As someone who’s been married for almost 12 years, I am so tired of being judged by women who aren’t married yet, all in the name of feminism.
The fact is that feminism means different things to different people. The actual definition of feminism is: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” That definition can be applied in different ways depending on your view of life and upbringing.
I believe that I am a feminist in my own right, but my view of it also adheres to my religious and cultural values. Growing up as a Pakistani Muslim, my religion already gives equal rights to women but also addresses the differences between men and women and the gender roles that come with them.
However, I also believe that women and men should always be treated equally, given the same respect, given the same rights and opportunities, be compensated equally for the same work and many other considerations that fall under modern-day feminism.
Being a wife and a mother puts me in a practical position to fulfill certain gender roles, and they are roles that I happily fulfill and understand. However, I’ve had my strength and beliefs questioned when I’m seen performing “traditional” roles, especially by women who have yet to become a wife or mother.
I’ve had girls smirk at me if I make a plate of food for my husband or roll their eyes if I tell them I don’t have a job. I’ve had women tell me how lucky I am not to have to work, but then judge me for all the “free time” I have, all in one sentence – as if raising children is the most carefree job in the world.
And it’s not that I didn’t get an education or never worked. I did both of those things, but I also chose to focus on raising my children and working on personal goals that I felt were more important to me. And I don’t think that those choices make me a weak or useless woman.
It’s easy to talk to a big game when you haven’t been in the practical position of a certain role and you don’t understand the compromises it takes to be in a marriage or to be a parent. Before being in those roles, your mentality is completely different.
My husband and I have roles that are specific to us.
My husband is the main provider for our family while I fulfill more traditional roles with our house and kids. That doesn’t mean we are tied to those roles exclusively. I’ve also worked when I wanted and quit when I wanted.
My husband also helps around the house because he doesn’t act like it’s just my job.
He’ll make a delicious meal for us and bring me tea in the morning. We acknowledge that we have our primary roles, but we still share responsibilities when we are able to. It doesn’t weaken my feminism or threaten his masculinity sharing in each other’s responsibilities. It means we understand and respect each other and the roles we decided work best for our family.
I want girls and women to know that you can believe in feminism, equality, and women’s empowerment, and still take care of your husband and family if you so choose that lifestyle.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
And if you say that you believe in the empowerment of women, but judge another woman’s lifestyle because it’s different than your own, then that’s not empowerment at all. It’s demeaning to the woman you are judging and makes you no better than the men who look down on women or the people who judge a Muslim woman for covering her hair.
Feminism is about letting all people make their own choices without the fear of judgment. So your feminism isn’t the judge of my lifestyle, especially when you haven’t been in my position.
I think balancing cultural, religious and feminist values is where many people struggle. Many times these values may seem counterintuitive but they are not at all. There is nothing wrong with having a traditional mindset or fulfilling certain gender roles if you choose.
It’s simply a matter of finding a balance that works for you.