For a change, let us talk about the change-makers instead of the problem-creators. Although patriarchy is still majorly embedded in the system, the silver lining is people are starting to acknowledge its inherent existence, and have started believing in their individual capacity to bring about change.
Identifying yourself as a feminist is an achievement on its own, considering the derision one has to face for going against rigid norms. We go through a lot – boycott, personal attacks, trolling, isolation, to name a few. For feminists to exist in patriarchy, unity is a must.
But many a time, even feminists forget that unity doesn’t necessarily mean mirror images of one another. After all, individuality is at the core of liberalism, and feminism too has its own liberal space for individual differences. No uniform set of features define a feminist.
But unfortunately, even the feminist community often indulges in moral policing of their fellows, without realizing that acceptance and choice are at the heart of feminism. When a rebellious attitude is measured on the degree of masculine characteristics or demeaning the popular perception of femininity, we again fall into the trap of patriarchy and its acceptance of masculine behaviour as ‘powerful’.
even feminists indulge in moral policing of their fellows, without realizing acceptance & choice are the heart of feminism.
On that note, let me list out a few things before you feel guilty of your choices which stand contrary to the image of an ‘ideal’ feminist.
A Conventionally Feminine Appearance
What does a feminist look like? Let’s go from head to toe. Short, funky hair? Random piercings? Unconventional clothing style? Body hair? No. A feminist looks like a person who believes in justice and equality. That’s it.
You don’t have to dress up a certain way to ‘look’ feminist. If you like wearing dresses, florals, or keeping your hair long and sleek, or have a tendency to speak softly. Similarly, investing in your appearance is harmless. If you like wearing makeup, or taking dressing up seriously, it’s absolutely fine. Being conscious of your appearance is harmless, and as long as you’re doing it for yourself and not to fit in the supposed gender roles.
A feminist looks like a person who believes in justice and equality. That’s it.
Bearing any characteristics of a traditionally feminine person is okay. After all, feminism wants women to be themselves, have no one policing over their choices, and exist peacefully with the way they look.Your appearance does not define the ideals you believe in, and if your ideal forces you to be someone you’re naturally not, it is time change your perspective towards it.
Interest in Domestic Work
What on earth does outrage a feminist the most? Oppression, discrimination, and ignorance. Cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores are not on the list.
Housework has surely been devalued since time immemorial, but it isn’t because the work itself is of no value, but because women are assigned domestic work and everything assigned to women is automatically deemed insignificant. Don’t let anyone tell you that being a feminist means hating certain chores. It means to consider all work worthy of acknowledgement and appreciation.
If you can’t stand dirt, if you are fond of cooking, if you would like to spend a life maintaining a household, I’d like to say nothing but congratulations for choosing a life you love. A feminist life isn’t about getting a promotion before your male colleague or taking pride in the inability to cook your meals. It is about possessing the agency to do what you want to do.
Wanting A Family
It is of no surprise for a man to have a successful career and a happy family to go back home to. But on the other hand, as for women, career and family are seen as opposites, things which cannot be pursued together. And that is entirely false.
You don’t have to ‘choose’ between having a family and your career. Nonetheless, if the choice is presented, mostly people would think that a feminist would choose her career over dedicating her life towards the well-being of her family. And I am here to tell you that choosing otherwise does not make you stand at the opposite end to feminism. Patriarchy seeps in as supposed feminine tasks are undermined.
for women, career and family are seen as opposites, things which cannot be pursued together.
Dreaming about your wedding, your family life, or yearning motherhood is completely okay. There is nothing wrong with a person deciding to give their time to family more than their ambitions. And moreover, ambitions are not limited to scoring a top position in a corporate. Ambition is to lead a life you love with dignity, and if taking care of your family gives you that pleasure, grab it.
Being Emotionally Fragile
Self-love is important, but it’s not a yardstick to measure your feminism. Even when feminism stands for not succumbing to other people’s expectations of you as a woman, you don’t have to feel like a superwoman all the time. People tend to question one’s feminism if they see them being vulnerable, emotional, or in need of another person.
You don’t have to be emotionally strong to believe in the right to be emotionally independent. It solely depends on the individual’s disposition towards situations. You can be in need of a special person when you’re feeling low, or you might need constant motivation to take a step. These things don’t make you any less of a feminist, because while feminism stands for women to be strong, it equally believes in accepting the people the way they are.
You don’t have to be emotionally strong to believe in the right to be emotionally independent.
Over the years, certain standards have been raised for people to achieve in order to call them feminists. But feminism in true sense, is about having the right, the agency, and the freedom to make decisions for ourselves. It isn’t limited to a certain appearance, or choices, or your emotional capacities. Feminism lies solely in your aspiration to make this world a better place for all genders, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Featured Image: Washington Post