Oh, boy. There's been an advent of articles lately that seem custom-made to shame women. Mrs. Hall's post addressed to all the girls her sons interact with, for one. Six Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College, for another. And it makes me sad. I have regular conversations about feminism, slut-shaming and misogyny on social media with many people, and it becomes more and more apparent to me that misogyny is still the default in a lot of situations. It's also becoming apparent to me that the other side, the feminists working tirelessly to get rid of misogyny, are going too far in the other direction and trying to dictate what women should do and be. Enough, already.
Here are 6 reasons why there's no wrong way to be the woman you are.
1. You can believe whatever the hell you want. Do you want to live a clean and religious life? Okay. Go for it. Do you want to burn your bras and swing naked on wrecking balls? Awesome. The problem lies in trying to convert everyone else to your thinking, and it also lies in trying to shame other women for not buying into your beliefs. We're lucky in the first world, because we do have the freedom to believe and say whatever we want to say. But there's still an underlying problem of believing that only one way is the right way. There is no wrong way. There's only trying to impose that on everyone else. I'm guilty of this, too, and through my conversations with other women and men, I'm trying to hold fast to my beliefs while seeing other points of view. It's hard. But believing in what you think is important is amazing. There is no wrong way to be who you are.
2. You can dress however the hell you want. Do you want to wear a hijab or a burqa? Do you feel better when your head is covered? Do you want to wear next to nothing on a hot day? Do you feel most comfortable when you wear leggings under a skirt, or do you feel most like yourself in a thong and high heels? It doesn't matter. No clothing is more or less likely to make you more or less of a woman. And you can be whatever weight you want. Real women are just women. Enough with this appearance-shaming. Enough with fat- and thin-shaming. Have a bunch of tattoos and piercings, or don't. Your choice! I read something recently that said there's no wrong way to have a body. There isn't. There's no wrong way to dress it, either. And saying so buys into the thought that women need to dress and look a certain way in order to be desirable. I guarantee, someone will find you desirable no matter how you look -- and who cares if they find you desirable? You're the only one who should be pleased and comfortable with the way you look. There is no wrong way to be who you are.
3. You can do whatever the hell you want. And this is probably something I struggle with most. I've been shamed for writing what I do. I've been shamed for saying what I've said. And some of what I've said hasn't been in line with my beliefs of equality and tolerance, so I have tried to learn from it and not say those things again. But why shouldn't women be engineers and writers and musicians and doctors?
Why should they be gently dissuaded from doing sports or from speaking their minds? Every woman has something to bring to the table. No one is less than anyone else (and that goes for everyone in the human race, too). I was once asked why I think I can speak for all women. I don't think I can speak for every women's opinion, but damned if I'm going to shut up because someone thinks I should. As a woman, you don't have to be silenced because someone else thinks you should be. You can scream your opinion from the rooftops, no matter what it is! There is no wrong way to be who you are.
4. You can love whoever the hell you want. Straight, bi, gay, trans -- it doesn't matter. And you can love in whatever way makes you happy. Love a lot of people at once. Love only one. Love no one. Love everyone. Be kinky, or be vanilla. (Just make sure you're loving people that can consent to your love, because women are capable of sexual abuse, too.) Who cares if boys are "tempted" by the wonderful woman you are? That doesn't mean you can't be who you are, dress how you want, and say what you feel. There's no wrong way to be who you are.
5. You can take pride in whatever the hell you want. And pride is not a sin. Pride in yourself, your accomplishments, and what you say is important. It means you have integrity to stand up for what you believe in. It means that what you create is something you stand behind. It means that even if you struggle, you have something to hang onto. Pride is downplayed, especially when it comes to women, because we're supposed to be meek and mild. If you are meek and mild, that's awesome. But if you're not meek and mild, that's awesome, too. Have pride in who you are, and don't listen to anyone who says you need to be a certain way to matter. There is no wrong way to be who you are.
6. You can listen to whoever the hell you want. If you are religious, that's awesome. If you are not religious, that's cool, too. If you take your advice from Internet celebrities, or doctors, or friends, or family, then that's your choice and that's not wrong. I hope you listen most to yourself, but I know how hard that can be. Sometimes my self tells me lies. I need to straighten myself out. But that's my journey. Yours might be different. You might try to take others with you. You might walk your path alone. And all of that is so amazing, because there's no wrong way to be who you are!
Women come from all walks of life and all beliefs and cultures. We are all shapes and sizes. We all hold different things dear, love different people, and dress in different styles. And maybe we've all bought into the culture of trying to tell others what to do. But in the end, it's yourself you answer to at the end of the day. It's yourself that you need to examine when it comes to behaviours and beliefs. And there's no wrong way to do that. Do whatever you need to do to feel okay with yourself. Feminism, to me, is cheering everyone on, even if I don't agree. That's something that I reconcile to myself at the end of my day. That's something I'm willing to stand for. I may not agree with you, and I may say I don't, but I still believe you can hold the opinions you hold. I don't believe in limits when it comes to being a woman.
There's no wrong way to be who you are.