This past weekend while spending the afternoon with a friend, our conversation turned from shoes, work and life to something a little more intellectual: feminism.
Me: I’m not a feminist
Her: You’re not?! Yes you are!
Me: I mean I’m all for women’s rights and I fully support women, but I don’t consider myself a feminist.
Her: What’s the difference?
I couldn’t give her an answer. I wasn’t sure what the difference was. I just knew that for some reason I didn’t want to be considered a feminist. I have been thinking a lot about this conversation in the past couple of days. I wonder when and how the idea of feminism went from being a strong and powerful woman to a bad word.
When I hear feminist my first thoughts are of an angry, man-hating, slightly butch woman running around without a bra and protesting anything in her way. Obviously, I know this is false. Regardless that is the image my mind conjures. I hardly believe I am in the minority. Think about it – how many women have you heard proudly refer to themselves as feminists?
My circle of friends is filled with strong working women all of whom believe in equal pay, women in the workplace and women’s rights. However, I would be hard pressed to find a “feminist” in the bunch. Except that we all are. The majority of women in this country are feminists, yet only a small minority identify as such.
The feminism of today is starkly different from that of the past. There are even some who’d argue that today’s women are throwing the hard work of past generations out the window. We constantly objectify ourselves, buying into beauty myths and continuing to place more value on our appearance than it’s worth. On the other hand, more women are venturing into the workplace, running companies and holding high political offices. So by my count, we’ve come plenty far from the days when “women belonged in the kitchen.”
However, this hasn’t come without backlash. Women can now have it all, and unfortunately many of us (myself included) feel the pressure to live up to that. We want to marry, raise children, run a company and look great doing it. What is this doing to us? What is the cost? Research shows that even in households where both parents work, it is the woman who does most of the household chores and child-rearing. Women are often stretched thin with responsibilities that more often than not men do not have. Today’s girls are brought up by mothers who do everything: they work, they help with homework, they clean, they cook and they maintain an “image.” Often times what we don’t realize is that our mothers are stressed out, and working hard to appear “fine” and put together. Unfortunately, as a result of this “superwoman” image, we grow up believing that is what is expected of us – to do it all flawlessly.
I am still learning and trying to accept that this is a fallacy. NO ONE can have it all! It just isn’t possible, sometimes things have to give. If that means you have to order in take out, or dont have time to get regular haircuts and manicures, so be it. I believe both women (and men) should have equal opportunities, be paid equally and have the exact same right to live adjusted and balanced lives. If that makes me a feminist, then I am proud to be one.