Imagine Susan B. Anthony's surprise upon waking up in the 21st century (suspended disbelief people, work with me here) to a world of gender equality, where both sexes enjoy the freedoms and opportunities afforded them by virtue of their innate dignity as human persons.
How astonished might this champion of women's rights be to find a world where men and women are at last enjoying equal rights, equivalent pay scales, and educational opportunities not contingent upon gender?
As long as Susan doesn't venture into a doctor's office, she'll probably be pretty content with the current state of affairs. Because femininity is at long last being recognized and celebrated as something good, something beautiful, in fact. It's no longer a crime to be born a woman, (unless, of course, you're in China) in fact it's advantageous in many ways.
You see, women were once labelled as being weak, overly emotional, sensitive, innocent, gentle... along with a whole host of other pejorative terms. But all that's changed now, we've wised up as a species, and now we recognize the unique gifts and capabilities of both genders, embracing our similarities and our differences. Right?
I would argue otherwise. You see, what we often mistake for equality is really closer to assimilation in disguise. Women as individuals certainly enjoy vastly superior civil rights than our sisters of 400 years ago, but are women as women, and not merely as androgynous citizens, truly being afforded real dignity? I mean, tolerance is one thing, but it's quite different from an open-armed acceptance and embrace. I tolerate irritating TV commercials or prying questions from distant relations at perfunctory family gatherings. I accept the love of a friend, a dinner invitation to a lovely restaurant, or a gift from my mom. See the difference?
So women, do you feel accepted, truly welcomed and affirmed as you are, without alteration, or is tolerance more the order of the day? Is it okay to be woman? To be moved to tears by an other's suffering? To love what is beautiful and to desire to clothe oneself in beauty? To menstruate and ovulate? These are unarguably and innate feminine qualities. And guess what ladies, the last one is exclusively feminine. Belonging uniquely to the fairer sex.
But oh, it's inconvenient. We're inconvenient, with our mood swings and our hormonal surges and our propensity for pregnancy... We are inconvenient. And something must be done about it.
And something has been done. A pill, a patch, a shot, a surgery... take your pick, there must be 50 ways to spay your lover.
Just so long as we're not inconveniencing anyone.