Monday, January 21, 2008
I always loved the bumper sticker that read, “Feminism: The radical notion that women are people.” I first learned about feminism in my junior year of college; why it took me so long I have no idea, probably because it wasn’t a popular topic in the ubiquitous patriarchy of prep school. Now, the older I get, the more single I become, alternating between relishing and dreading my freedom as a thirty-something single feminist in a society that doesn’t know quite what to do with me. What I hate is persistent inequality, the glass ceiling, and the question of whether or not the United States is ready for a female president. Why, in the age of supposed post-enlightenment, are we asking such an idiotic question? Compared to Dumb W, Clinton looks like a Mensa candidate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the neoliberal, smoke-blowing power couple on steroids, but could we possible get any worse in the White House?
What I also hate is the media’s portrayal of women and the messages sent to young girls that they must be stick-thin, big-breasted, and smart but not too smart lest they make their boyfriends look inept. We are taught to know and do all but appear as though we don’t know and can’t do it all. We are also taught to compete with other women, sometimes viciously, instead of engaging in sisterhood. It’s no wonder most of the women I know have no idea how to be strong and independent without being mistaken for ax-wielding bitch lesbians, how to be accommodating without being doormats, or how to fully appreciate their intelligence and beauty.
Fortunately I am not hate-full. What I love is that despite my emotional and romantic state I am truly not alone in my search for myself. I love that last week without intention I stumbled across bell hooks’ affirming and life-changing book, Communion: The Female Search for Love, which reminds me that I can embrace my femininity and feminism, and that I must do the hard work of learning to love myself fully in order to have healthy relationships with anyone. I’m starting with my feet, as hooks suggests, an oft forgotten body part which I think are particularly amazing considering they work hard everyday to get me from here to there.
Photo: These are not my feet, but I love this image. Credit: Sean Duggan.