There seems to be a lot of confusion around Feminism. This confusion causes conflict, expectation and pressure that takes away from what it’s really all about. It is probably one of the most important movements of our lifetimes, and our grandparents’ lifetimes. It is a movement aimed at a simple ideal: equality.
Contrary to the popular belief that Feminism is exclusive to being a lesbian who hates men, fashion and makeup (although that is an option), it is simply about giving the same opportunities to all people, without judgement, expectation and prejudice.
It is not about women being better than men or renouncing everything that makes us feminine and it is not about creating another exclusive society that sets more rules to live by.
Feminism is about recognising that a woman is equally capable of achieving a particular goal or outcome as a man. It is about acknowledging that while our approach may be different, it is equally valid. Finally, and I think most importantly, it is about allowing people to fill the roles that feel most natural to them, regardless of gender.
The goal is not to threaten anyone’s way of life and it is definitely not about claiming higher status than men. It is about having a seat at the table and being taken seriously while not losing everything that makes you a woman because our femininity is seen as weakness.
The “Feminist Rules”
However straight forward this idea may be, it is often misunderstood as a mutiny of the current state of affairs. That everything thus far has been wrong and its time for a revolution. I believe it is ideas like this that cause more fear and separation when the goal is an inclusive society.
Due to this fear and ignorance, a number of rather absurd “feminist rules” have come to the foreground. It is time to set the record straight and debunk these “rules” for the myths they are.
Some of these rules include things like:
- You can’t be a feminist and expect chivalry from your partner.
- You can’t be a feminist and wear “pretty” or soft clothing.
- You can’t be a feminist and be a stay-at-home mom.
- You can’t be a feminist and wear makeup.
- You can’t be a feminist and be emotional.
There are many more of these, but you get the idea. The rules suggest that if you believe that women deserve equality, you should also believe that we want to be men, want to work 16hour days or become another grey suit in a boardroom.
This level of unrealistic expectation sets the entire concept up to fail because everything that makes women powerful and innovative is different to men. Note, not better, but different. Men and women compliment each other and our different approaches allow for fresh perspectives. The goal is not a man’s world or a woman’s world, but a world where everyone has the same value, regardless of their body parts, what they are wearing or who they love.
At the core of the word Feminist, is the word Feminine. Embracing your physiology, your natural expression towards love, caring, motherhood, being flirtatious, wanting to look pretty and do your hair does not make you less of a feminist. If these things make you happy and express your truth, then you are embracing who you are and what is real for you and that is 100% Feminist.
My girl, Zooey agrees… 😉
So, please lean in, as Sheryl Sandberg would say. Lean into your expression and gentle power for love and compassion. It brings new ideas, light and a fresh perspective to the table in a boardroom, your small business, on holiday and in your home.
How about romantic relationships?
The feminist-rule here is, “If you’re a feminist you can’t accept any chivalry from your partner.” Well, um, yes I can!
The fact that my husband opens the door for me, as he has done for the entire 11 years we’ve been together, does not make me less of a feminist or him a chauvinist or place us in a patriarchal nightmare. It makes him a caring partner. It makes him a chivalrous, amazing man who wants to protect me and wants to make me feel special and respected.
These little traditions aren’t power-plays, but gestures of romance that make both of us feel more in love, more compassionate and more caring towards one another.
This gesture doesn’t take away from seeing each other as powerful, equal entities. We both work and contribute. We are both ambitious and we both cook, clean and alternate designated driver duty.
Let’s stop expecting this black and white existence of sameness. No one (not men and certainly not women) want a grey world where desire, love and passion don’t exist. The world can be brightly flooded with flavour, style and unapologetic expression and be 100% equal. All we need to do is let go of what everyone should be doing and start being who we want to be and living the way we would if no one was watching.
Roles, responsibilities and permission
The idea that a woman’s place is in the home is what some cannot let go of. It is not really spoken that openly anymore. (Thank goodness!) But it is there. It is in the judgement of a mother who has a high-powered career, while her husband has an equally demanding position, but none of the prejudice. No one is asking him, “How he does it all” or condescendingly worrying about his poor kids that don’t have their father available to their every need all day, every day.
You see, I believe the movement no longer requires protests, but understanding, acceptance and release. Let’s stop judging each other and start helping each other. I say this not to men, but to women. We are the ones that need to release the hold the “rules” have on us. That is how we gain the freedom to truly choose how we want to arrange our lives. When we allow ourselves the same freedom of choice as we do our husbands and partners, we will start living a more empowered life that empowers our sons and daughters to feel more inclusive and accepting of each other in all contexts.
It is not up to men, society, government, our parents, our partners to allow us to be more. We must release the myth that we need permission in the first place! By letting go of the “rules” for ourselves, and all women, we can step into a feminist world that builds and adds to what we already have, making it stronger and more loving.
When you let go of the “rules” you see the truth of the movement. Underneath equality, it is the freedom to choose.
There is no expectation to be superwoman, the perfect mom, wife, Michelin star chef and CEO! Those are the “rules” talking. You can include all of these or you can be a stay-at-home mom, or you can be CEO and never marry, or you can spend your life travelling the world, alone, with a partner. The options are endless, you do not have to do or be anything that doesn’t make you happy. No one needs you to give energy you don’t have, but we do want you to share your magic, your spark and your love with us.
Embrace diversity, that’s where all the beauty is
There are an infinite number of options of how to arrange your life. It is a spectrum, not a yes or no, black or white. Embrace your natural inclinations, your femininity, who you love, who you are, what you contribute. Be more of those things and you’ll naturally become who you want to be.
Celebrating who you are and fully possessing your natural talents and passions is what feminism is all about. Create space, for you, for your partner and allow everyone to be more of who they are. Let’s stop judging each other for our choices as we choose to see one another with love, compassion and admiration for living life your way.
Feminism is not about creating a new blueprint, it is about seizing the opportunity to choose how you want your life to look. If your life does not look as you want it to, recognise that you have the permission to change, improve or add to it. That is your power, don’t give it away. Own it!
Here’s a Q for you… If you had zero restrictions what you your life look like? Who would you be? What would you be doing? What would you have? How would that feel? Download the worksheet here: