I have always been a self-proclaimed feminist -- one who champions the success of other women and strives to empower them through a range of activities, such as volunteer work at a women's shelter and pursuing entrepreneurship focused on women's needs. I have never encountered a situation in which I was so misunderstood as a result of making such a claim until now. I did not expect it to happen at this point in my life, and by a man whom I had grew fond of -- someone whose conservative stance (and other shortcomings) I overlooked for the purpose of being open-minded. To my surprise, this person was not as equally progressive. Could it be true? Are there still men who oversimplify the complexity of women and group us into imaginary categories to make poor assumptions and then conclusions? Unfortunately, yes. I was perceived as a Type A, career-oriented, intense feminist who lacked the "softer" side of being a woman. Yikes, I didn't realize my ambition, admiration of Hillary Clinton and advocacy of women's issues could be seen as mutually exclusive to my maternal instincts and desire to have a family and kids. I am just more vocal about one over the other. I like Excel spreadsheets as much as I like baking, is that a problem?
Is it a lose-lose situation when we want it all -- a career and family -- but are only vocal about the less intimate part, our career? When a woman mentions wanting a family, it creates pressure around the idea of a ticking biological clock. Yet, when the topic of our future is dominated by professional aspirations, we are mistaken for caring only about our career. What's a gal to do? I'll tell you -- free yourself from those misconceptions and just be you, authentically and whole-heartedly. As I have said in the past, you should surround yourself with people who celebrate, value and encourage the best qualities in you. They will see you for who you really are and take the time to understand what you truly want. If you feel you have been misunderstood and expected to behave in a certain way, it is time to do something about it.
Gentlemen, we can have a career AND a family -- being vocal about our career endeavors does not mean we care less about having a family. It simply means we are mindful of not wanting to scare you away with the pressure of urgency. And perhaps you have not earned the pleasure of hearing and understanding what we want in life. We are all distinct creatures -- do not assume we will behave a certain way based on a few qualities.
I am a feminist... and so much more.