Stereotyping Women in Feminist Movement

There are many things in my life I am thankful for.

For one, there’s the fact that I was able to attend school in the first place. I can also hold a job, vote, join the Army, own property, and do many other things that I hardly even think of as being “progressive.”

But, as a woman, it’s difficult to realize that these rights were not always a given; although men were born with the ability to do the abovementioned, women had to carve their way through history in order for us to arrive at the point we are today.

That being said, I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the feminists who have come before me that have enabled myself and other women to become who they want to be. The opportunities women have now, compared to even just a generation or two ago, are innumerable.

The feminist movement is still alive and well today and was a large part of the 2012 election. Feminist issues tackling ideas such as rape culture, birth control, government involvement, abortion, and more have hit the scene as very popular, and very heated, topics of discussion.

I don’t doubt that some of these ideas are extraordinarily important to the well-being of this country. And I don’t doubt that feminists have the best intentions at heart to promote equality for both sexes.

But in the 21st century, where women’s rights are undeniably enforced, the feminist movement is becoming more “anything you can do I can do better” than the initial equality-for-all movement.

I think it’s great we have women in the Senate. It’s a feat that women are now successful doctors, lawyers, and business owners, because that truly illustrates equality for both sexes.

But I also think it’s awesome for the women that want to be secretaries, nurses, teachers, or other “traditional” women jobs that predominated in the early 20th century. I think it’s fine for women to stay home, raise a family and take care of the house and never have jobs, if that’s what they want to do.

To me, equality for all is not about numbers of women in the Senate. It’s simply about women having the option to be there. I don’t mind that finance, law, and business are still fields dominated by men, because “male-dominated” no longer means that women cannot hold those jobs as well. That is the true feminist movement, the one that gave women options – not the one that took them away.

Suddenly it’s “anti-feminist” to be a stay-at-home mom or make women jokes, meaning those are two things I have to avoid now in order to show maximum respect for womankind. It’s also an unspoken idea that I shouldn’t like puffy dresses, drink tea, or enjoy the company of cats because that’s just too stereotypical (though my Pinterest account says otherwise).

In truth, feminists make me feel guilty for being a successful woman, because in the back of my mind the feminist movement demands some sort of dues, some homage to their work that I don’t want to give to the current travesty that is feminism.

I want to respect how far we’ve come in the last couple of centuries. I don’t care that we are not tit-for-tat with men. I don’t care that medical schools are now seeing a 50/50 ratio of male to female students. I don’t care whether birth control is covered by insurance or not.

What I do care about is that my options are in no way limited because of my gender. I can be the president, a CEO, a lawyer, a construction worker, or a secretary if I want. It is the choices feminism creates for women to be able to naturally move forward instead of forcing themselves like square pegs in round holes that should be at the heart of the feminist movement.

I want to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it, because that is what gender equality truly means.

Molly Robinson is a native of Wheeling and a student at West Virginia University. She has been published in WVU’s undergraduate literary magazine the Calliope and is the opinion editor for the Daily Athenaeum. When not writing, she can be found buried beneath piles of organic chemistry homework in the campus library or looking at pictures of cats online.