ON STRUGGLING WITH MY FEMINISM

  1. I'm a 22-year old woman with ambitious personal and professional goals.
  2. As such, I tend to assume that most other women my age share similar aspirations: to spend their 20s creating a powerful career, and to shelve family planning until way into their 30s or 40s.
  3. But something curious happened yesterday that caused me to reassess both this assumption and my relationship with feminism in general.
  4. While mindlessly scrolling through social media platforms, I became acutely aware of how many women my age are already engaged, pregnant, or married.
  5. I realized that many women my age plan to construct lives for themselves that only narrowly resemble that which I've created for myself.
  6. Along with this realization came a revelation about the feminism that I had always practiced and preached:
  7. Feminism is not the same for every woman.
  8. For me, feminism means opposing erasure. It means standing up and speaking up for equal opportunity and equal treatment. It means not having to sacrifice my goal of being a physician because I someday want a family.
  9. But I fear that this feminism struggles to embrace the issues faced by women of color.
  10. I fear, too, that it struggles to embrace women who draw empowerment and strength from other places.
  11. I fear that it casts aside women who feel empowered first and foremost by their roles as mothers, partners, or wives.
  12. I worry that I've been blinded by my life-long interpretation of feminism: that strong, independent womanhood is synonymous with single, professional, accomplished womanhood.
  13. I also know that, if I don't address this recognition, I become part of the problem.
  14. So here's how I plan to adjust my feminism (and how you can, too!):
  15. From now on, I need to be mindful of how I viscerally and verbally respond to engagement, marriage, and pregnancy announcements.
  16. I need to not roll my eyes when I learn of a friend's engagement while scrolling through Facebook. I need to not snidely remark "well, another one bites the dust" when I learn of a young friend's plan to enter motherhood.
  17. I need to refrain from making comments that reference a woman's choice to enter into these (and other) institutions because motherhood can be empowering! Being a loving partner to someone can be empowering! Sharing your life with someone can be empowering!
  18. And although these institutions do not provide ME with a great sense of strength or empowerment, I shouldn't judge the source of another woman's strength or empowerment.
  19. Because, at the end of the day, isn't that the nitty gritty naked truth of feminism? Celebrating female empowerment and erasing that which seeks to silence it?
  20. I vow to pay more attention to the problem areas in my feminism and actively seek to address them.
  21. I vow to embrace female empowerment rooted in independence, faith, partnership, motherhood, friendship, career, creativity, you name it.
  22. I vow to celebrate rather than to silence.