It all started one fine day while pursuing the mindless activity of Facebook scrolling when I came across this post: “Teach Women to be Women Again,” followed by the hashtag: #femininenotfeminist.
Like, what the shit does that even mean? I’m pretty sure my identity as a woman isn’t tied to my ability to scrub a toilet or keep every item in my closet wrinkle-free. If it were, I am also pretty sure I would be kicked out of the club immediately as I still view ironing as optional. Come to think of it, I think I’ve used my iron about 5 times in as many years.
If your interest is peaked, you’re not alone. I knew following the link would likely lead me into an alternative reality that would inevitably cause heart palpitations and audible scoffing. It did. But it made me realize that there is this whole other worldview that exists out there and thousands of individuals were prepared to loudly defend it.
In today’s world, feminism feels like a dirty word. Or at the very least, if you say you are one, you might be opening yourself up to eye-rolling and a tirade of insults from the more “enlightened” members of the crowd. It’s so unnerving to think that a woman might know her mind best.
I think this is because it’s been made out to be something that it is not. In the classroom, I stopped using the word and described the philosophy in its simplest form: the belief that men and women should be equal. If you want the Stanford University version (since I’m just a woman after all and it might be difficult to take me at my word), feminism advocates social, political, economic, and intellectual equality for women and men.
When you put it like that, I find that most people are fairly reasonable. And, not just reasonable, but they agree. You’d be pretty hard-pressed to find a person that is willing to say, “no, men should remain the social, political, and economic superiors of women.” Or, if a person actually does believe that, they are loathe to admit it and risk sounding like a total ass.
What’s so bad about being a feminist?
It occurs to me that perhaps it’s not just the idea that bothers some, it’s the word in itself. Femininity is traditionally equated with softness, quietness, prettiness. But you don’t have to be feminine to be a woman and you don’t have to be anti-feminist to be feminine.
By all accounts, I would not describe myself as any of those things (soft, quiet, demure, etc.) yet, I would still describe myself as both feminine and a feminist. Perhaps both are much more than the social and cultural stereotypes that have burdened the “fairer sex.”
And yes, gender stereotypes are a burden. If you speak your mind or disagree you are difficult. If you don’t have children you’re not womanly. If you work too much you’re a bad mother or are trying to compete with men. If a woman attempts to highlight the immeasurable ways her day is impacted by sexist societal norms, she is “overreacting, emotional, or simply complaining.”
So what is it?
So what is modern-day feminism? It’s about choice and power. The power to make decisions without the subtle societal pressures that make it feel like living life as a woman is done under an ever-present microscope. You can be whatever kind of woman you want to be and still be a feminist. We shouldn’t be forced to live our lives in such a narrow perspective; the world does that already for us.
I contend that you can be both and argue for the inclusion of a new hashtag: #feminineandfeminist. If you wouldn’t describe yourself as feminine, so what? Have children, don’t. Work, don’t. Clean your house, don’t. Get married, don’t. Wear makeup, don’t. Why does it matter? If feminism makes you uncomfortable, perhaps what really frightens you is the power of an enlightened woman. And by the way, you don’t even have to be a woman to be a feminist.
If you want, you can join my club. It’s much more welcoming and I like to use real dirty words like: “fuck that shit, I do what I want.”