Congratulations to everyone getting the chance to read this post. It's many, many years in the making and I've finally decided to take the time to scribble down my thoughts on this subject.
Notice the extra "in" in the title? This post isn't just about embracing the act of being feminist, but about embracing the art of being feminine. The discord comes when society believes that the two are mutually exclusive. I've come to understand that the the most beautiful harmonies of a woman happen in the moments where this dichotomy is expressed.
Though feminism has come to stand for more than equality (the term now rings with tones of female power and sometimes even male-bashing) I've never been one to discount the benefits of men. I prefer to embrace them ...*wink*... rather than condemn them. I do, however, think it's wrong to discount the value of a person just because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Call it feminism or call it human rights, but I believe that it's just ridiculous in this day and age to expect that there's anything that a man can do that a woman can't. It may have to be done differently, but I believe that we can both achieve the same end result. What's even more ridiculous in my mind is to expect that there are things that a masculine woman can do that a feminine woman cannot.
Nurturing our looks is a personal choice, but it's not the only thing that accounts for our femininity. Feminine traits are generally those that are associated with being submissive or weak: softness, elegance, patience and nurturing behaviors. Things like baking and sewing are seen as acts of service and are also considered very feminine.
My view is that women shouldn't try to shake the stereotypes of womanhood, but create more. Are you a woman who plays football, fixes cars and lifts weights? Cool. But you can do that without taking away the validity and self-worth of a woman who spends most of her spare time in the kitchen or raising her family. Are you a female computer scientist who plays dodgeball and takes out your own trash? Awesome, but you could still wear make-up and show cleavage. There's no need to sacrifice femininity for feminism, or vice versa. Don't eradicate stereotypes, broaden them. Take them all! Woman should be in the kitchen, taking care of children, paying bills, doing yardwork, working as CEOs and be in charge of homeland security.
If you're not prepared to be a trailblazer, don't worry. This path has been cut. It's been done. Now, you can just follow in the footsteps of women like Gena Davis. She played the organ, flute, piano and drums. On top of that, she's fluent in multiple languages and a member of American Mensa with an IQ of over 140.
Another is Mira Sorvino. She graduated Magna-Cum-Laude from Harvard and helped found the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones. She speaks French and is fluent in Mandarin.
Natalie Portman also has a degree from Harvard, and she speaks English, Hebrew, French, Japanese, German and Arabic.
The truth is, there is no shortage of woman who are strong, smart and beautiful. I, for one, think that it's fantastic!
Masculine and Feminine No. 4 © Doug Craft, 1980
Picture of Geena Davis courtesy of Imageworks.