Unpacking the “And”: Feminine and Fierce

Ever since I understood what feminism means - and I mean the real, intersectional, equality for all women and not the white-washed ‘feminism’- I knew I stood behind the movement immediately. With this world-breaking drive, though, comes a large umbrella of concepts that get tricky and uncomfortable for some people to unpack. Femininity is one of those.

In our society’s past, there has been this great deal of stigma based stereotypes with women expressing femininity while also identifying as a feminist. The shame is supposed to target a woman who might preach about ‘hating men’ or the revolutionary act of women being more manly and fierce…while also loving men or “girly” activities/traits. This stereotype of what a feminist can and can’t look like is important to break because it only separates and defeats the point of this equality-for-all movement.

Many people still believe that women who participate in traditionally feminine activities are only doing so to fit the mold made by a culture that pushes the idea of what a woman is supposed to be or do in order to cater to the male gaze. This logic is faulty though. It’s important to find empowerment in living your own life on your own terms. This idea of only being able to call yourself a feminist if you want to destroy the traditionally “male” roles is outdated and takes the cause a step backward.

When I was in high school I ended up downplaying some of my interests because I was afraid people would take me less seriously or find me less “cool” (whatever that even is). I ended up despising the color pink and wanted nothing more than to seem 100% uninterested in anything that could be “girly.” This was the result of internalized sexism. I didn't realize until much later in my college career that these mannerisms I picked up were because of the connotation attached to being feminine. It was in my best interest to act this way to seem mature and aging into an intellectual adult. This sexism is a deeply rooted concept that lays in the presumption that the idea of being a female itself and femininity are inferior to, and only exist for the sexual interest of, maleness and masculinity. It paints a picture of a Legally Blonde-inspired, makeup and facials needing-woman, who wears pink as a tribute to the men she is trying to earn attention from.

Here’s the thing- there's nothing wrong with wanting to fit into these feminine stereotypes. Wearing the pearls and heels while rocking that new lipstick is not anything to be ashamed of. There is also no harm in whether or not you choose to shave, however you choose to dress, how often you wear makeup, or how much you love shopping or painting your nails. There is nothing wrong with being what is considered traditionally feminine or going against those things. The entire point of the feminist movement is to give women these options. Being able to be fierce and feminine is what feminism is all about- the option to be unapologetically you. As a feminist, I refuse to let any stereotype influence my feminism; that would defeat the purpose of what I have been and will continue fighting for.