(Gender identity and sexual identity is something that is so individual and personal. It is important to find out what your own personal identity is by being true to yourself, being introspective, and, if necessary, reaching out for support. Through this post, I am not by any means trying to say what is right or wrong as a woman. I also believe everyone has a masculine and feminine side…and they are both equally amazing. This is simply my own journey and personal story.)
I’ve always been a very introspective person. All my life I’ve questioned my identity as a woman and as a human being. I’ve always known I definitely identified as a woman, and I’ve always known I was definitely attracted to men. But, I still struggled with so many questions. What does it mean to be feminine? Do I have to be feminine just because I am a woman? What is my role as a woman in this world? Can I fulfill this role without the desire to have children? How can I be a strong and independent woman, but also desire a long lasting and loving relationship?
I never wanted to be what anyone expected of me, I just wanted to be myself.
But, who the hell am I, and how does my role as a woman influence this?
When I was young, my mom was the nurturer and took care of the children, and my dad was the breadwinner and managed the finances. This gave me what seemed to be very clear definitions of what a man was supposed to be and what a woman was supposed to be. Although my parents held the standard female/male roles in our family, I was very lucky because my mom was, and is, an extremely hard working, independent, and passionate woman who set an amazing example for me. Both of my parents were wonderful and supportive of whatever I wanted to be. But, (and I hate to admit this) I had a hard time appreciating my mom and her feminine traits when I was younger. She was so emotional, which was a trait I saw in myself and didn’t like-so I avoided it at all costs. She loved (and still loves) children, which is a trait I didn’t have and didn’t understand, so I took it as a negative trait. I saw her feminine qualities, and they scared me. She was such a powerful and amazing woman, but I took her feminine traits for granted because in my mind, feminine traits were too much pressure for me. All the emotions, and judgement, and societal pressures! Femininity scared me.
I had always considered myself very strong and independent–and, for some reason, being feminine did not fit into my definition of “strong and independent.” I wanted to be more like the men around me because they seemed to have so much more freedom and seemed free from overwhelming emotions, and judgment from society. Because of this, I affiliated strength and freedom with masculinity…and those were the attributes I wanted!
So to complete the duality, femininity became something that I avoided throughout my adolescent years. In my mind, femininity was weak, shallow, and boring. Femininity meant long hair, always being pretty, lipstick, smiles, chastity, and playing stupid so as not to hurt the male ego. These were not traits I had or wanted, so I rebelled. I would try to avoid my emotions, I hid my curves (mainly my booty), and felt ashamed of my period. As a young girl raised in an American suburb, I felt as if I was expected to fit a certain role which I could never fit in. But yet, I felt stuck between desiring love and romance, and needing freedom and independance. Masculine vs. feminine. I thought I had to choose one over the other. But the thing is, I have always loved being a woman, but I just hated what it supposedly stood for. I still hate that women are objectified in media, that ‘we’ are used as props in pornography to please men, that ‘we’ are generally paid less, that ‘we’ have to fight for our rights to choose what we do to our wombs, that ‘our’ wombs are politicized, that ‘our’ sexuality is chastised, that “even in 2016” ‘we’ still have to struggle with victim blaming, mansplaining, criticism of our outward appearance, and…Donald Trump. These societal struggles are very real, and I simply did not want to be a part of it. So, I dismissed my femininity, and rejected feminism because, honestly, it was too much to handle.
Through many many years of introspection, questioning, denying, being afraid of my emotions, and rejecting myself, I finally discovered that the thing which was keeping me away from my feminine power was not that femininity in itself is flawed, but that the perception of femininity in our society is completely and horrifically distorted. I realized that in rejecting my femininity, I was rejecting the power and beauty of what it means to be a woman. I no longer wanted to fight my way through a “man’s world” trying to embrace masculine traits, I wanted to create change in the structures and expectations of my world to allow space for who I truly am…an unapologetically feminine woman!
And true femininity is powerful and totally badass. As a woman, I am an intuitive, emotional, communicative, powerful, and creative. Femininity can be strength AND vulnerability, independent AND caregiving, wild AND loving, free AND forgiving. How awesome am I, and all women, to encompass all these qualities?! I can be a woman and be feminine, AND be myself! I am recognising that femininity does not, and cannot fit into a box–and that I need to explore, discover, and embrace my very own power of the feminine. This realization took me a long time to embrace. But now I will happily and proudly share with anyone who is willing to listen: I LOVE being feminine! And, yes I am definitely a feminist.
This is me. All encompassing and powerful. Being feminine and being a woman is truly a wonderful gift.
I still, OF COURSE, struggle with societal expectations and challenges as a woman. I still, OF COURSE, hate the fact that I am not 100% in charge of my very own womb, and that women are still judged for their sexual freedom, and that there is still not complete and total equality for men and women, and that I am expected to find joy from having children (I don’t wants kids!). BUT I am no longer rejecting my feminine side because of these struggles. Instead, I am using these struggles to empower myself, and to shift the mental paradigm of the ‘ideal woman’. Each and every one of us are beautifully flawed, and I am making the choice to love myself and my natural feminine qualities. I don’t need to suppress my feminine qualities to be successful, and I don’t have to give myself up for a man. I can be beautiful and accomplished, independent and in love, emotional and smart.
Whether you are a man or a woman, learning to embrace your feminine side is multifaceted, beautiful, powerful, complex…and so badass!
So, the important thing to ask yourself now is, what does feminism and femininity mean to you? And how can we make our world a place that allows more space and openness for femininity?
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions of comments, please post or contact me in the “Contact Me” section.