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Nothing to be ashamed of, Nora!

Nothing to be ashamed of, Nora!

My formative university years were in the early 1990s, the height of political correctness. It was a time filled with furious debates over history vs. herstory, campus safety (the University of Windsor instituted walk safe programs and considered removing hedges and shrubs since attackers could hide behind them), and heated discussions about womyn, wommin, and wimmin.

As a young man it was a challenging but rewarding time: my assumptions were being questioned constantly, but for those willing to keep an open mind, it felt like we were changing the world, one attitude and even one word at a time.

Feminism predated us, and in fact we were merely the “third wave” after the first wave of suffragists and the second wave who were focused on sexuality and reproductive rights, but the struggle was nonetheless vital.

Given how the word “feminism” seems to have once again become a dirty word with so many young people today, you may ask me if I, as a man, considered myself a feminist. I did, and still do, even if I don’t shout it from the rooftops. Based on my coming to maturity in the linguistically-fraught days of the early 1990s, I’m hyper-sensitive to the power of words and the idea that people define themselves and their community by the power of language. I still cringe when I hear someone calling an adult woman “girl.”

It may not be up to me to decide whether I’m a feminist or not. I try to, and I hope that I can live up to the expectations of the label, but I’ll let others make the call.

In order to help make my case, though, I offer this: I also feel bad about Nora Ephron’s neck.

To be clear, it was a perfectly fine, perfectly ordinary neck, particularly for a woman of her age and background. I have nothing against her neck. But I feel bad that she felt bad about it, and that society made her feel bad about it.

As a white male, I’ve never felt bad about my own neck. To be honest, I’ve never given it much thought. Why should I? Society doesn’t really judge me on my looks, at least not in the pernicious way that it judges women. Even if I had an Ephronesque turkey wattle neck, now or in the future, it won’t really affect anything in my life. If I’m lucky enough to be considered handsome, having an ugly neck will be overlooked, and if I’m considered unattractive, I’m sure that my neck will have very little to do with that.

Those are the benefits of being a white male in a society that is still dominated by white males, no matter what Fox News and Ezra Levant might try to tell you. Who the hell cares what my neck looks like?

But being immune to society’s judgement based on the luck of my birth as a white male in the greatest ever time to be a white male ever doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy for those who are judged by the society that my type dominates. I do have empathy, for Nora Ephron’s neck, for Oprah’s struggle with her weight, and for so many other of the prejudices that women must fight against in this world.

That’s why I’m a feminist. If you’ll allow me to be, that is.

From my upcoming series of picture books designed to introduce children to the great artists of the past:

  • Modigliani, Mo’ Problems
  • Step on the Gas, Degas!
  • Too Many Manet to Manage

I’ve recently invested in a new restaurant with an Classic Movie Western theme. On the weekends, from 10am to 2pm, we feature The Wild Brunch, and dishes include:

  • The Ox-Tail Soup Incident
  • Once Upon a Time in the Water Cress Sandwich
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Paté

 

 

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