For as long as I’ve been friends with David, he has always been in the habit of tucking me to his left every time we walk along the road. Now while I find that habit almost ‘sweet’, I must also point out how annoying it is. It’s something I’d do with a child because my maternal instinct is all for keeping him safe, but having another adult do the same to me is somewhat disconcerting. My mechanical response to this has always been, “I wonder how I ever survived walking without you”.
A week ago I was taking a walk with another friend. When we turned the corner on to the main road, I noticed for a moment he hesitated. It occurred to me at that instant that not only were we walking on the wrong side of the road(the right), but I happened to be on the left—which of course put all in coming vehicle right behind me. For a moment there I expected him to tuck me to his right just like David would, but after that brief hesitation, he just took my hand and kept walking. Now I had two reactions to this: on one hand I was glad he didn’t follow the more masculine routine of playing the ‘protector’ to the fragile female; on the other, I was almost disappointed he didn’t.
Thinking about this has made me realize how at war we are with our bodies; and I think to a large extent this is so because our culture is at war with the female body.
Femininity means different things to different people, but mostly I believe this is so because being feminine is unique to individuals and not some rule book of perfect and ideal female behavioral pattern. The divine feminine circles around these aspects: Restoration, life, creation, renewal, birth, healing, openness, motherhood, nurturing, love, understanding, compassion, insight, intuition, wisdom, forgiveness, connection, harmony and sensuality. Some may realize they are more in touch with some aspects and less with the others, but that does not in any way diminish one’s femininity.
While I hate generic tags like ‘feminist’, I must confess I love everything it stands for: giving women equal chances as their male counterpart. But it does seem like while fighting for our equality, we are either beginning to lose sight of what being feminine means, or if we really believe in the feminist movement.
It is not uncommon to see women who suppress their femininity to take up more competitive roles. I have oftentimes wondered if this is so because these women in positions of authority think if they are any more female, then they won’t appear tough but incompetent (?). There is also the trend of seeing most Human Resource personnel recruit married women in preference to younger unmarried counterpart irrespective of qualifications, to occupy supposed ‘sensitive’ positions. I’ve again wondered if this is to ensure she receives the respect due to her or perhaps soften the blow on the ego of masculine subordinates (?).
Irrespective of these bothersome questions and uncertainties, I do know that if we still have to act in this manner, then feminism hasn’t begun to connect with the society like it’s supposed to, women don’t really understand what is being fought for, and so much has been lost both in formation and translation of this movement.
So how can we be feminist females and yet remain feminine?
Feminism does not in any way require that I become a man to prove a point. It does not require that movie directors and writers infuse masculine traits to female lead characters, make them less sensitive, and give them superhuman abilities. It does not require females who engage in traditional sporting activities to hit the gym until all the feminine ‘softness’ has been beaten out of them, nor that they start to dress up like men and act all boyish. What that only does is promote the view that men are the strong ones in the world, and that to be strong means to emulate them.
Feminism like I see it only requires that you be feminine and tap into your femininity to get what you want—like Cleopatra and Marilyn Monroe; that a woman can be soft, delicate, tender, playful, and sensual, yet pack a mean punch and work like a bulldozer. That being feminine does not in any way diminish my importance. I can do what a man can do, exist in his world without having to be him. I can achieve desired results without going through the same process—I just have to do things the most natural way; men can be men, women can be women, and both exist in a natural state of harmony without offsetting the balance (Yin-Yang?). That I can be a woman and let you be a man, while we each understand the dynamics of our nature—opening doors, pulling out seats, tucking me to safety away from moving vehicles is because you want to make me feel protected as is your nature not because I’m useless at taking care of myself, and that these aren’t standards for measuring your masculine worthiness, and that I shouldn’t demand this from you nor feel shortchanged or disappointed when I don’t get this.
The concept shouldn’t just teach society to recognize and respect the equality and importance of both sexes; it needs women to understand themselves better and reclaim who they really are, for what is viewed as our weakness is our strength.