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.

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