My Kind of Feminism

By Abina George

Society has expectations of everyone. Men are expected to be breadwinners, women are expected to care for the family, and children are expected to behave. Cultures have a different protocol for members of its society. There are common rules to follow and typically less friction as a result. These same societies create guidelines for what’s acceptable among its members. But societies around the world put disproportionate pressures on women.

I grew up with the obligation of caring for my mother and grandmother. Each had their own medical impairments and specific needs. Family, particularly women, are always expected to be the primary caregiver and for good reason. Who would you trust with the care of loved ones more than your family? But while caring for my family’s matriarchs was left to me, along with managing finances and medications, there was no focus on my needs. Instead, I was met with comments like, “If you’d wear more makeup, you’d have a boyfriend,” or “Guys will be more interested if you lost 5 pounds.” There was no regard for my personal wellbeing, just the societal status that was granted to those in relationships and the conventionally beautiful.

The expectations of society and men were just another burden for me to bear. Therefore, I decided that I do not have to submit to society’s arbitrary expectations. I’m not going to shave my legs for you. The makeup I wear isn’t for your approval. I couldn’t care less whether you like my body. I don’t paint my nails to be used as a disposable icon for your cause. I am not a tool for you to use whenever convenient. I could never offer up my body to be used by someone, especially without consideration for my personal needs. I will not be your trophy. I'm not obligated to speak of my personal horrors or trauma for the personal gain of others. I have a right to self-care.

Women are oftentimes designated as caregivers but who is dedicated to caring for them? Expectations and responsibilities are given without the support to do so while keeping ourselves whole and healthy. My capabilities and talents are judged first by my ability to reproduce and often limited to this ability.

Feminism is not an option for me. I must live my life in a way that is advantageous to me. I will not change my appearance or temperament to be more appealing to men or give men a higher place in our social hierarchy. I am an intelligent woman with a voice that will be heard and resonate with my community. I should not lay myself at the feet of others just to be trampled.

There are those that think that by standing up for yourself, you are being inconsiderate to others but if you are not caring for yourself who will? Who will make sure that your career opportunities are furthered, or your health is prioritized? Many of us have families we care for and or careers to advance but how can we truly be successful if we ourselves are not whole and tended to?

I refuse to be an afterthought in my community. It is time my welfare is a precedence. Don’t tell me I'm beautiful for a Black girl or for a tall girl. Don’t tell me I’d be prettier if I plucked my eyebrows or I’d find a man if I only wasn’t so opinionated. I will do what I need and want to improve my health and further my career. I'm beautiful regardless of your narrow concepts of what is deemed beautiful. Because you only see what is fed to you as the ideal of beauty, I will prosper comfortably away from your constrictive stance.

THIS ARTICLE IS RELATED TO: feminist women, feminist movement, strong feminist women,  black feminism, black feminist