I recently happened to stumble upon the realization that certain qualities in women seem to entice admiration and profound respect, whilst other factors seem to garner more negative epithets.
This dogmatic line of belief on what makes a woman “empowering” occurred to me as I overheard a young girl proudly declaring how she “never played with dolls” when she was younger and “always preferred toy soldiers.” What was interesting to me, however, was the prospect that the choice of a soldier over a doll somehow seemed to connote superiority in her mind.
I’ve watched as dolls and heels and makeup have become the antithesis of what it means to be a feminist and I could not disagree more. This line of thinking merely breeds further stigmatization. It merely serves as a testament to once again dictate how women are expected to behave and what they’re expected to appreciate. To me, feminism is not synonymous with CEO’s, power tools and suits, nor is it synonymous with stay-at-home moms, baking equipment and sundresses. Feminism to me encompasses all of that and goes forth to transcend even those boundaries. The continuous encouragement, support and respect for the decisions women choose to make and the paths they choose to follow serves as the true essence of female empowerment.
It is time we stopped shaming women for the choices they make. I have often noticed how in the hypocritical façade of supposed “feminism,” society consistently seems to chasten women into behaving a certain way. We have seen how culture has dictated that the true essence of femininity is to be docile, coy and subservient. Women were shackled to gender roles and humiliated for engaging in “masculine” pursuits such as sports and politics. We have broken hurdles in contemporary society and there are hurdles yet to come. Yet, ironically we continue to endorse the toxic patterns we strive to break free from. The solution isn’t to shame women for engaging in conventionally “feminine” pursuits either. It is these root notions that serve as the curtailing factor to true empowerment.
It is time we embraced women as business heads, home-makers, programmers, artists, lawyers, poets, soldiers and dancers. We define our own empowerment, in sneakers and stilettos, at home or at the office, whether we’re wearing a glamorous full face of makeup or whether we choose to keep it simple. We define our own empowerment as mothers and daughters and sisters. It is only when we are granted complete intellectual integrity that we achieve the true essence of feminism.