I Am a Feminist, And I Am Still Trying to Figure It Out
by Nicole Anderson
This article is part of a new column series called, "I Am a Feminist, but...," which features stories about the various ways in which women (and men!) can and do embrace feminism.
From a young age, as a female, I was criticized for being what now as a society is deemed more acceptable for women to strive to be. As a girl, I was conditioned to believe that I had to abide by a set of rules made specifically and exclusively for girls. Now as a woman I am ecstatic to embrace certain aspects of womanhood that when I was younger were seen as negatives. My natural knack to lead in school projects was watered down to being “bossy.” My desire to be the superhero instead of the damsel was rebuked with “girls can’t be superheros.” It was natural for the woman to take care of the house and children and the men to be the providers. Men were meant to be in charge of it all. Women couldn’t possibly provide and take charge, according to that logic. However, in the 21st century, it has become more frequent for women to shatter these glass ceilings. Women are managing and running companies, being superheroes, and acting as the head of the house. Women are constantly showing that they are meant to be seen and heard.
Now, this is where it can get a bit tricky. While women are out embracing these “positive masculine traits,” many women and men are clashing about the meaning and side effects of feminism. Critics say things such as:
“If you’re a feminist, you must hate men.”
“I can’t be a feminist because I love men.”
“You can’t be a feminist because you’re too weak/strong.”
People say a woman is meant to be seen and not heard, but if she wants to be acknowledged, she’s called a whore, slut, or just attention seeking. This is not necessarily true. But what if she was all of those things? What if that is how she as a woman defines herself? We are left to then believe she has no self respect and has let society mold her that way. Is there a line that divides what we, as women can label ourselves versus what society has taught and conditioned us to believe?
There is another woman who is at home taking care of the kids while her husband works. She cooks and cleans while her husband is seen as the “man of the house.” Does that make her respectable and wholesome? Again, not necessarily. She could be manipulative and distraught, but society will often ignore that aspect as long as she upholds traditional values. Her being this way could also, alternately, lead people to believe that society made her believe that she wants to be the trophy housewife while her husband continues to be in charge. So the question remains, is there a line that divides what we as women want to label ourselves as versus what society has taught and conditioned us to believe?
To complicate things even more, what happens if a woman is both? What if she is sexual and a housewife who is a powerhouse business woman but is also tired of being in charge and would like someone to take care of her? The thing about feminism is it is complicated. It is the equality of both men and women, yes, but so much more comes into play in its practice. And no one really can have it all figured out because we are all still trying to debunk, critique and explore what it means for women and men, especially when it comes to topics like gender roles. So I don’t have it all figured out. I have many questions, more questions than I have answers. But that’s okay.