I grew up in a home filled with women – my grandmother, mother, two sisters, and I outnumbered my poor father 5 to 1. Being surrounded by such capable women growing up I developed a strong sense of independence, confidence, and, what some might call, feminism.
My family never really spoke about gender roles or feminism – gender equality was never a topic of discussion because we all just assumed everyone was on a level playing field. So when I found myself a man worth fighting for, I immediately started fighting to maintain the same level of independence and strength I had enjoyed prior to his arrival. When he would visit me on campus I made it a point to carry his bags up the stairs. I initiated planking contests and took pride in my almost endless streak of wins (#sorrynotsorry). I found ways to make sure my partner knew that, whether he liked it or not, God made me as wonderfully tenacious as he is. And then I got married.
After years of constantly feeling the need to prove myself, I now enjoy a more self assured and perhaps less aggressive version of feminism.
Now I can’t say that it happened the moment he finally Qabiltu-ed or when we were devouring our wedding cake or as we shared our first bag of chip on our way to a sweet lunar vacation (#honeymoon). Regardless of when, something inside me slowly started to change. I finally began to realize it’s not a competition. Yeah you bet I can handle heavier luggage than Emirates can but that doesn’t mean I have to mule it up all the time. Having a man offer to carry my luggage doesn’t mean he thinks I’m weak (he knows better than to think that) it just means he wants to do something nice. If I get to do things like vacuum the room or slip a silly note into his weekly calendar then who am I to stop him from doing little things to show his love.
I think some of us feel that feminism means always having to prove our superiority but that doesn’t have to be the case. Let us stick with subliminal marketing strategies – classy not flashy; as if we are above the need to constantly sing our own praises. If you want to challenge every man you meet to an arm wrestle then please by all means do it (and make him cry). But if you find yourself at an arm wrestling tournament and you don’t feel the need to jump in there, it doesn’t make you less of a feminist. After getting married I finally had a man whose intentions I could trust and whose actions I could openly question and this allowed me the comfort to realize that whilst I am a strong independent woman, I can maintain that identity whilst allowing my husband to treat me well. After years of constantly feeling the need to prove myself, I now enjoy a more self assured and perhaps less aggressive version of feminism.
All in all I think the key is finding a balance between ensuring your voice is heard and allowing others the opportunity to be heard as well.
Now I know to some I might sound like a brainwashed, wifed up zombie but trust me – I only eat halal humans. I’m not saying we women shouldn’t play up our strengths, especially in the work place, but I guess it’s okay to trust men’s intentions sometimes and lay off the defensive tone. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. So, yeah I still fight with my husband about equal pay for equal work and the unidentified side effects of his male privilege but sometimes we have those debates over a plate of kebab rolls I made and other times it’s over a plate of his delicious scrambled eggs (the key is a splash of orange juice to bring out the flavor of the eggs). All in all I think the key is finding a balance between ensuring your voice is heard and allowing others the opportunity to be heard as well.
Note: I am a nobody. This is just me sharing my experience but I am absolutely NOT advocating that this is the perfect way to express feminism. You do you girl!