This post is a part of feminisms fest. Today’s topic, Feminism and Me, is being hosted by J.R.Godeau.
They called me a tomboy. You want to see the scars on my knees? You want to see pictures of softball and tonka trucks?
I was fine with my being a tomboy, and so was everyone else. No one ever told me “girls can’t do that.” I was lucky in that way.
The problem I had growing up was pressure I felt to avoid feminine clichés. But I liked to play dress up, and put on make up, and braid my dolls’ hair. I liked that I had my very own legos that were different than my brother’s; I got pink ones. It wasn’t that they were pink that I liked them, though. It was that I never had to deal with my brother using my legos. And what did I care if they were pink? I got to build things.
When I got older–in high school and college–I felt pressure against getting married, having children and being a stay at home mom. These were things I wanted, but there seemed to be an unspoken ideal that capable women have to work outside the home, or they’re undermining all the work of the generations before them. In my experience feminism was just another voice in society claiming jurisdiction over my identity, and telling me who to be, where to go and what to do.
And so in my late teens and early 20s I rebelled against feminism. I went to an evangelical church, adhered to complementarian beliefs, and hoped to marry soon. It was a refreshing change of pace from searching for my career and imagining myself wearing clacking high heels and carrying a brief-case to some board-room where I was supposed to be. I enjoyed the break with the general liberalism of the world around me.
And then, during an episode of Family Guy, Lois got in fistfight with another woman; the argument was over whether or not Lois had failed feminism by choosing to be a stay at home mother. Lois defended her choice, arguing that women should be allowed such liberties. Finally, I heard words for the arguments that had been welling inside of me for years.
Feminism fails at its goal once it prescribes identities for women, because prescribing an identity for anyone imprisons that person in expectation and misunderstanding. So feminism can only achieve liberty for women by meeting each woman where she is, understanding her and celebrating her. And if feminism doesn’t treat men the same way, it becomes a destructive and limiting force in society.
True feminism is concerned with understanding and realizing the true identities of all people and helping those who are oppressed or limited in anyway. And that is something about which I am extremely passionate.