When my mom watches Angela Merkel on television, she always says something like “She is absolutely brilliant to come so far- as a woman!” or “Look, how great she’s dealing with all these guys! She’s a woman, and still, they all seem to bend over with respectfulness!”
I always found it kind of amusing how she points out Merkel’s femaleness all the time. Kind of backwards, eh? I was always like “My generation doesn’t even think in those dimensions anymore! Why would a woman not become chancellor of Germany?? What do you mean, how else should they treat her?”, trying to make her feel silly.
Well, mom, this along with when you pointed out that I did not understand The Unbearable Lightness of Being when I first read it at age 14, are the two times in my life you were right and I was not 😉
I admit it: My rejection of feminism as redundant and at times even counterproductive was very immature.
Studying critical psychology nudges the perspective you take on your life into a new angle. At the moment, I ask myself often how societal factors influenced my life path and my personality, so essentially my whole identity. One of those societal factors that I frequently stumble across is sexism.
Sexism is clearly present in my family, my education, my peers and the media that I consume: My dad thinks being emotional and caring are weaknesses, and my mom can’t truly forgive herself for not acquiring the same academic achievements as he did (disregarding her role as the glue that holds our family together); my (female!) maths teacher called me a “girl” as an insult, when I made it clear that I found relationships more important than academic achievements; having an opinion about politics made me stand out more among my peers than having an eating disorder; and don’t even get me started on the media.
So, no wonder I turned out to be a terrible sexist:
I look at a girl with straightened hair and elaborate make-up, and I naturally assume that she’s less intelligent than a fuzzy haired chick with ugly glasses.
It confuses me big time when a guy seems to know that decency is more than holding a door open for a girl. And if he even acts according to my understanding of decency, I secretly wonder if he’s gay.
I feel like I’m wasting time by using body lotion. Yes. Body lotion. Waste of time. I should be reading.
I can’t admit to my love for the color pink. While the publicly visible part of my closet is gender-neutral colored, my socks, pjs and underwear are all pink- so everything you don’t see. Some of them even have cupcakes on them. C u p c a k e s.
I can open a beer bottle in at least three different ways that don’t involve a bottle opener, and I have the sense of humor of a teenage boy, who can’t help laughing when someone’s name sounds remotely like his primary sexual organ. That is much easier for me to admit than the fact that tea cup pigs make me squeal with delight and I can braid my hair into a French braid without any help.
And all that is, because I was raised to believe that femininity is weak. Which is, clearly, bullshit and why feminism still makes sense.
Of course we’ve left the bra burning times behind us. I really appreciate a good bra, I couldn’t even run without one. And if it wasn’t for mascara, I wouldn’t know that I have eyelashes. I like having eyelashes. And, bitch, please- how much fun are dresses and shoes??
But I also suffered from bulimia nearly half of my life, because I thought I couldn’t be happy without fitting into a certain body outline. That was truly unemancipated.
I wanted to study something that involves natural sciences, because I thought my- quite typically female- qualities of being empathetic, nurturing and eloquent wouldn’t be enough to prove that I’m a clever girl.
And I still make weird excuses when I say that I don’t want to be a mom, because I secretly think that being a mom would distract me from the “important things in life”. How messed up is that?! That’s like sexism 2.0, right?
As long as there’s girls like me out there that think they can only be taken seriously if they deny their femininity, feminism is still necessary. I promise to be a better feminist in the future and will decorate my first office with flower prints in all shades of pink out of principle.