The Relationship between Feminism and the Drive for Perfection

Wonder Women

Feminism is largely about broadening our opportunities. It broadens our idea of what beauty is, the ways we value ourselves, the professions available to each gender, the acceptable methods of expressing our sexuality, and our concept of what is natural. It is, in so many ways, freeing. However, for many, being a feminist in a world with so many “can’s,” creates what feels like a never-ending strain of “must’s.”

The feminists of previous generations fought hard to create these opportunities, and many women feel guilty if they don’t utilize them. They feel as if they are letting down the cause if they cannot be an amazing mother and a successful professional. This is, obviously, a very unintended and damaging philosophy.

By turning our opportunities into obligations, we are forgetting the real gift of feminism: the right to choose. When we buy into the myth of a Wonder Woman who can do it all, we are forfeiting our ability to accept ourselves.

As illustrated in the image above, just being a woman, just being a person is enough of a reason to exclaim. Knowing who you are and what you contribute is enough of a wonder in itself – and you don’t need a cape to do that!

As Debora Spar, Barnard College President and author of Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, urges, “Give up on the perfection. Nobody’s perfect. It’s a myth. Find what you love; find what you’re good at; find what makes you happy; be good at that; and let some of the other stuff slide.”

In an effort to continue this conversation regarding the relationship between feminism and the drive for perfection, I invite you to listen to Barnard College’s podcast, Dare to Use the F-Word, featuring Debora Spar.

What do you think: Is there a relationship between feminism and the struggle for perfection? Can it even be called feminism while the idea of perfection still persists?


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