Feminism and Femininity

A woman in a suit — my favorite picture of femininity and empowerment.

Have you ever stumbled across a blog post or article in which the author declares, “I am a feminist!” and went, “Oh whoa, okay not reading this”? While I haven’t entirely skipped articles by “feminist” authors, sometimes those proclamations make me wary. In this day and age, feminism has become more about crucifying those who are not politically correct than empowering the female sex. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Today, however, even suggesting that there are fundamental differences between men and women is sacrilegious.

For me, though, the first step to achieving political, economic, and social equality is recognizing the key differences between the sexes. For example, as an average female (5’5”), I will probably lose to the average male (5’10”) in a wrestling match (I have beaten a 180-pound male before, of which I am immensely proud). In the controversial and brilliant book The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine writes about many more biological differences in men and women. Did you know that every baby in utero develops as a female until testosterone inevitably kicks in for boys and turns them into dumb beasts? Hehe, I kid. A significant part of their brain does shrink, though, and on average the male brain matures 2-3 years later than the female one.

In any case, this long-winded introduction serves as the background for my definition of feminism: embracing one’s femininity. I’ve realized that my femininity does not remain constant through time and space, but changes with my circumstances. While at times I may act “fiercer” and other times I am content being “weaker”, this doesn’t mean I am denying feminism in any way. Below, I have listed five situations according to my level of aggression, from highest to lowest.

  1. When my family is threatened. I assure you that my parents are more than capable of defending themselves, but when it comes to my younger siblings, I will bite your head off if you harm them. When one of them is in my care, I am in hyper-aware, angry-mother mode.
  2. In a group of females. While I am mostly smiling and cooperative, I am ready to kick someone’s ass at any moment.
  3. In a group of professionals. When I interact with my superiors, I am sympathetic, kind, and friendly. If, however, the competition heats up and I’m going up against my peers, then it’s every (wo)man for himself.
  4. With my significant other. Ideally, in my relationship, I’d like the power balance to be about 50-50. I like a strong man who is capable of bringing out my feminine qualities and also secure enough to allow me to take control at times. Scandals notwithstanding, I’ve always seen Bill and Hillary Clinton as relationship role models.
  5. In a group of males. Unless these are my professional competitors (see #3), I am content laughing at everyone’s jokes, adding my two cents occasionally, and leaving the limelight to someone else. In this situation, no one can tell that I am ambitious, successful, and competitive to a fault.

Sometimes, I wonder if behaving as the “weaker” sex means that I am succumbing to the laws of sexism. In the end, though, I don’t think I am. In the future, if I happen to spawn a household of boys and they join their father chopping down trees in the woods, I have no problem making them sandwiches and a pitcher of iced tea. The only thing I hate more than splinters is mosquitoes. If a guy insists on paying for my meal and walking me home, I will appreciate his chivalry — something the 21st century could use more of — and not feel that he is demeaning me.

What is your definition of feminism? If you are a man, how does feminism impact the way you treat women? If you are a woman, how do you express your femininity? Do you find it changing depending on circumstances, the way I do?

À la prochaine,

R

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8 thoughts on “Feminism and Femininity

  1. Vive le difference. Is all.

    What I want now. or maybe in the future, is a woman as President of the US. My family worked hard to have her as Dems’ presidential candidate. I guess the country is not ready yet for a woman president.

    Cheers !

    • It’s so hard for a strong, independent woman to not be seen as some sort of crazy bitch. Hopefully, this will change. Sadly, Hillary isn’t planning on running again.

  2. I think she will. There’s a movement in the democratic Party for a Hillary in 2012. That’s why Pres. Clinton is working very hard now campaigning for Obama. he’ll need Obama and his people in 2012.

  3. Pingback: Modern Love « Rebecca Cao

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