What does it mean to be a woman today? That’s a question I’ve been struggling with since I was given the chance to collaborate with Thierry Mugler Angel on their #BewareofAngels campaign. Past campaigns have focused on women’s strength and fellowship in a way I deeply respect, so I want to do justice to the question. But where do I begin?
Being a woman today means being a little bit of everything, and a little bit of anything you like. In many ways, we are more confident and able than ever, with the ability to choose our own future, define our desires, and own our intentions. In other ways, we still find ourselves caught between our past and future selves.
The transformation from just our grandmothers’ generation, some of the first to be born into an America where women were allowed to vote, to our own is almost beyond comprehension. To think that such a metamorphosis has taken place in such a short time, it’s no wonder we sometimes struggle with our own perception of what it means to succeed as a woman today.
I won’t lie, I struggle with blogging a lot… with why we do it and what we have to contribute to the world. I believe in my soul that what we have to give is valuable. I also believe that this is hard work. It takes talent to be a successful blogger (and sometimes years of work to develop that talent.) But many women bloggers, especially those who’ve chosen to be stay at home – or work at home – moms, still face harsh criticism from those who feel they might be doing some sort of injustice to the feminist cause. Or worse, marrying for money and having babies for pageviews. Living meaningless lives on nothing more than rainbows and hugs.
But would you say the same to a professional photographer, writer, or designer?
Meaning is, in many ways, ambiguous. We find meaning in helping others, but we also find meaning in our passions and our pursuits.
During the day, I work on nuclear weapons policy at a nonprofit in DC. We work to shape the discussion on nuclear arms reductions and issues like nuclear proliferation in Iran. I work five days a week to make the world a better place. But even in this more well-defined “meaningful” role, often I worry that our voice doesn’t carry the weight that it could… and that many of our successes are far from ours to own. I worry that the daily grind is just, and only, that.
What’s more, as a woman in a male-dominated field, I know discrimination all too well.
So I feel, on the surface, that I should be sensitive to the existence of so many strong stay at home moms on the internet. That what they stand for and their role in shaping the future of feminism should somehow get under my skin.
Except that there’s a word in there that changes it all: strong.
What it means to be a woman today is to be stronger than ever before. To lead a household, an office, or just your own damn self through a life that doesn’t ask for permission.
Maybe you stand up for your beliefs by leading and nurturing your family. Maybe you feel that a family is best led by setting an example in your career. Maybe you don’t want a family at all.
What it means to be a woman today is to refuse to be shamed for seeking happiness, whether that happiness comes through the eyes of your children or your next big promotion at work. It means setting an example not only for our daughters, but for each other, and helping other women to grow more confident in their choices every day.
This is what this strong community of women bloggers has just begun to create, a support system and a strong example, with voices on every side of the aisle. A community that empowers women to seek out their own version of happiness in life. And, for that matter, to work with their significant others in a way that allows them to do the same. To shame that voice is to do more to walk back equality than they ever could.
To me, what it means to be a woman today is to chart your own path, and fight to be proud of every step. No matter what path that might be.
Tell me, what does it mean to you?