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.