I had my first writing piece legitimately published a few months ago. It’s a chapter in one of my professor’s books, Women in Higher Education. It was exciting to receive the hardback in the mail, and it only provoked dreams of what it would be like to receive my own book in the mail, if that were ever to happen. I’ll admit that the genre of work makes me snigger. It lies somewhere in the realm of feminism, something I wouldn’t openly associate with. (The cover of the book makes me chuckle, too. My sister said it looks like a book on fertility. Why are research books so uninspiring?)
When people think of feminism, they think of things like the Chicago Diamond building symbolizing a va-jay-jay among all the phallic architecture surrounding it. I read that that was a myth, by the way. The architect was quoted saying that she never meant for it to be known as lady parts. I digress. And I think the Diamond building is a digression from true feminism, whatever that may be. You know what it isn’t, even if you don’t know what it is.
I’m not really sure why I wouldn’t associate with feminism. Perhaps it’s the embarrassing mess of what it has become. Or maybe I’m of the housewife feminist brand, the feminist that believes a woman can and should do whatever makes them happy. And be empowered at the same time. And embrace silent fortitude, demureness, ladylike modesty. And look bold and beautiful however they want. And then not care how they look at all. Confusing messages. I don’t know. In any case, I’ve been thinking about these things a lot — what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a godly woman, what it means to be a godly woman who is the companion and helper of her husband, what it means to be devoted to your First Love and how that translates into all sorts of relationships. The latter of which I find to be really hard for women because of a fundamental yearning to be loved and desired.
Society has taught women to build tall structures that reach the heavens and iconically shout “I AM WOMAN! I will not be vulnerable. I will not be weak or be weakened.” Our generation’s culture has taught us to keep our act tight. It’s tough navigating through womanhood because I find myself comparing my womanliness and wifeliness to people around me. I think third-wave feminism, a strain that emphasizes empowerment and embraces female-ness, makes me feel as if I need to be in control and have my sh*t together.
Like with cooking. Our culture has taught me that cooking is fun and cute when you’re posting pictures of the labor-intensive meal you just made on a Friday night. Snap a pic with the Camera+ App, in Hipster mode, on a clean counter, and tagged with my husband. Shubbups. On Monday evening after a long, long day at work, though, no one told me that I’d just want to eat a piece of cheese and pick at crackers out of a box. No one told me I’d be giving my husband a look of guilt/pity/anger/apology/frustration, and then convince him that the both of us should be dieting anyway. He’ll offer to cook or get takeout, and while that sounds good, something inside will nag at me just a little. I want to live up to this idea of the perfect wife and woman. But I’ll also want to throw my hands in the air and just go “uggggghhhhhhhh,” and then finish my paper, respond to emails, talk to friends, eat my cheese and crackers, paint my nails, google The Muppets on YouTube, and go to bed. And I don’t want to feel bad about it.
Somewhere in there, I’ve started to emphasize empowerment and not putting the other person, no matter who it may be, higher than myself. I’ve started to focus on personal satisfaction and not on serving for the joy of serving. And while these traits and qualities are not mutually exclusive — empowerment in being able to put someone else higher than yourself, personal satisfaction in serving — they are messy when it becomes all about me.
Women carry the unique position of being helpers, having the intrinsic nature of wanting to serve and support. I think it’s just been stifled. That’s the kind of feminism I hope to explore this year. Glamour took all the honor out of humility. Bring it back in style.
And now a look into my everyday: I started this fitness class that has been pretty awesome. A) I know it’s working because my appetite and metabolism are like those of a hyena. B) I’m walking on my toes with my knees slightly bent like T.Rex because my calves are killing me. I feel silly. But when I’m out and about, I somehow attain enough adrenaline to counteract the pain and stand upright. Score.