I’m a word person. Those who know me can attest to this. When I want to understand a concept or theme or idea I look up the words and get all the definitions, antonyms and synonyms and everything else with the words. A few months ago I had a conversation with someone that said, “Well she’s a feminist so, you know…” and I couldn’t help but think to myself, no, I don’t. What does that mean? What does it mean to you? Is it a crazy person who burns bras and marches in protests? Is it someone who pushes her agenda on you? Is it someone who has strong opinions on how people, and women in particular, should be treated?
Well, maybe it is. What’s wrong with that?
For me, supporting women is embracing what makes me a woman. I believe that I have been given feminine traits to uphold and cherish. Do men have some of these traits? Of course. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love and enhance those characteristics within myself.
Women can feed the stomach and the soul. What is it about a great meal that brings such comfort and peace? It doesn’t have to be fancy- I had a girlfriend bring granola, yogurt, and fresh fruit when all my kids and I were sick and I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted. She stayed and chatted with me while I munched my granola and she loaded the dishwasher and wiped the countertops while she regaled me with the story of her sister’s latest catastrophe. She didn’t call ahead, she just showed up, and I was so grateful for her. Did you ever know a woman, maybe your mom or grandmother or your neighbor, who could whip up a meal out of nothing? Food is sometimes magic, I tell you.
Women can comfort. I remember when my oldest was just learning to crawl and he did that thing where he got on his hands and knees and rocked back and forth until he completely face planted. I picked him up and soothed him and I couldn’t get over how just being there and touching him and talking to him made him feel “all better”. Women have a special nurturing characteristic that really comes in handy when a child is sick or hurt, or when your best girlfriend’s heart gets broken. We listen and love and comfort those who need it.
Women can be fierce. Have you ever fought for something you wanted? A job, a grade, a raise, or recognition? Ladies, sometimes we have got to raise our voices and make ourselves known! You have probably heard the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “A woman is like a tea bag—you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” I feel that there is a time and a place to make our intentions known, and a strong and intelligent woman knows that time and place and uses her intuition accordingly.
Women can be feminine. I looked up the word feminine and it was associated with the words “delicacy” and “prettiness” and I was immediately turned off. But then I thought about it a bit more. Everyone can have their own definition of “delicate” and “pretty” and that’s the beauty of it. We as women can be both of those things on our own terms. Does that mean you’ve got visible abs and biceps? Does that mean you’re squishy around the middle and snort when you laugh? Does it mean you’re into muscle cars and eat lots of marshmallows? Sure. It can mean all those things or it can mean none of them. You define your own “delicate” and “pretty”. However, you must have confidence in your own definition. Be proud of you!
Women can mother. On Mother’s Day this year I reflected on the fact that for some, it’s a very hard day. Some of us have problems with our own mothers, some of us have a hard time getting pregnant, or have never been pregnant, some of us are unmarried or single and don’t want to be. These are difficult situations that make greeting cards and commercials and gifts unbearable on that day. To those struggling, I will say this: Everyone needs mothering. The best way to help ourselves is to help someone else. When I have gone through hard times, it is the women around me that lift me up. My husband is an integral part of that lifting, but something about a community of women makes all the difference. There is never a time when women don’t need each other. I have been mothered by teenagers, by widows, by single friends, by married friends. I have been mothered by women who have experienced loss and heartache much like mine. We all need it and it’s inside all of us, whether we bear children or not, we can mother.
Women can change things. We’ve seen history and we know that women can do it, but that’s not exactly what I’m getting at here. Have you ever heard the term “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”? It is so true that a woman can dictate the mood of her home, whether she is a mother, daughter, sister, wife, or roommate. Even if she lives alone, she can sway the feeling of the entire house. But ladies, this is hard sometimes. We all have hormones and we all have feelings, and sometimes it’s just plain hard. But it’s important to take a deep breath and move forward. Feel your feelings, but shift yourself to the place you want to be. I loved watching the movie Moana and hearing the lyrics “… this does not define you, this is not who you are, you know who you are…” We all have bad days and bad moments and it is so easy for women to get down on themselves, but remember that you know who you are, and it is up to you to be that person.
Women can love. I know, we’re coming full circle here aren’t we? It all comes back to love, again and again, and again. We can love those around us, and most importantly, we can love ourselves. We can love the things that make us unique and wonderful, and we can love the things that make us women.
So am I a feminist? Maybe. Am I a woman with a million wonderful things to share with the world?