Respectivism

     It’s late on a weekend night.  Sitting curled up in our living room, my roommate and one of my oldest college friends and I are having one of our typical life chats.  Suddenly, she asks me, “Are you a feminist?”
     “UGH, no…actually, I don’t really know.”
     A few weeks later, at the senior Political Science Banquet, my thesis advisor and the man I consider to be my biggest mentor from college makes a similar remark “Well of course you think that, you’re a feminist.”
     My initial response in both of these instances was shock mixed with incredulity.  Me, a feminist?!  Why does that feel like such a dirty word to have branded upon my reputation?  But then I really started to think about.  Now, I’m no bra-burning woman who refuses to shave her legs (ew). But I do believe that women all too often fall victim to what men want them to do, losing sight of their values and individuality in the process.  I believe that any romantic relationship between a man and a woman should be an equal partnership, not a mismatched pairing of domineering patriarch and helpless maiden.  But at the same time, I expect men to respect women – to be a little chivalrous and open a door, offer to carry something heavy, or give up a seat on the T.

Now talk about a woman who demands respect! (nps.gov)

So I guess I’m not really a feminist. I’m a respectivist. No, it’s not a real word, but it should be. The world should have men respecting women for their ability to keep a family together.  Women respecting men for being natural protectors.  Women respecting women for making whatever decision feels right: to stay at home to raise a family or to pursue the high-powered career they have always dreamed of, or anything in between.  Men respecting men for supporting their wives, sisters, mothers, cousins, friends, colleagues, or rivals in making that very decision.

     I think part of people seeing me as a feminist has to do with my desire to enter the ranks of intellectuals, but there is some difficulty with this (beyond the practical challenge of having the time and money to get a Ph.D.): female intellectuals are scarce.  Ok, maybe there is a slight exagerration in that, but when you look at my twin fields of history and poltiical science, there simply is not comparable scholarship done by women.  In my personal experience, history tends to be a bit more gender-balanced (although I am currently one of two female history faculty members among seven men), but political science is a very male-dominated area. And, sadly, I gave into these pressures of not feeling smart enough or qualified enough because I was a women in a male-dominated field. I doubted my abilities and my potential to add to the conversation, and instead often chose silence in class rather than participation.
     Call me a masochist or confused, but I ultimately decided to complete my senior honors thesis in the political science department.  There was one professor who during my junior year motivated me to make my own mark and remove myself from the sidelines of the discussion and instead become a leader in the discussion.  This professor agreed to become my advisor for the project, and through it all I finally came to acknowledge and respect my contributions to the field.
     So by the end of my studies, maybe I did have a bit of a “girl-power” attitude in my approach to certain aspects of my life. But I had come to learn through experience that I was capable of anything, regardless of whether or not I was in the majority.
     Maybe I am a feminist, but to me that term means a woman who demands nothing less than respect, who is empowered enough to chase down her dreams, and who, at the end of the day, knows that the biggest obstacle she has to overcome is the voice in the back of her head that is anything but encouraging.  So baby, you can stamp that title ALL over me – I can take it.
Advertisements

Someone Else

You saw him today. 

Yes, no matter how much time passes by, he is the one who makes a smile spread across your face the second you are reunited.  The one who still makes your heart skip a beat when his name flashes on your phone. The one who gives you butterflies when he compliments you. The one that, no matter how many years pass or how much you grow, will always have a little piece of your heart.

Yes, you thought you were better, thought you had finally put this all behind you.  You’ve grown and changed, but those feelings rushed in the second you thought it was safe to open the door to peek at them.  So that feeling returned and brought you back to when anything was possible. 

But for one reason or another, it is not meant to be, at least not now, but maybe not ever.  As perfect as it may seem in the moment, it isn’t.  Maybe you aren’t laughing as hard as you could, maybe there is a false sense of trust, or maybe, just maybe, you were meant for someone else.

Yes, someone, maybe far away or maybe close by, but not him.  No, not him. You must let go and move on and give him to someone else.  Someone who needs him more than you. 

And you need someone else more, too. You may not see it now, but honey, it is God’s honest truth.  The two of you will fit perfectly, one piece to join the other, and you’ll forget what happened in the days before you fit together.  

But for now, you’ll let the beats skip and the butterflies fly. Smiles brighten and fade, but somehow, as you drive away, it all makes you feel empty. Cold, and empty, and wanting more while wanting less.

Yet one day you will feel full. Yes, I promise, one day you will be full.