Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feminism is...?

What does it mean to be an 'empowered' woman?

I hate the term empowered. A person has to be lacking in power originally in order to become empowered. In past generations women percieved themselves as lacking in power, and perhaps they were, but there is no reason for any woman to feel 'empowered' in our current society because there is no reason that we should ever be less than that.
So, I hate it because it implies women are coming from a position of weakness.
I also hate it because it is, in my opinion, also grossely misused.
For example, I was informed on the news a few weeks ago that my city would be holding competitions called "Bikini Races" in which women run around a greyhound track in skimpy swimwear, whilst having bets placed on them by punters. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that the majority of the crowd betting would be men. One of the lovely young women who were kindly demonstrating how the race would be performed described the experience as empowering. Empowering??
It is quite possible of course that I am just old fashioned and out of touch, but running around a dog track in very little clothing so that men can satisfy their needs to ogle and gamble at the same time is NOT my idea of how women demonstrate their power.
I can understand that recieving male attention makes a woman feel attractive. However, 'empowering' is not the same as 'makes me feel pretty'.

I also saw a blog that praised natural parenting practises (vaginal births, breastfeeding and cuddling babies among others) attacked by a commenter as being 'anti-feminist'. Again, I have to respectfully disagree. Saying that vaginal births should be preferable (unless a caesarean is essential) is not "taking women's choices away", it is encouraging women to be proud of what their own bodies can do. As a young woman, I know that preserving the condition of the vagina is a major consideration when opting for caesareans. Many of my friends presumed I would ask for a caesarean because it is "more desirable for men". I personally find the notion that I would prefer this option somewhat offensive...a highly drugged, highly unnatural, highly risky, surgical operation that can only be traumatising for my child just for the benefit of potential sex partners? I am aware of the importance of medical intervention during emergencies and am not diminishing their place in the world at all. However I find the idea that women would put the sexual desires of men above their own safety and wellbeing (not to mention that of their child) much more anti-feminist than the blogger's ideas.

So what is feminism to me?
Essentially I believe that women's power lays in the fact that we are women. We are not men, we are not better or worse, there is no better or worse, there is just one and the other. We have no need to be exactly like men because we have worth in being different to them. Neither should we need to define ourselves by the men in our lives.

I am incredibly proud of myself for having the ability to grow a child in my belly, I am so amazed that, after carrying a tiny new human for 9 months, my body can then produce all the sustenance this child needs for a year as well as immunological protection and more until weaning.
I can accomplish anything I want in life, and be anything I want to be. Thankfully that neither hinges on or is hindered by my being a woman.
Although I do hope for marriage and more children some day I will not feel incomplete because I am  currently single.
 I like to feel sexy, but it will never be my main priority in life.

In the past women felt like failures if they were unmarried by 25.
 were defined by their home life.
     felt that feminism meant not behaving like a "woman".
         felt held back.
In the past not being sexy meant not being anything.
Lets not allow that to be our future.

There are many men in my life who I love and care for deeply, I do not think myself above them and I completely acknowledge their value and importance in my life. But I also have value and importance, and I refuse to have the level of that dictated by anyone other than myself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Little Luxury

I got my nails done today.
Which might sound a little boring and bland to some, but for me it's a big deal.
The last time that I sat down and had someone work on my nails was 6 years ago. Yes, SIX, YEARS. And that was for my school formal.

I'm not usually a very high maintainence girl, I have a slight tendency toward feminism and am greatly upset by women who can't find value in themselves outside their looks, as well as by men who can't see past a girl's dress size when choosing a partner. I deliberately dress Elsie in 'boys colours' occasionally and plan to raise her in a way that she knows she is so much more than just pretty. She will grow up with the knowledge that true value is on the inside of people.
All that aside, I do like to look nice. My 'beauty is on the inside' outlook has a limit. I know that I'm so much more than girls who are just 'hot', but I wouldn't mind being both at once.

I've been suffering a little 'not pretty enough' syndrome lately. I think it started over a year ago when Elsie's dad (the Lion King) found a new absolutely stunning girl to hook up with while I was waddling along with my big pregnant belly. This girl is gorgeous; long blonde hair, tanned fit body, beautiful blue eyes, sparkling smile. I couldn't compete with that on my best day, let alone when I've got a giant bump for a stomach. That started my self-esteem on it's downhill run.
Then a few months ago I also decided that cutting all of my waist-length hair off would be a great idea for some reason. That resulted in much less painful hair-pulling activity by Elsie, win. But it also had the undesirable effect of making me feel boyish and ugly. Now my blow-dryer has become my best friend (my hair being naturally curly, which suits my current hair cut about as well as hot pants suit my dad) and I refuse to leave the house without at least applying some mascara.
Not to mention that carrying a baby around everywhere is the fastest way to not get any male attention ever.

So when an acquaintance who has a beauty and nails business posted on facebook "first 4 commenters get acrylic french tips for $27" I thought to myself, why the hell not?
And I'm so glad I did.
I feel pampered, that little bit more feminine, and ever so slightly closer to being not just hot.