Dismissing the definitions of feminism

Any test of feminism based on stereotypical feminine characterstics, or lack thereof, should be tossed aside.

by Kate Nelson

I’m a feminist, though you might not be able to tell by looking.

Despite the fact that I cram my feet into blister-inducing high heels, enjoy a good Victoria’s Secret bra that sends my breasts skyward and can spend an obscene amount of time choosing the appropriate apparel for any given event, yes, I am a feminist.

I don’t mind having a door held open, a chair held out or my jacket held up for me. I try to get in my daily dose of “Sex and the City” reruns, and this helps sustain my sanity, even if the lovely ladies’ conversations consist of three parts gushy love talk and one part everything else. I’ve tried

my hand at cooking, and, you know, I like the satisfaction of whipping up a mouthwatering meal. All this, and yet, I am a feminist.

While the first wave of feminism brought to women much-deserved powers like the right to vote, the wave that followed urged women to establish strong female identities and examine the structures of power.

When one thinks of a feminist, the bra-burning, man-hating stereotypes of second-wave women are what, unfortunately, usually come to mind. This is in part because the third wave of feminism, which challenged the idea of a universal female identity, never really hit the shore and instead spiraled into a hurricane, swirling with conflict over the ideologies of the second wave.

Ironically, it seems a centurylong movement has created exactly what it tried to uproot: a structure for what and how females should be.

A feminist should be able to stand strong in her beliefs – and her shoes, even if they are heels of a treacherous height. She should not be defined by a system laid out long before she reached womanhood. Instead, a feminist is characterized by her pride in herself and the women around her.

So just what affirms my status as a feminist? My belief that everyone is the possessor of his or her body and all it entails. The idea so engrained in my mind that every woman has the power to achieve her dreams, whether it’s becoming the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, waiting at the bus stop for her children’s return, a combination thereof or a whole new formula.

It’s the fact that social issues affecting women affect my vote, but not necessarily in all circumstances.

My mind-set is that recognizing and compensating for one’s weaknesses is not the task of women but of all of us. My faith is in the smart, capable female leaders of today and my hopes are of becoming one of tomorrow’s.

A woman should feel confident she is a feminist simply because she can proudly direct the next day, year and decade of her life. Any test for feminism based on a woman’s femininity or lack thereof should be tossed by the wayside.

So, even if you can’t tell from looking, I am indeed a feminist because I believe each of us can define just what it means for ourselves.

After all, where would we be today if women hadn’t rewritten the rules along the way?

Kate Nelson welcomes comments at [email protected].