In general, I have no problem with people labelling themselves however they see fit. I think its all a bit silly and pointless, but its also harmless enough. So if it makes people feel important, I really have no objection. But I do have a problem with feminists who loudly assert themselves as such. Why? Because I believe all women are feminists at heart. One does not have to buy into all the female empowerment exhortation to believe that women can accomplish absolutely anything. One does not have to be a devotee of Betty Friedan (although, The Feminist Mystique is definitely worth reading) to understand that women posess a unique and indomitable strength of spirit. One does not have to eschew the partnership or support of men to grasp the concept of female autonomy and equality.
All that is required to be a feminist, is to believe in the power, potential, and perspicacity of women. Even if we exist in wholesale ignorance of our own strength, to recognize it in other women is to acknowledge it in ourselves. And when, either by design or happenstance, we are confronted with something that forces us to draw upon reserves we did not know we posessed, we meet the challenge with the quiet but fierce determinaton that is the legacy of our sex.
Elizabeth I was, in many ways, the original feminist though neither the concept nor the word existed during the time of her reign. In an era when women were mere chattel, she was absolutely convinced of her sovereignty. In an age when women were thought indolent, inconstant and insipid, she was confident in her intellect and the rectitude of her rule. Elizabeth did not live by a laundry list of principles that would have allowed her to proclaim some hackneyed ideological designation. The irony would have amused her as much as the need for precepts would have mystified her. She simply lived her life as she saw fit, even constrained as she was by convention and religious dogma. Long before Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Margaret Sanger, she believed in herself and fiercely embraced the one and only doctrine that feminism need sanction...Freedom.
So how does this translate into modern day idealism? After all, its no longer about the right to vote, the right to life, or equality in the workplace.
Well, the feminazis would have you believe that to be a feminist means adopting a rigid set of standards and then defending them with the ferocity and zeal that only the very conflicted er, I mean, convicted can muster. It means excluding those who don't live up to those standards in an effort to preserve their dubious integrity and tenuous superiority. They like to assert themselves as free thinkers and defenders of equality, when in reality, they are simply using a convenient label to validate and codify their own choices. They do not celebrate or embrace the gift of choice itself, but belittle those not in keeping with their own narrow view of womanhood. They do us a disservice by robbing us of the freedom our forebearers fought so hard to win.
I stay at home. I raise children and keep house. Sometimes I even bake cookies and engage in other domestic pursuits that would undoubtedly make the most staunch feminist blanche with horror. In many ways, I am a throwback to the days when women were marginalized and subjugated. And yet, I call myself a feminist. How can that possibly be?
Thanks to feminism, I am assured of the value of my choice, and I do not feel honor bound to join the workforce and prove my worth to the world. Because for me, it is not a movement, or a belief system, or a lifestyle. It is the simple freedom to choose. It is the lack of any preconceived ideas about what a woman should be, and do and aspire to, as well as the knowledge and conviction that she can be, and do, and aspire to anything her heart desires.
Thank you Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Susan and Margaret. Your sacrifice has made the world a better place for women, even if some have yet to realize it's about choosing your own destinty, rather than being a slave to a cause.