Okay, I've had a while to think some of this through. Actually a few nights ago I woke up at 3 am and had my thoughts all sorted out. However, I kept arguing with myself that I shouldn't get up and write them down because I needed to get back to sleep. I had promised the kids that we would go to the zoo that day and I wanted to be well rested for the outing. And sure enough, here I am grasping for those cohesive thoughts.
Having said this, I can remember one thing that I was going to say, so maybe I can start and then (hopefully) things will work themselves out. So, here it goes.
I came to the conclusion that there is no way to define a feminist or a woman and that the popular idea of "defining oneself" is a false one. There are people who feel the need to say they are X, Y or Z. No you're not. You are a human being who likes X, or is Y by birth or Z by deliberate choice because you despise Y but ultimately you are not any of those things. You are someone, not a list of adjectives whose definitions can be blurred or misunderstood.
Secondly, what I thought it meant to be a woman 20 years ago at the age of 21 is drastically different from what I know it to be now at the age of 41. So what a 21 year old believes with her limited life experience and a what 41 year old believes with 20 additional years can and should be worlds apart. There comes a point when one must take off their rose colored glasses instead of upping the prescription. I think I reached that somewhere in my late 30's.
And lastly, which sort of ties in with the second point, there seems to already exist certain conditions that one must meet in order to be regarded as a "feminist". For the same reason I am a registered Independent when it comes to voting, I refuse to be categorized within the constructs of what society has predetermined to a feminist. I hold certain beliefs because I have either experienced something personally and know it to be true or have been close to people who have experienced something that really blew away my preconceived notions of what I had thought to be true. That is what life is about and why we should always be free to change our minds without fear of being called a hypocrite.
With this in mind it is imperative that we avoid demeaning or belittling women whose actions appear contrary to our belief system. We have no idea what it is like to be them. I am not suggesting that we sit by idly and watch someone self-destruct through addiction or that we not teach our children from our own mistakes. Nor am I saying we should keep our opinions to ourselves. There is always room for honest discussion and debate if people are willing to listen and not judge. But once we start name-calling and casting people into hell, we destroy each other. One of my biggest pet peeves EVER is when someone I don't know well (or at all!) says to me "You shouldn't feel that way about such-and-such. How can you believe such a thing!" How do you know how I should feel? Do you know how I arrived at this juncture and all the extenuating circumstances? Unless it someone close to the situation that can provide an honest perspective, no celebrity or public figure has the right to assert that my beliefs or feelings about something should be one way or another. And quite frankly, we shouldn't be turning to pop culture for any sort of advice about anything. Unfortunately that is all we have and it is in our face. That's what's next. The fantasy created by our culture and how it further enslaves women.
See you soon!