On this very fine day we celebrate the fight to uphold the beauty, gentleness, ferocity, and complexity of women. Today got me thinking about the litany of my fellow ladies out in the world, past and present, who own their actions, drive the course of their own life, and embody the pure freedom of being nothing other than one’s true self.
Too often is feminism used as just another box to put women into. A “good” feminist doesn’t dress too provocatively. A “good” feminist defies tradition, aggressively shouts her opinions, and lacks a sense of sweetness. The problem seems to be so many are focusing on typifying the perfect feminist, and entirely missing the point of what this movement is meant to perpetuate: the right to just be.
What sounds better, what is more inspiring, than a fleet of women with stock in each other, and stock in the gamut of dreams and goals we all have? How quickly this fight for equality becomes the fight to carve a model of what each of us women should be. The only thing the movement should be telling any woman to be is strong. And liberated. And unshackled. The movement should tell women that the constructs of the past are dead, and our bindings along with it.
And it isn’t just about a blind entitlement, because in my opinion, that’s what men have, and that hasn’t gone too well for them. It’s about justice and togetherness and trying and failing and living and creating and fighting, passionately fighting for our well-deserved place in the world.
It’s not just about social posts and poignantly spun puns (I do understand that I preach this from my very ironic medium of a blog post, but bear with me nonetheless). It isn’t just about your trendy feminist T-shirt or steely attitude toward the patriarchy (though I’m the first to admit that in moderation, those things are also wonderful). If all International Women’s Day means to you is a post on instagram or an edgy excuse to cut class, I’m afraid you’re going to need to try a bit harder to make any real change, darling.
My mother always told me that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. And by God, how steadfastly did that woman rock me from the moment I opened my eyes to a blindingly brilliant, delicious world all the way until this day, this moment, this second. But if the hand that rocks the cradle is too busy scrolling down her newsfeed, I fear she is missing the real work that needs to be done.
I’m not even just speaking of mothers. I’m talking about our affect on each other. You can rock the person standing next to you in line for coffee, rock the little baby girl that smiles at you from her stroller, so oblivious to how difficult it is to be you. But let her think it’s easy for now. Let her think it’s wonderful to be a living breathing, sexy aspect of this regressing, progressing, whip-lash victim that is our society. Because if you average out all the bullshit, it really is wonderful.
Let us be the Scarlett O’Haras, confident, fearless, and resolute, let us allow ourselves to be rash at times. May we learn to be the Olivia Popes, straight handling the most fucked up nonsensical scandals life may hurl. I want us to be Daenerys Targaryen… naked and the good kind of ashy, commanding dragons, freeing the oppressed! And go ahead and be actual real people too; be Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Abigail Adams, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Coretta Scott King…
Better yet, be everything and nothing, uncatchable like smoke. Be women of agency…women who know the choices they make, even if they do not always love them. But rock the cradle with a fearless hand, and leave the world the better for your rhythm.