I’ve never considered myself a feminist. I’ve never considered myself not a feminist. I’ve never really considered feminism at all.
My female role models were always just themselves. In hindsight, they seem family-centric before career-driven, but this image of them is assuredly more a product of my relationship with them in the roles of mothers, grandmothers, and aunts than it is of their personal career identities as nurses, scientists, teachers, businesswomen. Regardless, that view hasn’t ever colored my view of the strength of their characters or the importance of their roles in my life.
One of the first times I separated these two identities was in a sixth grade English essay about my Mom, presumably about the years she spent as a ballet dancer. Ms. Potowski made a note on my paper: Why did you use “Sue” instead of “Mom”? It wasn’t a question of right or wrong, just a question. Whose answer was Because she wasn’t “Mom” when these things happened.
Still, whether it’s a result of what seems to be a rise of the discussion in the media lately or just of the conversations I find myself having with other women my age — all of us well out of undergrad status (if not yet fully entrenched in careers), with several years of work experience under our skinny belts, independence held high on our shoulders, and “real world” choices cluttered in our oversized totes — the topic of wo-manity is definitely a recently trending topic.
How to look, how to look at each other, how to think about food, why to work, why to date, how (not) to date, how to love, who to be, what to fight for, why to marry, how to have it all, how to have some of it, which parts of it to have – themes that cross my mind on a regular basis, but I can’t say I feel an extreme anxiety around them. Are these not just things people think about? Don’t we all think about these things and, somewhat selfishly, think about them in the context of ourselves, whether as women or men or otherwise? Are we automatically, if subconsciously, feminist just by being female? Automatically supposed to be feminist just because we’re female? Does it have to be a thing? Do we have to turn it into an –ism?
I’m not sure. Not sure if I care to give myself that label – or refuse it. I certainly don’t consider myself anti-feminist and I certainly do consider myself anti-sexist. I suppose I just question how we define those terms. Of course women can put on their own coats and assemble their own bikes and drive their own car – and they should; I do and I enjoy that independence. I also enjoy certain of society’s assigned gender roles, where men open my door and walk on the outside of the sidewalk and fix stuff (especially this week, with all of my electronics deciding to jump ship).
For now, let’s just say at least I’m thinking about it? It’s scattered in there among the latest jumble of curiosities, organized de manière désinvolte – in very unladylike fashion – this week in the following haphazardly marked boxes :
IN SCIENCE : Wildlife show host goes for gold. Beatles in backyards and lungs in petri dishes. Looking at a screen is good for your eyes. On art and torture and a revolution report. Plus, what could be more interesting than the weather forecast? Unless it’s finally understanding why you’re still single?