So I’ve had occasion lately to ponder my take on feminism. Here’s a weird thing about me. I’ve never aligned myself with feminism as a Thing, because I grew up in a home and a society that looked upon angry, noisy, bra-burning women with gentle pity and regret. In my brain, I assumed those women wanted to be men, because men had it all. And for YEARS, I let that image, those imagined, frustrated phantoms, wear the feminist badge. But I didn’t need to wear it.
And then (five minutes ago?) I grew up. And I realized that DUH, of course I’m a feminist. Because I want women (all of us, everywhere) to have what we need. AND THAT WHAT WE NEED IS NOT THE SAME THING. Because, with the exception of food, shelter, and love, we — all of us, humans, men, women, children — need different things to be fulfilled.
Now, I totally understand that as a middle class, college-educated white woman of US citizenship, I walk every day on the gentle paved road that my historical sisters have laid for me. And I appreciate their radical efforts, their vision for their daughters, their bravery in the face of hatred, or worse — of disdain. I read books. I know a little history, and I know a little current policy in other parts of this big world. I know (I KNOW) I have it easy compared to almost everyone, everywhere, ever in history.
Oh, I appreciate that ease. I really, really do.
And I have had occasion, in my small ways, to feel put upon because I am a woman. Personally. Intellectually. Professionally. Socially. And it never, ever feels good. But the difference between me and that strange, imaginary Feminist (the one I constructed inside my tiny brain) of my youth is that I want to be a woman. I want to be a wife and a mom and a nurturer. I want to teach and instruct, I want to nourish and (sometimes) even clean up after my family. I find joy in traditional home pursuits. And I want to be free to find my joy. And I want you and all our sisters to be free to do the same, however that joy be found.
Above all things, I want to use my feminism to be feminine. In fact, I stand by my right to do so.
And I don’t think that makes me anti-anything. It’s possible for a woman to choose another path in this feminist journey. And I’ll stand by them. And it’s possible (and awesome) for men to choose to embrace the traditionally feminine personality-traits of nurture. And I’ll stand by them, too, and be glad.
The best compliment I find myself giving out these days (years) is “Lovely.” That’s a word I use to describe all manner of people, and also art and food and music and homes and clothes. And it’s a traditionally feminine word, but it’s never really occurred to me that it would be a wrong word to use to describe men. And I use it about a lot of men — admirable ones, all. Maybe they’d hate it. But I hope not, because what could be more lovely than being lovely?
And perhaps my pledge is “Be Lovely. Foster Loveliness. Seek the Lovely.” Those are words I can live by.