Why can?t I be both? Feminine and a Feminist


Mt. Pleasant News


I am a feminist.

However, until recently I would not have categorized myself as one. No, my ideals and values haven?t changed; it?s that as a society, we?re starting to think differently about what or who a feminist is.

Feminism is a topic my best friend and I have talked about quite a bit. We both see ourselves as independent, self-reliant people, but would never whole heartily call ourselves feminist. Our daddies made sure we could change a flat tire on our vehicles and when we lived together and found our Christmas tree slumped over, we were reliant enough to fix it without calling someone to help or go buy a new one. Yes, it only took three cans of tuna, two cans of peaches, some duct tape and intricate wiring to keep our $5 yard-sale tree standing tall, beautiful and ceremonious.

And we certainly do believe in feminist ideals like equal pay for equal work, as women, being able to make decisions about our own bodies and being a part of making policies that will affect our lives. However, we felt we were maybe too traditional in the sense it?s nice to have a man hold the door open and, heaven forbid, if a snake were ever in the area, he would dispose of it, to slap the feminist label upon ourselves.

But why must we be polarized to one or the other. Why can?t I be a feminist and still like to have the door held open for me? I don?t mind holding the next door open for you.

It wasn?t just this all-or-nothing view, though. Feminism was a dirty word?evoking images of angry women shouting about how men aren?t necessary.

That?s why I hadn?t declared myself a feminist. I like men; some of my best friends are guys.

Recently though, there?s been a shift in how we view feminism and that?s all thanks to Emma Watson and her stunning speech at the U.N.

Watson, who may be best known for playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, was named a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.

Watson said it was time to put aside these ?man-hating? campaigns and look at feminism not as an ?us vs. them? mentality, but as a campaign to help promote gender equality. Thus, the campaign and hashtag HeForShe began.

For me, Watson was inspiring on so many levels.

Watson too held many of the ideals and values that I do. She believes in receiving the same respect as men.

In her speech, Watson recounts being called ?bossy? at age eight because she wanted to direct plays and being sexualized in the media at age 14. However, it?s not just Watson?s female counterparts, she addressed men as well.

?Gender equality is your issue, too,? she said. Watson said she?s seen her father?s role as a parent valued less than her mother?s and men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear of being deemed less of a man.

And she?s right. Feminism isn?t about pushing women to be the dominant gender; it?s about putting both genders on equal footing. Allowing women to be strong and feminine and men being able to be sensitive without degrading their strength.

I grew up on Harry Potter, first the books and then the films. Watson?s character, Hermione, is the epitome of what I?ve been calling a ?modern feminist.? Hermione was undoubtedly the smartest and maybe the most resourceful of the three leads. When you look at Watson herself, she is elegant and intelligent ? she carries herself with grace and has a degree in English literature from Brown University. These are all reasons she?s one of my favorite actresses. If Watson can be all of these things and declare herself a feminist, why can?t I?

Basically, what I?m saying is I can still be a feminist and feminine.