Monday, July 7, 2014

What's Wrong With Femininity?

Okay, I've been refraining from positing this for a while. It's been in my draft box for a long time and in my mind even longer. I have to warn you, this post goes everywhere, because my mind is kind of everywhere. So I'm sorry if some parts don't flow.

Women can do what men do, but not the other way around:
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about girl power and if a woman wants to be CEO then by all means, go for it. If you want to be a female president, shoot for the stars.

But if you want to be a stay at home mom... well, then you're just not aiming high enough.
Why do we say this kind of stuff? A woman should be able to have her own goals, dreams, and aspirations. Feminism claims this to be the ultimate truth but I see contradictions everywhere I turn.

I don't consider myself a feminist, only because to me, the term is not very inclusive. But I do believe in equal rights among all. Without putting a label on myself, I would consider myself to be an egalitarian. It's not just about girl power for me, it's about allowing men to show a bit of femininity. I don't think that many realize that men aren't always given equal opportunities themselves. But before you lash out on me, know that I'm Not talking about the pay gap or workforce inequality among genders. That's an entirely different topic.

I work in very female dominated  field. I also have a bachelor's degree in a very female dominated field. Coincidence? I don't know. I don't really believe in them. This just happened to be the path I chose. But let me try to find a way to break this down.

Men become engineers. Women become teachers.
Can/should women become engineers? Most definitely! Can men become teachers? Yes. Should they become teachers? Maybe? Do many people find it odd to see a male elementary school teacher? Yeah, just a bit. Why though?

Contradictions: I've noticed this happen a few times in the area that I work in. For example, when we're required to dress professionally, the men wear suits and the women are excited to break out their power suits. Power. Suits.

Why, tell me, can't they be power suits for men, or just suits for women? Yes, this is a very small matter, but if you think about it. This makes it seem like women can only get power from dressing like men. (That statement is a bit over-exaggerated, but I'm trying to get you to think.)

Or when trying to hire people, if a woman appears to be bossy, well, that's just not what we're looking for. Or a guy is really shy, well, he's not going to be successful. Why? How do you know? You're judging someone on preconceived ideas of how a (fe)male's personality should be. How dare you? Hire people on the skills they have and will be able to pick up through training and experience.

Feminine aspirations:
I feel that in today's society, traditional feminine aspirations among women are scoffed at sometimes. Yes, we're encouraged to wear the dress that highlights our curves and make-up that highlights our natural beauty. But we're also expected to climb that ladder, break that glass ceiling, over and over and over. In my field, getting a PhD is expected - especially if you're female. But if you don't, well then why would you go into the career? Or if you do, then you might want to get your PhD before you have kids, because then it becomes exponentially more difficult to reach that goal. Personally, I  just don't want a PhD. I don't really ever want to be a VPSA (Vice President for Student Affairs). That's just never been an aspiration of mine.

But Tawny, you have so much potential and skill. Why wouldn't you want to climb the ladder? We need more women at the top. Don't you want to make more money?

- Well, readers. Potential, skill, and the need to fill a gap just isn't enough motivation for me to put more stress and responsibility on my shoulders. Money's a good motivator, but I would rather live a simpler life if that meant spending more time with my future family. I want babies. I want to spend time with them. I don't want to be the mom who brushes off little Timmy because I have a dissertation chapter to write. I don't want to be the person sending emails late at night to keep up on work. That's just never been an aspiration of mine.

Here's the Truth:
I finally decided to touch on this topic (trust me, this is only skimming the surface. I could talk about it for days.) because of an article I read about Kirsten Dunst. In the article, she talks about how she personally feels that being a mom is the highest honor and "sometimes you need your night and shining armor". I loved this, but other people were outraged. Why? These are her values. If you were really a feminist, you would appreciate her for sticking to what she believes is right for her. She's not ruining anything for you. She's not making a law declaring we go back to the 40s lifestyle. She's making the choice that all of you are fighting for her to be able to do.

You can knock Disney all you want but you know what? Snow White came out in the 30s. That was a much different time. Also, Cinderella is allowed to wear glass high heels if she wants. If you're afraid your child will fall into the gender binary because of a movie, then you might want to rethink your parenting. Just because Legos come in a blue box doesn't mean your daughter can't play with it. And just because a doll has pink clothes, doesn't mean your son can't learn how to care for another. Get over yourselves and stop picking fights over things that don't matter.

So what's wrong with feminitiy?:There shouldn't be anything wrong with it. If you want to take over the world, do it. If you want to be a model, do it. We need to just stop knocking down people for wanting to do what they want to do. We shouldn't be knocking people down for voicing opinions. We shouldn't be blaming all of our failed relationship ideas on Disney princesses. We shouldn't scoff at people who don't want to be CEOs. If you're a feminist, or call yourself something else, and you truly want us to have equal rights, then you have to start acting like it. A suit isn't going to make you any more or less powerful just because you're a woman. You don't even have to wear a suit to dress professionally anyway. Stop it. I think you just want attention.

Thanks for trying to follow along with this mini, scattered, post,
<3 Tawny

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