Identifying With Feminism

By Abigail Pelzer-Opinion
Newton Daily News, Iowa.

It was recently I discovered I’m a feminist. I honestly had no idea.

It doesn’t seem too uncommon to equate the term in a negative light — oftentimes with radical, bra-burning women involved in the civil rights movement. (Although, what was wrong with those efforts exactly?) Identifying with feminism took me well into my 30s, thanks in part to this stigma.

As it turns out, fighting and obtaining equal political, social and personal rights isn’t such a bad thing, although some have fought to make it appear so since the beginning of time.

Probably not unlike many women in the last few years, I was shaken out of my fog by a number of influential women, one being Sheryl Sandberg, who penned “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

Sandberg, former Google executive and current COO of Facebook, has fought for gender equality for years. Many of the themes Sanberg discusses in her book trace back to deeply ingrained cultural expectations — that is, stuff women have to put up with that men don’t. Things we don’t even recognize.

I’ve since discovered similarities in other books that explore women in the workplace. In “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,” I discovered I play into some behaviors I don’t need to … although being nice doesn’t happen to be one of them.

I minimize compliments, for example. Should someone compliment my writing, leadership or even my blouse, I’m inclined to say something like “It was nothing” or “just doing my part” or “this old thing?” I’m learning to say, “thank you — I too am pleased with this.”

Also, I was asking permission all the time. The “Nice Girls” book points out that men are more prone to not ask, and then apologize later, if needed. (Cue my husband.) Meanwhile, I was feeling obliged to run small and necessary purchases by my boss. He finally asked me to stop.

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