Feminists may get a bad rap nowadays but I consider myself one nonetheless. Women aren’t the only people discriminated against but it’s undeniable we’re disadvantaged because we happened to be born with a pair of ovaries, breasts and a vagina (amongst other things). As a sometimes unprivileged section of the population, we need to continue to make a ruckus until things are more fair, as do other disadvantaged groups. But what does it mean to be a liberated or free woman?
Back in the day, it meant things we now take for granted: the right to vote, to not be beaten, to have a job or career, to be treated equally, to choose whether we want to be mothers, to be in charge of our bodies and our lives, to own property, to not be someone else’s property. The list could go on. We don’t necessarily have all of these freedoms at the moment but I’m one of the lucky ones that does.
However, I consider the above rights the bare minimum of what makes us free. On top of this, there are many other ways I consider myself liberated (note: I may stray into more general ‘free person’ territory).
- Freedom to pursue happiness – while this freedom isn’t solely for women, it’s one I’m lucky enough to enjoy. I was able to leave a job I no longer enjoyed in order to focus on my study and pursue a new career. And while I may have taken a break to enjoy the summer study free, I’m still able to work part time and continue my writing and have freedom to read (essential to improving one’s writing, in my opinion). I have my very understanding and supportive partner to thank for this particular freedom
- Freedom from body image issues – like most girls (I would imagine), I have days when I look in the mirror and want to go straight back to bed but, on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with what I see. Sure, I could go to the gym more and eat better but I love my body, even if I think there are things I could improve. For better or worse, I have zero qualms about nudity; I tan topless, I would go to a nudist beach and I generally have very little compunction about being scantily clad (or next-to naked) in front of people I know (and some I don’t). Some may not see this as a good thing but, for me, it represents a comfortable-ness in my own skin that I wouldn’t trade for anything
- Freedom from intolerance – I consider myself an extremely open minded person in many ways. I don’t believe there’s one right way to live. As long as it’s safe, sane, consensual and you’re not hurting anyone, I think you should be free to pursue whatever makes you happy. I have friends who do things I might not want to do or might not understand or agree with but I respect their choice to do what they please, again so long as they’re not being a dick. On a personal level, I try to keep myself open to new experiences and I like to think there are very few things I’d say an outright no to (maybe I’m kidding myself)
- Freedom from ‘outdated’ traditional values – this one won’t be for everyone and that’s 100% fine but, for me, I’ve come to see monogamy as a set of values that are increasingly ill-suited to our modern lives. We find it totally fine to love our mum and dad, our brothers and sisters, all our friends and extended family but, as soon as it comes to romantic/sexual love, we only have space for one person. How can we expect that person to give us everything we need? I wrote a post about this back in May and there’s a great Ted talk by Esther Perel included in the post so I won’t go into too much detail here but, suffice it to say, we’ve travelled further down this track since my thoughts five months ago. Let me reiterate, not everyone is going to feel the same way and that’s fine, whatever makes you happy, but I think many people would be happier if they opened themselves up to another alternative, one where they weren’t so pressured into being the one and only person for that person ever and having the same expectations for their partner. For me, even without having done too much, just being on the journey and acknowledging that monogamy is not for me is incredibly freeing.
Of course, there are always goals to work towards and something I’m currently working on is being free from negativity and excessive self-judgement. I’m not going to lie, I can be super hard on myself and those around me. I expect a lot and I hold others to the same standard and, when things aren’t going well, I get frustrated and super-worked up very easily. What I need to do is cut everyone some fucking slack.
Going back to bed instead of going to the gym is lazy but it’s not the end of the world. Someone not replying to a message within a reasonable amount of time or cancelling plans for the umpteenth time or not ever texting me to hang out ever is annoying but is it really reason to never speak to them again (or for at least a few months)? It’s probably why job hunting was such a massive shit of a time because I expected myself to do better and felt it keenly every time I was rejected (as do most people, I’m guessing).
OK, OK, I see now that I started off strong with my whole ‘girl power’ theme and then changed tack part way through but this is my blog – I do what I want! *said in a Cartman voice* But, on a serious note, I do think we have enough shit to deal with as women without adding a whole bunch of unnecessary dampeners to kill our generally fabulous ass kicking vibe. Motto for the rest of the day/month/year/life: don’t sweat the small stuff. Be free.