I’ve been noticing something more and more lately and I have to say, it bothers me. I guess I’ve noticed it before, in different, round about ways, but these days it feels like I’m confronted with it more and more often (this may be a direct result of my Year of Dresses). Here it is:
Feminists don’t believe that women can be traditionally feminine and strong.
Wait. Lower the pitchforks. Let me elaborate. And I’ll begin with my standard disclaimer:
I don’t have a problem with the early feminists. I think they did a ton of good. I’m grateful to them. I’m thankful that I have the right to vote.
Things get a little fishier as we go along (think about: by the 1920s women were dying on a certain island so that Margaret Sanger could test out the Pill... all so we could be "free").
The focus of feminism has shifted over time, and for the purpose of this post and this blog, it’s this newer feminism that I’m referring to when I use the term. At some point feminists decided that we all needed to be the same. And that since men sometimes behaved badly, women should be allowed to behave badly too. They told us that we could poison our bodies and the environment. They told us we could do whatever we wanted to do simply because we wanted to. They elevated pride to an art form and self gratification (and destruction) to what is basically a form of idolatry.
Lately I’ve noticed though, that the “we’re strong and we can do whatever we want” attitude does not extend to living a life that is authentically feminine.
Embracing who I am as a woman is only okay if it involves promiscuity or taking on traditionally male characteristics (or both). It’s not okay if it involves wearing dresses and learning what were traditionally womanly arts.
You see, what I’ve noticed lately is an attitude that, because my exterior is rather feminine (and my interior too!) I must be weak.
Hold on. That’s odd. Feminists tell me I must be strong. But it seems they only will accept a woman who’s strong in their own image.
I’ve noticed this more and more on a day to day basis. Maybe it was the woman at our garage sale who couldn’t hide her shock when she learned that the karate gear, and the surfing gear and the skiing and snowboarding gear and the skateboard and rollerblades, were all mine. She’s just been talking about how sporty her own daughters were, but her jaw nearly hit the pavement when she commented on how I was making my husband get rid of all his stuff and he said that actually it was mine. The conversation that followed was rather uncomfortable.
For the sake of length I’ll eliminate some of my other recent experiences, but the hostility has been cropping up more and more lately (one dress in particular actually seems to bring on the most negative reactions). And the negative assumptions. I must be weak and a little pathetic, and probably not all that bright because I’ve embraced my femininity.
The sad fact is, modern day feminists are attempting to force women into a mold just as strict and restrictive as any mold past societies have thrust upon women and heaven help any woman not willing to bend and change to fit that mold.
Paul’s sort of funny. I’ve heard him tell quite a few people that his wife is tougher than she looks. They always look at him like he’s a little bit crazy. Most people who know me these days don’t know I’m a black belt or that I played rugby on two continents (and broke six bones and my nose twice in a single year). They don’t know that I won a number of tournaments (fighting) and further damaged my back surfing.
You see, I used to fit the feminist image of femininity pretty well. But it wasn’t me. I was conforming to someone else’s idea of strength and womanhood. It was like wearing a dress that just didn’t fit.
So now I sew and knit and crochet and cook and bake and garden when I get a chance. And I take care of my home and family.
I’ve come to realize that that takes a lot of strength too (and inexhaustible reserves!). Giving birth, staying up with sick babies and going for years without sleep, isn’t for wimps. Keeping a house clean certainly isn’t for the mindless.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful that I have the right to work and do a great many things. But I resent the idea that those things should form the entire scope of every woman’s existence. My vocation has called me in another direction and I’ll follow that call.