Am I A Feminist Or Not? You Tell Me

Woman in Water by Ton Haex on Flickr

Woman in Water by Ton Haex on Flickr

I’m not sure what it means to be a feminist anymore.  With all the good and bad that’s happened since the first suffragettes took up the fight, I’m not sure if wearing lipstick is a call to arms or a betrayal of everything we stand for.  I know I try my best every day, I know some days can feel like a prizefight, and I know I make compromises that I don’t always feel comfortable making.  I know I think about what makeup I’ll put on based on what I’ve got to deal with during the day.  I know I think about what to wear because I need a feminine look to counteract my aggressive demeanor.  I know I think every day about how people will perceive me as a woman, and what impact that will have on my job, and I tailor my appearance accordingly.  I don’t know if that’s a step forward or a step back.  What I know is that I’m a woman, I believe in what I’m doing, and I try to do the right thing both as a woman and as a professional.  Does anyone else wonder if you can do both?

There’s been a sort of Mad Men effect on women’s fashion and beauty in the past few years, and I think there’s been a Mad Men effect on the perception of women in general as well.  You might think I mean that women are seen as more submissive because of this, but I don’t.  I think (and have mercy because I don’t have a television, so I’m going by what people say) that seeing women confronted with starker examples of sexism than the more subtle forms we deal with today has advanced the feminist cause by showing that we face a real struggle.  It was clearer when men swilled liquor and puffed on cigars, but it’s still there, and you can hear echoes from the show in office halls and boardrooms today.  For instance, any woman who works in a male-dominated profession knows that acting confident is going to get you labeled as a bitch.  It doesn’t matter that it isn’t true.  What matters is that, when you beat a man, that’s the easiest road for him to take to try to bring you down.  People who are worth beating don’t say things like that, but statistically speaking, the people who say things like that are the ones you’re most likely to beat, so you have to get used to it.  But let me say it here, so there’s no mistake:  IT ISN’T TRUE.

Some days, I acknowledge, I’m a bitch.  Some days I’m your best friend.  Sometimes I watch sad movies just so I can cry at them, and sometimes I pick a fight because it’s been too quiet and I want to make things interesting.  I’m a woman.  I’m a professional.  I’m a feminist, and I’m feminine.  I’m every bit as good as you are, and if you underestimate me, I’ll grab you by the neck and wipe the floor with your face, so why don’t you just try me and see if I’m bluffing.  I’ll do it in lipstick and heels, because I like to look good when I kick ass, and I’ll do it in a poufy skirt because I think they’re pretty.  I’ll do it in front of your girlfriend because she might as well find out now.  I’ll do it in front of your friends so they’ll think twice before they start anything with me.  I’ll do it because I want to, because it makes me happy, because it’s who I am.  Don’t think for a second that I’ll hesitate to do it because someone else won’t like it.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I’m telling you:  I get the best results when I act like what I am.  A woman, a person, a fighter.  Me.

How to rant effectively

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m looking out for you guys.  I want you all to lead happy and fulfilling lives, and I want to spare you from the pain and trauma that exist around every corner in this world.  So here is today’s life lesson:

What with the election season heating up and all the controversy over transvaginal ultrasounds and Tim Tebow being traded and all the other drama going on in our complicated little lives, we’ve seen a number of very passionate monologues, dialogues, arguments, discussions, and flat-out rants lately.  They’re on TV, at home, at work, in church, waiting in line at the grocery store…you haven’t lived until you’ve had a gut-wrenching, no-holds-barred debate on Kim Kardashian’s marriage with the lady at the next table in the coffee shop, and then you realize at the end of it that not only have you never seen each other before that day, you haven’t even bothered to exchange names.

So because I want to help you on your path to spiritual enlightenment, here is my advice:  if you’re going to go on a rant, be it televised or otherwise, make sure you dress up.  I get a lot of free entertainment out of watching people go on television in bad suits and uncombed hair, giving longwinded diatribes on the proper method of vermin control or whatever hot button issue, but a rant inevitably ends up with the ranter sounding like a crazy person with his or her voice hitting that register that only other nutjobs can hear.  If your hair is all shiny and styled and your makeup is done, maybe you’ve got a particularly flattering shirt on, no matter how crazy you sound, you will still come off as reasonable.  This is because people don’t actually pay attention to the content of what other people say.  Politicians have been taking advantage of this fact for centuries.

This also holds true if you just happen to be in the lunchroom at work and someone wants to bring up the latest idiot comment that [Insert politician/celebrity of choice’s name here] said.  If you’re having a bad hair day, or your tie is loose or there’s a run in your pantyhose, you’re going to come across as disheveled and unstable.  If you’re all power-suited up and you’re wearing your diamond earrings and you actually bothered to curl your lashes that day, you can say whatever you want and someone’s going to nod along with you.  Ranting is all about image.  You don’t want to be the crazy-homeless-person-ranter.  You want to be the clever, witty, insightful ranter who could have your own television show if you weren’t too busy doing work that matters.

So there’s your life lesson for the day: rant with style and you, too, could end up with a special broadcast on Yahoo, filmed in front of a hand-selected audience who will laugh and clap sycophantically.  Or else you’ll just rule the lunch room.  If you haven’t managed to pull it quite together, bite your tongue and live to rant another day.  But always rant responsibly.  Here endeth the lesson.