To close the Double Bind series, I figured we would end on a rather polarizing note. Whether you like the word, hate the word, or aren't sure what word I'm even talking about, this concluding article is here for educational purposes only.
And maybe to change a few opinions.
Ok, a lot of them.
Ok, all of the opinions.
Advocacy: Public vs. Private
(The Bra Burning Man Hater vs. The Ignorant Girl Traitor)
noun: feminism, fem·i·nism /feməˌnizəm/: The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
As all of you have heard a thousand and one times, Time Magazine pseudo-recently asked Divergent star Shailene Woodley whether or not she considered herself a feminist. Here is segment of her answer:
"No, because I love men, and I think the idea of 'raise women to power, take the men away from the power' is never going to work out because you need balance."
Ooook. I am not here to add to the incessant rants against this lovely boho-chic actress, (even though my jaw totally grazed my faux hard wood floors), but instead, I want to thank her. Whether or not she secretly understands the actual definition of feminism, Woodley gracefully articulated the current state of female empowerment.
If you admit to being a "feminist," or as sociologist Marianne Cooper coins, "The F Word," you might as well yell from the highest tree top that you are a BRA-BURNING, MALE-BASHING, POETRY-READING, LIBERAL-CRAZED, ESPRESSO-DRINKING, GRANOLA HIPPIE WHO WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN TO CUT OFF EVERY MAN'S PENIS!!!!!!
But, if you don't admit or consider yourself a feminist, you are bashed by any female advocate known to existence and might as well hate your own kind. Yeah, you ignorant girl traitors.
It took me YEARS to admit that I was a feminist. I hated the word, I hated the stigma, and above all I hated what I thought it meant. After years of education, research, and soul-searching, I am proudly coming out of the closet. Of course I want the equal treatment of the sexes. It would seem odd to want anything else. And, I dearly hope with sprinkles on top that other women declare themselves as proud feminists, too.
So, to end the confusion and unfairness over female empowerment, I am going to ask you to do the one thing you reallyyyyy don't want to do. But it's necessary.
Girls, we must speak up. Each of us has our own personality, style, interests, and lifestyles. Think about if we ALL proclaimed that we value equality of the sexes through the label of feminism! We could eliminate the stigma of the word, the meaning, and above all, that we don't like men! (This excludes your mean ex-boyfriends, FYI. You don't have to like them if you don't want to. Promise.)
Ok, so now that we have wrapped up the four part series of the Female Double Bind (thanks for reading all of them and if you didn't, tisk, tisk), I am ready to give you some of the good stuff. The stuff that doesn't make the girls feel completely hopeless and super sad. You know, the solution stuff.
We obviously shouldn't face these double binds alone. And we definitely shouldn't let our daughters face them alone, either. For starters, these double binds become draining and exhausting after awhile, and we need each other's support. Plus we can't create a movement without all of us in it together.
But... what the heck do we do? Well, funny my lame narration should rhetorically ask for you! I shall gladly answer. Here is what my super smart colleagues and I came up with:
1. Educate our youth
We need to consider the messages we are sending to our younger girls. Sheryl Sandberg's #banbossy is one example of starting a revolution to help our daughters' confidence. Whether or not you loved that particular message, we need some more of these conversation starters. By the way -- it's totally ok and expected that not all of us have a catchy media team or the social clout to start a hashtag frenzy. We wish.
Instead, we can match our daughters with feminist life coaches or mentors. Beginning on an individual basis is a great way to teach female empowered values and principles to the next generation. Instead of our daughter seeing her reflection in society, she can learn how to understand herself, and reflect herself onto society. And that can be done through the power of personal discovery, goal setting, and coaching. We must make sure our girls are exposed to women fighting off the double binds early in life so they do not become entrapped in them later.
Let's make sure our daughters can walk across the barriers we are breaking down today.
2. Spread the word
We need to talk to our friends, moms, coworkers, and partners about the double binds and cultural standards as-much-as-possible. Read and share articles like this one to increase awareness. Start conversations that matter. Ignite the fire. Piss haters off. The more people are talking about these double binds, the more social currency they have, and the more prepared and ready we are to slap them around. Get 'em, girls.
3. Surround ourselves with support
Most importantly, make sure to surround yourself with women and mentors who understand and challenge the female double binds. We need motivation to reach our goals while keeping in mind the cultural obstacles, and we need it every day. Our social group can foster the inspiration and energy we need to fight back, and you can do the same for them. And, just like your daughter, get yourself a life coach or a mentor who will push you to not accept closed doors. We need to be told that barriers can be broken, we need to be encouraged to go for it, and we need guidance to help us get there. Not only must we "lean in" -- we must lean on each other for support.
To every woman out there reading this, you are a role model. Influence as much as you can, and know you always have writers like me cheering you on from your computer. Thank you for being a woman willing to fight for your gender -- you're a garden rose.
Missed any of the Double Bind series? Then I am mad at you. But you can get out of the dog house by reading them now:
If you're looking for a place to start the movement, come visit me and the super-sized Double Bind article here.