When I hear women calling themselves feminists I feel uneasy – a strange reaction for me given I wholly support equal opportunities for women in society. For many reasons, when a woman states that she’s a feminist it creates a reaction or an opinion of sorts – in men and women alike. But what I’d like to know is why does being a feminist appear to so often go hand in hand with an abandonment of femininity? Is this just judgemental stereotyping or is there a grain of truth to it?
The online dictionary describes feminine and feminist as:
1. Advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.
While the true meaning of a feminist is clearly positive, why is it that when you ask someone (I’m speaking generally here) what their perception of a feminist is, more often than not the dominant opinion or reaction is a negative one?
If being a feminist means we have pay parity, then I’m all for what feminists have achieved. If it also means women having the same opportunities as men, then I’m all for that too. And if it means women having political opinions, intellectual discussions and respect for who they actually are, then I’m all for that as well.
If it wasn’t for suffragettes and feminists blazing a trail, I probably wouldn’t have many of the privileges and opportunities that I have today. I’m an educated woman with her own business, I get to make my own choices and I have a political voice.
I am not arguing that the fight for women’s opportunities was wrong, because clearly women have achieved a great deal and that can only be described as a good thing. But it’s in that fight, that struggle that I wonder whether we lost something, something within ourselves that perhaps was avoidable?
Have there been unforeseen consequences of the feminist movement? I think so. I hear men complaining that women have become too independent, that women want to do and be everything they possibly can, that women have become hard and aggressive and that because of these changes, they are unsure of their role and where they fit in. On the other side of the coin, thousands, and I mean thousands, of women are signing up for workshops and courses where they are learning to reclaim their feminine power. These courses describe how women have been cultivating a male version of power and how, while feminism has born fruits, some women have been left feeling discontent or unfulfilled. So it’s not hard to work out that there’s an imbalance. Something isn’t right and (generally speaking of course) men and women are ultimately feeling dissatisfied.
The main issue I have with the feminism is that I believe women have mimicked men in order to get on in the world, and in doing so, they’ve rejected a part of their true nature. In my early 20’s when I was into Germaine Greer and Naomi Wolfe and anything feminist, I opposed men rather than worked with them and I certainly didn’t see any advantages of being feminine, in fact, I thought it was a weakness! Now with wisdom, maturity and the awareness of my true nature and purpose, would I call myself a feminist even though I agree with what the movement has achieved? No, definitely not. Do I believe there’s another way of achieving equality and respect for women? Yes, but from the space of being true to who we really are and what we love, and by creating an internal balance of the masculine and feminine.
The other night a fascinating television documentary titled “Spitfire Women” showcased a group of women pilots who assisted during the war effort in World War II. In sharing their story as now women in their 80’s, they spoke of their absolute passion for flying and how they were devastated when the war finished as it marked the end of their flying days. Only one woman from their group had the opportunity to become the first woman commercial pilot.
We’ve come such a long way since those days and while our journey in achieving equality and respect in the western world isn’t over, perhaps this time achievements could be made with the inclusion of what nature actually intended for us – and that includes the values and standards of being feminine.