I have to admit, I have historically not been the most inclusive feminist; in fact, I’ve been a judgmental feminist. Younger me didn’t grasp the fact that feminism was about choice and the freedom to have choices (even if that choice is a traditional one). But older me gets it – the women’s movement has always been about being able to choose what we want to do with our lives.
So it was a real slap in the face when I sat on the other side of the lady-judgment table.
The other day at work I was talking with some women coworkers. We were just getting to know each other – gabbing about work, school, career ideals, and our big goals. My coworkers are impressive women with awesome goals which is great! But when they asked me what I wanted to do long term I took the circuitous route: I told them my interests (women, global health, west africa) and how I want to affect change. But then I said that I thought marriage had given me some perspective on what I wanted in terms of work life balance – which is, more life, less work.
and BOOM!! Came the lady judgement.
“Really??” they seemed to ask – as if they couldn’t understand how marriage could change someone’s perspective on this.
And I felt I had to backtrack and explain myself.
“Woah!” I said, “It’s not like I want to stay home and make babies – I don’t even want kids – it’s just that there are a lot of things I want out of life and my career doesn’t define me. I want to travel, become a better musician, a better chef – and sure, I am passionate about women’s health across the globe but it’s not the sole focus of my life and I won’t treat it that way.”
See, I’m a big proponent of non-traditional work schedules, and telecommuting, and, you know, having organizations function in the 21st Century. And I don’t think that’s unreasonable. But as a woman – even to other women – I still felt as though I needed to explain myself, and it was silly. Even here I feel compelled to explain that I don’t want to NOT work, I just don’t want to work in an old-school system that doesn’t appreciate or understand the modern workplace.
I’ve grown up with very high-achieving people which has propelled me forward – heck, I am 23 and have a Master’s degree which is pretty cool. But a certain level of judgement has always existed in my circles about choosing a less-career dominated life and I’ve played into it – so it was a unique experience to be on the other side of that for the first time.