stupid.  In most ways, I am quite bright. I rock at standardized tests. Lucky for me, I have never encountered a car maintenance question on a standardized test.

When a car makes one of those telling noises that indicates a specific problem in some particular thingamabob, a whole bunch of males gather around the car’s open hood and grunt at it knowingly.  I back away.  Of course, I always suspected that half of the guys in that mob are just pretending to have a clue about what they are looking at in there but I have no way of testing my theory.  I am not qualified to judge.

During my college years, I was stranded on the road once when my car broke down.  I am ashamed to say that I handled the problem by standing there looking cute and helpless until some guy rescued me.

Which leads me to another feminist failing of mine:  I am romantically passive.  In this day and age, there is no reason why a woman should have to wait for a man to make the first move—except that I never wanted to make the first move. I really liked the old-fashioned system where men bother with asking women out, planning and paying for dates, and getting up the gumption to lean in and steal that first kiss.

Of course, now that I am married to a fine, mechanically-inclined husband, first moves are a thing of the past anyway and as a bonus, most of my car maintenance problems fall to an in-house expert who isn’t me.  Of course, no good feminist would excuse herself from learning a vital life skill like car maintenance because of something as irrelevant as the mechanical prowess of her husband.

Yet, just because I, personally, would never make it as an auto mechanic, doesn’t mean that I couldn’t demonstrate my feminism by competing with men professionally in some other field. As a young, feminist college student, I avoided nursing school because it was a stereotypically feminine profession and I wanted to prove that I could compete in the male-dominated professional world.  So I chose a different professional path, only to discover upon entering the workforce that I had placed myself in a different female-dominated profession. Note the extremely high ratio of women in this photo I took it at one of my business conferences.

2013-03-07 09.08.25 HDR

So there you have it.  I am a feminist who can’t defy gender stereotypes by fixing cars, indulges an outdated, demure attitude toward courting, and works in a female-dominated field instead of shattering the glass ceiling of some male corporate world.  Also, I’m Mormon. My husband suggests that I also add something about my squeamishness with regards to mousetraps but I think I will end this essay now while I still have a modicum of feminist dignity left.

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Podcast: Religious Feminism Podcast Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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3 Responses

  1. Jessawhy says:

    Great post, April! We all have ways in which we feel like we let down the feminist ideal. However, I think that means we are just people doing our best. My husband isn’t mechanically minded, so I’m in charge of hiring people to so car maintenance.

    The part of me that feels like I’m betraying feminism is the extent to which I try to conform to cultural beauty standards. It’s hard to get away from the pressure to do it all and look great at the same time.

  2. JSG says:

    It was my understanding that the base idea of feminism was that individual women should be free to pursue their own goals based off their individual talents, weaknesses and interests. The fact that some of your interests, weaknesses and talents are stereotypically feminine in no way undermines the fact that you are being true to yourself and feminism by following them.

    Although I believe I detect a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor in this post so you probably already knew that.

  3. Caroline says:

    Great post, April!

    I’m embarrassingly dependent on my husband when it comes to technology. There’s no excuse for it – I should learn how to figure out why the printer’s not working, etc. but it’s so much easier to ask him.

    I also generally conform to predominant beauty standards. One part of me wishes I didn’t — by conforming I’m making it that much harder for the next woman to not conform. But the other part of me does embrace the idea that feminism means being able to make choices about how to present myself.

    I also fall into female stereotypes in my nurturing style — lots of hugs, kisses, verbal affirmation, baby talk, etc. I’m the soft parent — not so much tough love from mom.

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