But this image below seduced me back in:
Brilliant women. Smart women. Creative women. Strong women. Worthy women. Gifted women.
What’s not to love? Feminists are invested in creating a new feminine experience for themselves, their daughters, their mothers and their sisters.
Creating is the key word.
The feminist movement is sometimes painful, sometimes ugly and sometimes bitchy. So is birth. So are most acts of creating something new. Feminism is by its very essence, stepping into the unknown.
The movement is contentious and discontented precisely because it is born of discontent. While we glamorize the past, and there were some pleasurable things about previous gender roles (even if many are fictitious and romanticized), it only worked for some people. It didn’t work for everyone. Obviously, there was and is a huge faction of the population which wasn’t being served by the status quo—or they wouldn’t have wanted to change it.
This is the United States of America, in which we are self-governed. Which means the very essence of us is about creating our own experiences, our own lives and our own value system. The United States itself was born of discontent. Had we been content with our role as colonies, we would still be colonies today. But, we’re an independent sort of people who believe in radical ideas like the right to pursue happiness and the right to equality and the right of free speech and the right to self-govern. We have chosen this. We collectively share this vision and that’s what makes it so powerful.
Abraham Maslow, a father of psychology, studied self-actualization. During his research he discovered that the happiest people are those who paid attention to their own discontent. But self-actualization isn’t simply about noticing that people didn’t like the way things were; it was the fact that this set of people did something about it. If they hated their marriage, they divorced. If they hated their jobs, they quit. If they didn’t like what city they lived in, they moved.
The happiest people were not the ones with a perfect set of circumstances. They were the ones who exerted power over their circumstances. In other words, they changed. They sought something better. Even if it was scary, imperfect and hard. Happy people place a high value on their right to pursue happiness.
That is what feminism is. It is a movement of people who have noticed that part of the way culture, politics, speech, media, economics, social hierarchies, religion, families and sexuality simply isn’t working for them as it currently is.
Feminists are people who are exerting power over their circumstances. When we set out to invent something new and unheard of—a self-governing democracy—no one expected that it would be easy or perfect. The way was unpaved. The pitfalls were as yet undiscovered.
Yet we somehow held to a vision. A cohesive vision of what it should be like, what it could be like.
As with America herself, the Feminist movement is divided on many issues. So is the Democratic party. So is the Republican party. This discourse, this discontented back and forth is what makes our self-government a safe and healthy process. In fact, it is how we designed it on purpose. So it is with Feminism.
Feminism is not the end result. Feminism is the art of discontent. Feminism is the power of taking action to create something better. Feminism is the exploration. Feminism is the journey.
Feminism is the discourse.
Tracee Sioux is an Authentic Power Life Coach, author of Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories; and she blogs atTheGirlRevolution.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stop the Gap image via Wikimedia Commons. Other images via Tracee Sioux with permission.