Feminism is a word that has become very popular recently. Women (and men) all over the country seem to be locked in an unbreakable contract requiring them to profess their feminism, or else be condemned as sexist or deplorable. And I don't necessarily think that feminism is a bad thing. It's important that women are given the same opportunities as men, and there are obviously places in the world where the treatment of women is simply unacceptable. But there has been one specific trend in feminist talk lately that makes me cringe: the contempt for women who fall in love with men.
Almost everything I've read recently that was written through a "feminist" lens has made some comment about how wrong it is for a woman to fall in love with a man. Or to pursue a romantic relationship with a man. Or to even accept a compliment from a man. For example, I recently read an article about the new Beauty & The Beast movie in which Belle was deemed a "fake feminist" character. Despite the fact that she believes that girls should be taught to read and her bravery in taking her father's place in the beast's dungeon, the author of the article said that she couldn't really be considered a feminist because she gets married in the end.
I find this rationale very troubling. How can a person claim to support equality between men and women and simultaneously argue that a man and woman shouldn't love each other? The first problem with that logic is that a huge number of women who call themselves feminists are married to men. The second is that feminism is supposed to be about eliminating hostility toward others based on gender. So why is it acceptable to be hostile toward someone based on their relationship status or sexuality?
The reason that this trend has become so troublesome to me is the implication it has for young girls. If we really want the women of the future to grow up understanding human worth, they have to understand that judging others based on their romantic relationships is totally unfair. They have to understand that it's possible to chase their dreams and achieve big things, and still experience love.
If we're going to support a movement, it might as well be one that encourages love, rather than portraying it as a sign of weakness. There was a time when a woman could only be one thing: a respectable housewife. But that time is past, and now women can become CEOs, invent things, make laws, practice medicine and marry the man of their dreams. So, no, it's not true that Belle isn't a feminist because she gets married in the end. She's just a very happy feminist who understands the importance of education and of love.