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Learning to love the other 'F word'

The older I get, the more of a feminist I become.

Yes. I said it. The F-word.

How did this become a term of less-than-endearment anyway? What is it about stating you're pro-female that makes some folks think you'd support a gender jihad?

"Why do you hate men?" they ask.

Before the fellas get their tighties in a twist, let me assure them some of the most staunch feminists I've known were male. And, for the record, I've nothing against guys. Love them. Don't know what I'd do without the XY chromosome. In fact, in my early tomboy years, I actually wanted to relinquish my double-X designation.

Detesting dolls, dresses and all things girly, I'd hop into my red cowboy boots, drag out my dad's wooden sawhorse and ride off into the West. But never as the victimized pioneer's bride, dance hall gal or Indian maiden. No ma'am. Color me in the thick of the shoot-'em-up action in the western hemisphere of my imagination.

I'm pretty sure I have Dad to thank for that. While Mom had a soft spot for protecting male egos, Dad believed I shouldn't stand on the sidelines so some fellow could feel like a hero.

A child of the '60s, I was too young to participate in the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll revolution. But bloody scenes from the Vietnam War — and its increasingly vocal and violent protests — are forever etched in my psyche.

As are the hordes of angry-looking women featured on the nightly news. Fed up with standing on the sidelines of power — in the classrooms, bedrooms, board rooms or political back rooms — women were burning their bras, discovering the Pill and demanding their due.

It wasn't always a pretty sight. But "pretty" wasn't the goal. In fact, "pretty" was the enemy of the freedom being sought. Pretty meant bondage. And not in the fun way.

Aaaack! Hold the presses. You may not believe this, but a fellow columnist just opined that our nation lost its collective mind when it granted women the right to vote. Excuse me while I pummel the towheaded little twerp into a better appreciation of his feminine side. Or at least my feminine right — jab, that is.

OK. I'm back. Turns out he was only kidding. Or maybe pain really does elicit unreliable confessions.

Where was I? Oh yes. The power of being female. Today's story on Page 1A about the Applegate Valley women who banded together to create a labor-sharing cooperative denotes the best of modern feminism. These gals don't eschew males or their manly help. They simply don't want to stand on the sidelines of their lives waiting for some man to ride to the rescue. And after the chores are done, they want to sit around and eat a nice meal and sip a good glass of wine.

When I hung back, simpering about not feeling comfortable joining in on their post-work lunch, they didn't respond with Emily Post platitudes. They cut to the chase. "Sanne, sit. Don't be weird," they said.

I sat. I ate. I can't help the weird part, but I had a grand time. Because there's something very cool about coming to appreciate yourself as a W-O-M-A-N, especially in the company of a sisterhood.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.