I love being a woman and all the many nuances that come with being feminine. All the lovely characteristics associated with femininity; affection, intuition, compassion, gentleness, peacemaker, nurturing, and sympathetic – features that highlight the significance of womanhood. I, like many others, embrace what it is to be a phenomenal woman. I’m an advocate for self-empowerment, self-consciousness, and general “womanism”.
“So you’re a feminist”, a seemingly displeased gentleman declares after a conversation we have about the distinctions between men and women. I didn’t know how to respond to that, simply because my definition of feminism has always been vague. My friends are just as ignorant, with one referring to it as a softer side to chauvinism and another going as far as to say that it’s the opposite of misogyny. That’s a bit extreme on any level. The dictionary meaning doesn’t cut it either; surely Feminism had moved passed the very basic definition “organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests”? I had to interpret it in a way that would make sense to me. “A representative for women”. This meant I had to defend the woman’s position in society and her right to belong without trying to conform to some societal ideal. It also meant I had to overlook our faults collectively and the injustices we cause each other on a daily basis.
I have to omit the group of girls who scorn their peer for being overweight and her looks “leaving much to be desired”, reducing her to tears. I have to disregard the 40-something-year-old woman who doesn’t love herself enough to leave her philandering, live-in boyfriend, and opts to terrorise and hurl insults at the women who are just as much victims as she is instead. I have to laugh off the woman who’s so threatened by her more successful co-worker, that she finds it gratifying to spread the filthy rumour that the said co-worker slept with management to get ahead.
I have to turn the other cheek when a woman can’t stand the sight of herself so much that she has to belittle and offend other women in order to make sense of her petty existence. I have to discount the woman who actively decides to sleep with a man knowing that he made a vow to another woman who’s back home with their children, waiting for him to get back from work. I have to entertain the girls who have attached a monetary value to their worth, and those who allow themselves to be objectified by men, consequently selling themselves short. Oh, how we’d rather solicit validation from men than from each other!
I have to live with myself knowing that I’ve also been guilty of committing an injustice to one of my own. But I’ll pretend like I’ve never called another woman a bitch, accused her of being a whore, or contributed to her low self-esteem. After all, we’re a unified sisterhood; incapable of being malicious.