I’m not even sure that I’m qualified to write a blog entry like this. I have to admit that I am no expert on the feminist movement, and what little contact I have had with it has been somewhat negative. The first definition I found on Google defines feminism as the “advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Still, whenever I think of the word, my mind floods with images of angry women who hate men and burn bras in the public squares.
I know that is only a stereotype.
I recognize that we live in a male dominated world, and that there is a need for women to protect themselves against its inherent injustices. I do believe that women, in general, are not respected. I believe that, for all the negative stereotypes that I hold, feminism is – at its core – a good thing. Women shouldn’t be seen as politically, socially, or economically inferior to men. We are just as intelligent. We are just as capable. We are just as valuable.
And yet, there is an uneasiness that comes with my admission of those things. There is a need to quantify exactly what I mean when I say that feminism is good, because while I do believe that men and women are equal in value – I do not believe that we are always equal in function.
Perhaps I am wrong about this, but I have been noticing a trend lately in which women are changing who they are and denying themselves certain aspects of their womanhood in order to gain the respect of men. I have seen sentimental women harden as a result of being treated dismissively by our male-dominated society. I have seen feminine women become tomboys as a result of being treated as unintelligent. I have seen women with dreams of homemaking have their dreams belittled by those who feel they’d be wasting their lives and shackling themselves to a husband and children. I have seen women treated as weak simply because they have a husband, boyfriend, or accept with gratitude a chivalrous act. I have seen religious women pitied and looked down on as oppressed. And I have seen how these experiences have changed these women. Instead of demanding to be valued and respected for who they are, they change who they are in order to gain respect, and then call it “feminism.”
I’m not saying that all women are sentimental, girlish, or have a desire to be wives and mothers. I’m not saying that women can’t climb the corporate ladder, open her own doors, or carry her own bags. What I am saying is this – why does it seem like we are changing who we are in order to gain the respect of a society that should respect us for who we were in the first place?
What is wrong with being sentimental? What is wrong with being girlish? What is wrong with being a homemaker? Are those women any less intelligent, capable, or valuable? Don’t those women make just as much of a positive contribution to society as the men and women in suits? And the very worst part of it all is that, at least in my experience, it is often women who belittle other women for having traits that aren’t seen as strong or independent.
This is what I have observed over the years: women, trying to become more like men, in order to be treated equally as a woman. It just doesn’t make sense.
Personally, I am not a very emotional and sentimental type of woman. I am a bit girlish but I do have that adventurous tomboy streak. I enjoy the idea of being a “Holly Homemaker” type, but I also enjoy working and making money. I am always grateful when a man holds a door for me, carries my bags, or takes my arm as I walk down a flight of stairs, but I also have a strong handshake and am assertive when I really want something. I refuse to change any of my personality traits – “girlish” or not – in order to be treated with the equality that I deserve in the first place. And neither should any other woman. You want to be ultra-feminine? Be ultra-feminine. You want to be a homemaker? Be a homemaker. You want to climb the corporate ladder? Climb it. And don’t let anyone put you down for it. We should be respected for who we are, because we are just as intelligent. We are just as capable. We are just as valuable.