I consider myself a feminist through and through, but I think we often have a very narrow view of what that looks like: an independent career woman who defies traditional gender roles. In reality, we have to remember that the only value that defines a feminist is the belief that there should be gender equality, and there’s nothing more feminist than living your life by your own rules.
Modern women are supposed to be career-driven.
In Western society, we’re taught to dream of success from an early age, with a narrow definition of what that success entails. In fact, “raising the leaders of tomorrow” has become a pretty universal phrase in the U.S. This isn’t just a feminist issue; men are definitely pressured to work towards this goal, as well. However, this pressure seems particularly strong among women these days, since we finally have the option to be “working women.”
I don’t feel the need to be a CEO or rise to the top.
I don’t want to manage other people or be the one solely responsible when things go wrong. I’m perfectly happy in the middle. I appreciate the flexibility, as well as the opportunity to work on a team of equals. Plus, we can’t all be leaders. Who would we manage?
I have a different definition of success.
My definition centers around having a strong work/life balance. I want to travel the world, fall in love, and spend as much time with friends and family as possible. Work is a big and important part of my life, but it’s certainly not my whole life.
I still take pride in my career.
I consider myself somewhat ambitious. Of course, I want to be good at what I do and move up to a solid position where I am challenged and financially comfortable. However, I don’t have to reach the top in order to feel like I’ve achieved these things. I only have to be hard-working and demonstrate integrity.
Feminism is about having the freedom to choose what you want.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to choose a certain path. Otherwise, that’s just replacing the historical limitation of having to stay at home with a new limitation of having to work outside the home. If I someday choose to be a stay at home mom out of my own free will, I think that’s perfectly respectable and even admirable.
Money and power don’t make me happy, personal connections and time do.
A career isn’t going to support me through rough emotional times or celebrate with me during the good. At the end of the day, work is work. Accomplishments are exciting and satisfying, but they’re also fleeting. Time and love are much more valuable. If I can’t “have it all” then I want to at least work towards my own personal priorities. It would be my worst nightmare to get to retirement, realizing I have tons of savings but no one to spend it with.
This doesn’t mean I would date a man who doesn’t respect my career and autonomy.
Even though I put love first, I’m still a strong, independent woman who can make my own money and wants to be successful in life. I need to date a man who understands this.
Nor does it mean that I think my career is less significant than my significant other’s.
When it comes to decisions that affect us both, both of our careers should be considered with equal weight. For instance, if we decided to have a child it would not be assumed that I would be the one to cut back on work. Similarly, our careers should be given equal importance if something like relocation were on the table.
Nor am I going to spontaneously run away with some guy and hope to live out my dreams.
I’m a romantic but I’m not foolish. Some guy I’m dating is not going to take first priority in my life. I do believe, though, that real love, including romantic love, friendships, family, and my passions, should be high priority.
It does mean that I’d rather spend time with my SO than slave 60 hour work weeks in hopes of a promotion.
I’m not the kind of person who “just wants to focus on my career right now.” I’d much prefer to work on deepening my relationships and pursuing my non-career-related dreams. If a job requires me to give up my life, then it’s just not the right job for me.
Being a feminist means respecting the choices of other women whether you agree with them or not.
If one woman chooses to leave behind a promising career to run off with a man, that’s her choice and it does not hurt feminism. What does hurt feminism is condemning her for following her own personal goals and values. Feminism is not about making other women feel pressured into following a certain life path.
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