My Journey of Life and Learning (with occasional digressions)

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Gender Studies “Who I Am” Blog

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A classmate mentioned a test to measure your feminist perspective. I also took the “Feminist Perspective Scale” Test (http://personality-testing.info/tests/FPS.php) and I scored as a liberal feminist. Now, I believe I said in my introductory post that I try hard not to label others and resent labels that others place on me. In view of this test, maybe that’s part of my traits as a liberal feminist. I cannot really call myself a feminist. I don’t see myself walking up to a friend at Church (GASP – yes, I go to Church) and say, “Hi there, I’m Richard Matthews and I am a liberal feminist.” I also do not imagine that I would receive a warm welcome if I walked into a rally or demonstration protesting for LGBT equality or Abortion Rights and, sadly, that has nothing to do with how I feel about those issues. As a 51 year old, openly heterosexual man, I fear that I would be viewed more as “the problem” than as a person interested in protecting an individual’s right to use their body as they wish. I’ve gotten along well with most people I’ve met, but I have no desire, nor will I, put a rainbow sticker on my car. Nothing against those who do, I just don’t like bumper stickers.

What I have done in the past, and hope to do in the future, is advocate and support individuals who wish to live a life of their choosing, free of harassment, bullying, or oppression. I confronted people in the Army when they would make some comment about a soldier’s sexual orientation. Generally I would ask the person making the offending comment, “Are you gay?” They would respond, “No.” I would reply, “Then why does it matter if they are?”  I know that there is a difference between apathy, which some may say the above exchange shows, and actively struggling to change the system. I would address those doubting a woman’s abilities to perform a specific task, “Have you seen her do it before?” “No.” “Then how do you know she can’t?”

If I saw a young female being threatened and harassed at as she tried to cross a street to enter a Planned Parenthood center to obtain an abortion, I believe I would help her across the street for her safety. I belong to, and am very active, in my Church which has very strict anti-abortion views. I do not agree with abortion, but I believe a person has their individual right to decide and I further believe that in a country where we have advanced medicine that it is unconscionable that a woman should not be allowed to have the procedure done in a safe, sterile environment. In Germany, I visited a “Crime Museum.” One room was dedicated to “abortion methods” because the procedure was long outlawed. The instruments I saw and descriptions of some procedures brought me to tears and I swore I would never fault a woman for seeking a medical abortion again, whether I found the idea of abortion distasteful or not.

I have never understood how or why companies have a “pay disparity” between employees of different sexes or races. At the same time, however, I have never really worked in “corporate America.” In the military, pay was the same regardless of gender. As a military contractor we were not allowed to discuss our pay with others.

Toril Moi states, “The new field of feminist literary studies is here presented as one essentially concerned with nurturing personal growth and raising the individual consciousness by linking literature to life, particularly to the lived experience of the reader” (42). In that vein, everyone is a feminist. The challenge is recognizing that each of us, as readers, have “lived experience.” Each of our views are as valid, important and necessary as the view of any other, even one historically classified as “the patriarchy.” To deny any one their voice makes feminism a movement of hypocrites, and with so much needed to be said we cannot afford to deny any voice.

Let me summarize who I am. I am me. My childhood was stable, my family showed much love. If there was ever abuse anywhere among aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, I never knew of it. In our neighborhood, we knew of couples who abused each other and we distanced ourselves from them. My parents let me explore my ideas and discussed them with me. I was never told I “had to do this” or “had to do that” because I was a boy. My brothers encouraged me to play sports, but they were so much older than I that they would become impatient when I couldn’t hit the baseball hard enough or run fast enough. My brothers and I were always expected to show Mother respect just as Father did and we still show them respect when we see them. My first wife and I raised two children who are quite happy with who they are, as are their respective spouses. I know we have a blog coming up on parenting, so I won’t go there now.

That’s who I am. I am not ashamed. I have not harmed anyone by being who I am. I have rarely been harmed by others being who they are. I love and adore my second wife. My first wife chose to leave our relationship and that is part of her right to define who she is. My Church provides me guidelines, but I am free to choose my actions. I provide quite a bit of service to members in my Church, so see families and individuals who suffer with abuse, neglect, sickness, and bad habits. I love them each, but they are who they are and I can only make suggestions, not change them. Change comes from within. And that is a discussion for a different forum. I think I’ll put it on my blog: richlynnmatt.com. 

Since this isn’t on my school blog, I feel it appropriate to share an excerpt from a talk given by Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of the people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 6).

 

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