Response to an article in ‘Elle’ Magazine.
I read with interest your opinion piece entitled ‘Feminism: did we really get it all?’ I resent the implication (that reeks of male post-feminist posturing) that having it all has become a burden. Firstly, what does ‘all’ even mean? When did we get it all? How would we know when we have reached that, mythical point? When can we say, I have it all now, so I’ll stop? Of course we don’t have it all, I doubt anyone ever will. That is the beauty of this existence , we continually grow and change and so do our priorities and goals.
Secondly, the idea that in wanting ‘it all’ women have some how become over burdened, that we work too had, and that we have too much to do. That is our punishment for being greedy feminists and wanting what men had. Now we have it, poor weak females, we can’t handle it. This idea that western women are struggling under the crushing weight of families, work, and trying to stay healthy, fit, beautiful and young. This is not imposed from outside, this is a self created situation. To lament the burden of this lifestyle is offensive. Do you think the Congolese women who were raped; who you were reading about on the way to your yoga class, would feel overwhelmed by the demands of the western middle class female lifestyle? Complaining about others demands on us, the hideous female martyr stance which disempowers women by setting us up as victims, powerless in our selflessness. The universal mother, here to care for others, at the expense of your own self. I don’t buy it.
We need to recognise that these pressures are imposed by our own decisions and choices. You say ‘Even if my life is too swollen, more men I know have lives that are too small’. Actually I admire the ability to only engage in what you want to; to take on only the responsibilities you enjoy and find fulfilling. Yes, this might sometimes mean that people are selfish and that they may run from responsibilities that they should stand up for and fight for. I respect the right of people to search for and create their own reality, to be true to their internal desires and dreams. I am tired of people who do things they hate, because they think they should, or because they are afraid of the world’s judgements on them if they don’t. Get married, have babies, sculpt your body, do any of those things as long as you want them and they make you happy.
I may be fat and selfish but I don’t punish myself with guilt at every missed gym appointment or piece of cheese eaten or glass of wine drunk. I wasted too long doing that and it has been blissful to leave it all behind.
Life is beautiful, take pleasure in every bite, gorge and enjoy every mouthful. Don’t spend your time waiting for others to see your sacrifices, waiting for an outside vindication of your hard work. Empowering women, feminism, to me these are terms which refer to finding internal strength and battling the pressure to be ‘something’ or ‘someone’ we don’t want to be just because we think we should. I don’t want it all; I want the freedom to be myself because for me that is everything.