I’m a woman. A professor. A scholar.
I’m an academic who is a woman.
A woman academic.
I am not a feminist personally nor professionally.
But I am feminine.
I came of age in the Sex and the City era, identifying with Miranda’s work ethic, Samantha’s sexual freedom, Charlotte’s romanticism and Carrie’s passion for footwear. They convinced me that women can have it all—a lucrative career, a steamy sex life, a fancy apartment in a major city and a happily ever after topped off with a black diamond ring and a size 2 figure. I remember watching the series during my sophomore year of college and thinking ‘man, these women are desperate for a man! All they do is talk about dating and men.’ I felt bad for them. I pitied them. Somewhere along the way I felt as though they’d lost their sense of purpose irrespective of men.
Despite my rejection of their traditional femininity, I did what it took to get what they had. I got an Ivy League degree (just like Miranda), made a plan for my future (that did not include Charlotte’s baby name), dated, had fun, and am now starting my own business (a la Samantha). I don’t make anywhere near what attorneys make, but I am also not living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t live in a fancy apartment in a big city, but I am about to buy a house in a city with a decent cost of living. I certainly don’t have no-strings-attached sex with a different guy every weekend, but I date. I hold on to the hope of a happily ever after while acknowledging that I may be the sole lead in that movie.
In my late twenties I’ve learned enough to know that a rent controlled apartment and 35k worth of shoes cannot be had by writing a weekly column in a local newspaper. The 18 year old know-it-all who turned her nose up at women embracing their unique type of womanness has learned not to reject the part of me that likes wearing high heels, blazers and red lipstick.
The woman who wears her natural hair in a puff and always sits with her legs crossed at the knee is just a part of me as is the woman who asks the college president to justify why the budget cannot accommodate need-blind admissions. I’ve learned to take pleasure in doing what society has labeled ‘girly’ things. I spend way too long picking out my outfits and matching jewelry and shoes. I read self-help books about relationships and dating. I hang out with my girls once a week where the topic of conversation is 65% about the most recent guys we’ve dated. I daydream about what it would be like to introduce my new guy to my friends and family. I seek reassurance that yes, this guy is actually into me and no, he is not a straight-gay man, just a gay-straight man.
I re-watch SATC (because I of course own the series and the movies on DVD) with a new eye. Where I used to mock, I empathize; where I used to be confused, I understand; where I used to laugh, I cry. No, my life is not and never will be an award-winning HBO series, but it is my life. A result of my choices to accept and be who I am. I am grateful to Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte and Carrie for providing a model of womanhood that nurtures all facets of femininity—however I define that.