Society Magazine

Can Anyone Can Be The ‘Perfect’ Feminist?

Posted on the 01 May 2015 by Juliez
Can Anyone Can Be The ‘Perfect’ Feminist?

None of us can be Rosie all the time

Do you ever feel like you owe something to second wave feminists? I do and often think of these women who changed the world before I act. I wonder if someone who lived through some of the most revolutionary moments of the 20th century would approve of my choices. Even when I give advice to friends, I may preface my suggestion with a phrase like, “I think the feminist thing to do is…”

But what if my natural instinct is not in line with a traditional, feminist response? If the whole idea of feminism is that women are equal to men, shouldn’t the “most feminist” action be whatever feels right to that individual woman? Isn’t that how men determine how they will act? Sometimes I worry that feminists try so hard to fit an idealized version of the “powerful, 21st century woman” — of the “perfect feminist” — that we end up exaggerating our actions in an inauthentic way.

Take, for example, Hillary Clinton. She is by far one of the women I admire most in this country. However, she forgave her husband after the whole world found out he had an affair with his intern. Did she forgive him out of pure love? Or did she know she needed him to launch the successful career she has now?

The hit ABC show ‘Scandal’ seems to have a theory about this dynamic. The fictional First Lady in this show knows that her husband is in love with another woman and is having an affair, but stays admittedly not out of love but desire for power and for her own career and future successes.

Women may not have these exact same problems in their daily lives, but we certainly all face this type of dilemma: How do we compromise our true feelings with what we feel we should be doing — not just based on society’s sexist standards, but on idealistic standards of what it means to be a feminist? Maybe the “perfect feminist” would leave a cheating husband. But that decision, beyond being emotionally complex, certainly comes with sacrifices that have implications about power. In a word, it’s complicated.

I don’t have an answer. But I also have no problem with that. The fact that I can even ask this question, that I face this dilemma, is undoubtedly progress. Questioning this and engaging in dialog about it is fundamental to continuing the fight the powerful women before us started. That my peers and I are conscious of and will even go out of our way to ensure our strength as women is something that should be celebrated. Believing in gender equality and strength, not superiority, is what will propel feminism forward.

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