As many of you may know, today (March 8) is International Women’s Day! Although you won’t see me belting out the lyrics to I Am Woman any time soon, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on this day and its meaning to me personally. I don’t claim to be a particularly hardcore feminist, but I am prouder than ever to be a young woman in 2013, where I can take control of my own life and decisions. We may be a far cry from total gender equality, but we have come a long way.
In 1588, Queen Elizabeth I said, “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.” Elizabeth ruled without a husband, and it is sad to think that the strength she demonstrated during her reign had to be compared to that of a king, rather than that of a queen. During the present day, women can focus on their careers, on attaining professional success rather than raising families, and I believe that they will be encouraged to do so even more in the years to come.
I also believe that one of feminism’s greatest setbacks comes from the judgments of other women. Being a woman does not mean that you have to fit one particular stereotype, and I hate seeing the rigidity of our gender norms. While some believe that femininity means wearing dresses and taking care of one’s husband, others believe that women should live completely independent of men and that by wearing makeup and “girly” clothes, they are objectifying themselves. Ultimately, as women, we need to respect the preferences of one another and allow each other to express ourselves as we see fit. I love wearing sun dresses, I usually don’t leave the house without makeup and at times I’m a little boy crazy, but I also am fully committed to finding a fulfilling career and balancing that with family life. Other women may feel differently, and that’s okay.
For this year’s International Women’s Day, I hope we can remember to respect one another as women and to stand by each other, even if our lifestyles don’t match up!