As a child and as a teenager, I refused to wear pink. I would recoil whenever my mom suggested it. I was twenty when my best friend convinced me that it was okay to start wearing pink, that it was a good color on me. Before that, I always resented the implication. I felt like it was a color for little girls, not women. Now, I embrace it. I still like blue better, but feminine can be good too.
It’s just, in many ways, complicated to be female. It’s that push-pull between girly being acceptable and charming and girly being… an insult. I’m not saying we need to grab pitchforks every time someone uses the word girly, but it’s definitely a word with two very different connotations.
Because female roles in the last century have flipped and flopped over and over again, gender has become more complicated than ever. Working in the home versus working outside the home (whether via choice or via necessity), granola mom versus childless executive, and everything in between… That’s without getting into all possible living arrangements (and re-arrangements).
To be honest, I’m not even that great at keeping track of my own roles. When strangers ask, I typically tell them I’m a stay-at-home mom… even though I’ve been back in school for two years! I don’t do it to lie to people; it’s just become a stock in trade answer for me (and it’s generally not worth amending my answer for complete strangers).
Having been born in the late seventies, it’s hard for me to imagine that once upon a time, women had very few options outside the home, that they had few rights to inheritance, education, property, or even their own bodies. When my grandmother had breast cancer in the 1940’s my grandfather had to sign a waiver before they removed her breast. Of course, back then, breast cancer flew under the radar, and the support network that is everywhere now just didn’t exist. You simply stuffed your bra, and lived the rest of your life minus one boob… And that’s assuming your husband was kind enough to sign the waiver!
Do I really think women and men are entirely equal or treated entirely the same? No, it definitely depends on where you are. There are still people, places, and organizations that are incredibly backwards and sexist. However, it’s also clear that we’ve come a hell of a long way, especially in the western world. We live in a world that’s far from perfect, but we have the freedom to make (and defend) our own choices.
So, here’s to gaining the right to vote*, being female in the twenty-first century, to having choices, to remembering how and why we have so many freedoms, to defending those freedoms, and standing up for women in other areas of the world who weren’t nearly so lucky.
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ~Gloria Steinem
Feel free to add to this post, however you see fit. It is far from complete as is… (I was trying to keep the post itself brief, so please read the comments section as well.)
*I know that I’m technically a day early on this post. And I probably should have included a photo of Alice Paul, but I found this picture interesting in its own right.
**The phrase “in the pink” means being in perfect health.