What This Woman Wants

I want to be able to wear pink, lace, lipstick and/or high heels if I feel like it.
But I do not want to feel like it is either wrong or obligatory to wear pink, lace, lipstick or high heels simply because I am a woman.

I do not want to be fat and/or out of shape.
But I do not want to feel like I need to be rail thin and/or perfectly sculpted in order to be beautiful.

I want to be paid the same amount as the men who do the same level of work that I do.
But I do not want to be expected to do the work in exactly the same way if I feel that there is a more appropriate way for me to approach the problem.

I want to enjoy watching "chick flicks" and reading Shopaholic if I am in the mood.
But I do not want to be expected to like something simply because it is written by and/or about other women.

I want to feel free to wear a veil over my hair if it is cold outside or the scarf goes with my outfit or it feels appropriate in context, e.g. a mosque or a church.
But I do not want to be required to wear a veil simply because I am a woman nor do I want it to be read as a statement about my religious beliefs (unless it is).

I want to be able to make my home as comfortable and well-decorated as possible.
But I do not want to have making my home be my only or even primary occupation.

I want to be a mother (and am).
But I do not want to be defined solely as a mother or to be considered less committed to my career than men who also have families. Nor do I want to be considered less than a feminist because I am a mother.

I want to be competitive without feeling that it is wrong to want to win.
But I don't want to feel like everything in life has to be a competition.

I want to be able to have the same last name as my husband.
But I do not want to have my husband be my legal guardian.

I want to be taken care of.
But I don't want to be defined by my dependence upon a man or, for that matter, another woman.

I want to be female without feeling that it makes me less human.
But I don't want to be expected to act or feel like a man about sex.

I wonder how many men out there feel as conflicted about being men?


  1. I understand where you're coming from on most of these things, but for the most part, I've just actively chosen to do it / not do it as the whim takes me and not to feel conflicted about it. So, most of the time I wear heels, make up, and carefully style my hair. But sometimes I'm not in the mood, so I don't. And I don't agonize. I read what I want, watch whatever movies I want (well, not whenever I want, but whenever I have a few spare minutes), and don't spend much time thinking about it. Too much introspection is overrated, in my view. It is what it is, and it ain't what it ain't.

    However, the motherhood one is a big one. I have two kids, and I am SO tired of being judged, and being inexorably pushed to judge myself, by both sides. I have colleagues who turn up their noses at my, to their view, not feminist enough or environmentalist enough politics, given I have two kids. And I have others in my life who think it's horrible that I will go off to another country to do research for work and leave my kids (with my husband and their father, who is totally capable of caring for them). And I'm a full professor, so none of this has to do with any serious career anxiety. It's just the angst that seems inevitably to come with motherhood (in addition to all of the angst about, you know, the kids themselves--health, friends, school, etc.).

  2. Thanks, ntbw! I should confess that I spent the weekend reading Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream, so some of the things I'm reacting to come from her discussion of ways in which the media started calling for "womenly women" after 9/11. But just as I was thinking about the post, I noticed this article on the front page of our university website (http://www.uchicago.edu/features/20100927_seventeen.shtml), about Jamie Keiles "Seventeen" experiment, which made me realize that for some, things like wearing make-up or heels really still do stick as a problem. I think it depends on where you are in your own life and the people around you. My sister is constantly urging me to try the latest beauty treatment (Brazilian blow outs, facial scourings that take off the top layer of skin to help the collagen grow, or the like). It makes me feel dumpy to refuse but I would feel gulled to give in. Her view is, shouldn't we do everything we can to look as good as we can? But then she will also happily get as sweaty and dirty as the next guy if she's out working with her horse. So, you know. It's hard.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog post. I look forward to hearing what you think!


Popular posts from this blog

Credo ut intelligam

Make the Middle Ages Dark Again

Nation, American Style

Talking Points: Three Cheers for White Men

Facere Quod In Se Est*