The best conversations always take place over diner coffee, it’s simplistic honesty existing in austere white mugs. Max plucks two Splenda from the small container and tosses them my way before he grabs his own. Just us and our mugs on a lazy rainy day.
“I have a confession to make.”
He looks at me quizzically, not sure what to anticipate next.
“I think I’m a bad feminist” I blurt out between sips.
He knows this is his queue to settle in for a long rambling Kirsten conversation.
I would call myself a feminist; I believe in equality for sexes, equal pay for equal work, and striving as a society to work towards equal representation. I fight for my rights and the rights of other women. Not only that, but I try to make an effort to appreciate the fight that came before me, allowing me to be able to do things like…vote, own property, and have access to birth control. Yet, there are still those quick to criticize that “I’m not feminist enough”.
I shared to Max, feeling guilty in my confession, that part of me likes when after gatherings all the women in my family gravitate toward the kitchen. I love the intimacy, all of us dancing around each other trying to lend a hand and make quick work of tidying the mess left behind. I enjoy that dynamic, and the special times we share in those moments. I tend to show my affection in typically feminine terms, through cooking meals to share and offering to refold Max’s laundry when I see his pile of crumpled clothes in the corner. I like to set the table and pour a glass of wine, hoping between pots and pans fumbling through a new recipe.
I tend to favor feminine expressions of beauty, I shave my legs and wear makeup when I feel compelled to do so. In a room full of people, I prefer to be an observer. I am quite and a little bit shy, but in no way do I see that as me being meek or meager.
Does it make me a bad feminist that in some areas of my life I acknowledge traditional gender roles? Am I a bad feminist because I joke about wishing I could be a 50s housewife? Does that make my belief that women should be perceived as equal invalid?
I don’t think so, that’s just who I am.
Most of the qualities I stated I identify with have at some point been called out as being “unfeminist”. That to shave your legs and to wear make up is to give in to the patriarchy. Feminism is simply the pursuit of equality for the sexes and one’s allegiance to this noble cause cannot be quantified by how often they apply eyeliner.
So to tell someone they aren’t feminist enough based on certain aspects of their being rather than to listen to their beliefs, is shallow. To pressure someone to be something else so that they can be quantified and categorized easier is oppressive. And that is exactly what we are trying to rid ourselves of in the first place.
To be a good feminist doesn’t mean you need to throw out all your bras with an underwire. To be a good feminist you simply need to educate yourself on the present reality and the importance of the history of this movement. It is important to educate yourself, and in that area, I believe most people have room to improve. Pick up a book, talk to your friends, question everything. Understand the rights you’ve earned from those who fought before you, and the rights we still need to work for. Be introspective, question yourself and how you’ve been influenced in your beliefs and values.
Knowledge is power, learning shows passion, and taking action shows intent. The rest can become rather superficial. Everyone had their own interpretation of truth and it is important not to impress judgement onto them without first trying to understand where they are coming from.
+Stay Groovy, Kirst