Tue 23 Aug 2011
I don’t usually get political and ranty here, but this post has me all riled up. It’s a continuing theme that has emerged so many times that it’s time to talk about it. So here I am, mounting my soap box.
The fact that I am a feminist does not mean that I cannot be a woman.
I have a right to be girly. I have a right to be butch. I have a right to wear long skirts and high heeled shoes, makeup and fake eyelashes if I want. I have a right not to.
Every time a feminist undermines another woman’s right to be herself, she pulls the rug from under her own cause. She tears down the very foundations of the ideals that she is proclaiming. She says to be a feminist – but for God’s sake don’t be girly. Be a woman, by pretending to be a man.
You know what? That’s not enough for me. That’s not what my grandmothers and my mother and my sisters in feminism fought for. They fought for the right to exist, as we are, and to be treated as equals. And that applies whether or not you choose to wield pointy sticks and bake cupcakes.
Twice my spinning group was hosted by a very nice woman who did not spin. Twice she made loud comments about not being “domestic.” But the way she said it, she meant domesticated, in that particularly sneering way that comes from a certain type of feminist when discussing those of us who choose to create beauty, meaning, and physical representations of love through our craft. I bit my tongue out of politeness and turned my cheek to her ignorance. But let me tell you, no one in that room was domesticated. Domesticated is for cats, not for women (and even cats defy the term).
More than half of the women in that particular group hold advanced degrees in science and technology. Or law. One is an editor. Most of us are highly educated and career-oriented. All of us are brilliant women who are smart enough to know that what you do with your spare time has nothing to do with whether or not you command respect.
And I think that that is more powerful. I think it means more to be able to do what you choose without caring how others will see it. To me, it is time to relinquish the old aggressive feminism that defines us by what we are not, in favor of the progressive feminism that allows us to be who we are.
We are women. We are leaders. We are successful, and we are determined to have a career, on our own terms. We might also wear skirts and bake cupcakes. Or maybe we wear a burqa. Or studded leather. Doesn’t really matter, does it?
We are soft, gentle and caring, and we’re tough as nails. We make peace when we can, trouble when we must, and we raise hell when we know it’s time to shout. We love and nurture our men and our families, while protecting our selves and demanding that our own needs be met. We refuse to live our lives in fear of how we will be perceived, and instead we spend them pursuing whatever interests strike our fancy.
I do not believe that forcing women to be aggressive, testosterone-happy brutes advances the cause of feminism in any way. I think it puts us back 50 years. Being a stereotypical feminist is no better than being a stereotypical housewife. You are still defining yourself on someone else’s terms.
I don’t find that acceptable.
Defining yourself by the stereotypes that you do not fill will never free you from them. You have to be brave enough to be who you are, on your own terms. Appearances be damned.
So let’s stop this, right now. Let’s get over this undermining of women by other women in the name of liberation. Let’s stop for a second and think about what we say we’re fighting for – the right to be heard, the right to pursue our dreams and opportunities, and the fundamental prerogative to do that in whatever way we see fit.
And now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go knit.