To Be Feminista

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated, but valued.”
– Aung San Suu Kyi

I’m not quite sure why we need an International Women’s History Day. Frankly, isn’t every day Women’s History Day? Is it because for centuries, women haven’t been recognized for their contributions to the development and advancement of society? So, to have our day of recognition makes up for history’s magnificent, egotistical, chauvinistic blunders? I have a better idea – shouldn’t we appreciate accomplishments of humans, always?

fem·i·nism, ˈfeməˌnizəm/

The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

To explore this topic, I must first define some context. Specifically, what it is, and is not, to be a feminist. The definition of feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is, “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes“. Pretty straightforward. However, it is oft confused with “man-bashing”, “lesbianism”, and basically aggressive, pushy, “broads”.

Admittedly, I too confused the word to mean something that it does not. Specifically, I refused for years to call myself a feminist as it carried with it a misunderstood connotation as “man-hater”. I did not wish to be categorized for my beliefs in a manner that did not represent them. But, it has been proven once more to me that with age, comes wisdom – if you’re open to its arrival, that is. This wisdom has taught me that Feminist is merely a word. The power of the stereotype lives only when it is allowed to live. Therefore, today, as with everyday henceforth, I am proclaimed a Feminist. Or, as I prefer, Feminista.

I dare say, that no one person encapsulated the issue as perfectly as extraordinary Bette Davis, who famously said, When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch. To this day, it rings true, with harsh, sad realization. For many years I was proud to be called “bitch”. I did not care what people thought of me, I would not stand around and tolerate behavior that was not humane, that lacked compassion, that was irreverent, that was domineering or sexist. I still feel the same; however, to label me as “bitch” is incorrect if my delivery is not “bitchy”, but thoughtful, articulate, and conversant.

Again, to refer to Merriam-Webster, in this context “bitch” is defined as, “a:  a lewd or immoral woman, b:  a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse.” I am but one of these things – “woman”. Though, some may think otherwise for I have a tendency to speak my mind. This can come across to the less educated as “lewd” or “overbearing”, but I am not. After all, Nawal El Saadawi summed things up perfectly with, “They said, ‘You are a savage and dangerous woman.’ I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.” The truth is indeed savage and dangerous – to those it exposes; but this truth, as with all truths, will set you free.

Another truth – women throughout history have invented, discovered, created, wrote, and founded many amazing contributions to the world we now live in, but most were credited to men. You may have heard one of the most famous of such mis-credits regarding Eli Whitney potentially not being the true inventor of the Cotton Gin, but rather Catharine Greene, who funded the invention. At the time, women could not apply for patents and some historians suspect that Eli Whitney was merely a means to an end for Greene.

“Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can’t figure out what from.” – Mae West

The most recent discovery by a women scientist happened in my lifetime, which shocked me to the core. Jocelyn Bell Bernell is an accomplished Astrophysicist and was the first to discover pulsars in 1974. Her male supervisor and colleagues were awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery. This was not the first time the Nobel Prize committee allowed such misrepresentations to happen.

Although men didn’t always get – or take – the credit for discoveries by women, many major discoveries history has not been forthcoming in sharing. For example, did you know that Heddy Lamarr wasn’t only a beautiful Hollywood actress, but also an accomplished mathematician? In fact, Lamarr invented Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum, which is still used today in your Bluetooth technology.

femme fa·tale, fem fəˈtal,fəˈtäl/
noun: femme fatale; plural noun: femmes fatale
An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately bring disaster to a man who becomes involved with her.

If I’ve reached this pinnacle of truth within my own beliefs in my life, why do I need to change the terminology? Feminsta, (which has nothing to do with the fiction novel of the same name that I haven’t read), is a reclaiming of the term as inherently feminine, while simultaneously adding strength. I am a Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I wear dresses and adore lipstick and sparkly lip gloss, and never am without a pedicure and rarely without a manicure. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I enjoy the company of men,(and please don’t take that down some perverted hole that you cannot climb out from nor am I dogging on lesbians); from conversation, flirting, work, and friendship. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.

I am Feminista – a warrior, a champion, a woman. I love being a woman and everything it entails. I do not need to wear pants to feel strong, nor do I need high heels to feel feminine. It takes the “fatale” out of femme fatale, leaving only the woman – brilliant, multi-faceted, intelligent, confident, loving, strong, warm, successful, independent, amazing.
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