As I slowly enter the world of adulthood I find myself grappling with these two words, femine and feminist, and how I identify with them. Only two letters apart, with the same root word, meaning woman, yet I feel like I have forever been told these were contradictory adjectives and one person could never be both. This paradox emerges in my life in a multitude of ways.
Simply for starters, can I be a feminist and have manicured nails, false eyelashes, extensions, and wear a push up bra and a short skirt? Can I partake in the revelry of Halloween in a revealing costume or am I perpetuating the objectification of women? Am I a part of the problem in the subordination of women, or does volunteering for an organization providing support to victims of domestic violence make me a crazy crusading feminist who wants to bust balls and man-hate?
On a more elevated level, professional concerns arise. I am pursuing a J.D. and hopefully will have a wildly successful career as a lawyer. I have been told this path will render me unable to have a fulfilling family life. I will supposedly have to give up the soccer games, dance recitals, fresh baked cookies and home cooked meals for nannies and late nights at the office.
Is it truly unfeminine to want to pursue a professional career? Will I be incapable of being a good lawyer, and a “good mommy” or wife?
Daily on the digital life billboard that is Facebook® I see another update from a girlfriend from high school, my age, and sometimes even younger, pregnant, celebrating a child’s birthday, getting engaged, married, or even divorced, and reconsider my endless pursuit of education. I often find myself the subject of upturned noses and shocked expressions of the same said friends when I reveal I am still in school, still without husband or child.
I have found myself questioning whether I am missing out on life, or delaying it, or ensuring I have an outrageously “better” life with limitless opportunities, and more disposable income? I cannot deny I have thoroughly enjoyed prolonging my youth, but I cannot help but what wonder—Is it “settling” and the fear of the unknown that drives the desire to live in your hometown, marry your high school boyfriend, and have a mediocre middle class life, or is there beauty in this simplicity? Are these people truly happy, and am I on a path of chronic dissatisfaction, always wanting more?
I do not know if I will ever know if I am feminine or a feminist. Though the cliché reads, “You can’t have it all”, I am determined to have it all and more. I would rather live my life exactly how I want, than continue to try to understand these words, or define them.