Monday’s with Ms. Marvel: modern empowerment


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column, Monday with Ms. Marvel, Wingspan’s Trisha Dasgupta reviews different political issues and relatable topics in everyday life.

Trisha Dasgupta, Editor-in-Chief

I first became aware of feminism when I was in the fifth grade, and I spent most of my pre-teen years learning about and internalizing the millennial-BuzzFeed-girl boss “feminist” ideals that were prevalent on the internet in the mid-2010s. As I’ve grown older, I’ve started seeing the flaws in these ideals and have worked to learn and find more intersectionality in my feminism, which I believe is incredibly important. 

It’s natural for your beliefs and philosophies to mature and evolve as you do, so I don’t particularly lament my 13-year-old self for believing in the 30-year-old Buzzfeed writers who spewed less than intelligent rhetoric, because I know that my heart was in the right place. 

I have found myself going back and looking at some of those “feminist” ideals, trying to pinpoint the flaws, and what I’ve come to realize is that the main issue with this internet feminism of sorts, is the fact that so much of it still centers male opinions. 

So much of modern feminism is about diverting the patriarchy’s expectations, instead of, you know, ignoring them. 

Men think of women as weak and submissive, so we’re going to promote being strong and independent. 

Men think of women as housewives, so we’re going to promote being a career-driven woman. 

Men think of women as [insert stereotype here] so we’re going to do the opposite. 

That’s what this all usually boils down to, and while it wasn’t an awful sentiment at first, it just became a different box to keep women in. 

We’ve built this image of what an “empowered” woman is, and it’s just the other side of the same sexist stereotypes used against women in the past. It continues to perpetuate the notion that there is a “proper” way to be a woman, and it’s simply unproductive. 

We’re just forcing other boxes and traits onto women instead of realizing that women are complex individuals that don’t need to cater to society’s expectations for them. 

The patriarchy’s hold on society is the expectations that are associated with the gender binary, and equality will come when we dismantle those beliefs and the systems that are upheld by and rooted in them.

We further facilitate the binary when we try to counter the existing stereotypes, because that method fails to address the root cause of sexism and misogyny. We need to work to get rid of the idea of “proper” femininity and masculinity altogether and a good first step is to simply ignore society’s expectations. 

Stop paying attention to what men/others are saying about trivial things like makeup, body hair, female empowerment, and body positivity. I know that many young women, including myself, have felt pressured to be a perfect feminist/the perfect woman, misguided by what the internet deems “feminism.”

There’s the idea of “girls supporting girls,” the notion that strong independent women don’t care about dating, and other girlboss-esque characteristics that simplify the female experience and womanhood.

The right way to be a woman, the right way to be a person, is the way you deem fit for yourself. 

You are allowed to not like another woman and to feel jealousy or negative feelings towards them. It isn’t “internalized misogyny” it’s being a thinking individual. You are allowed to like dating! It doesn’t make you weak. It’s okay to wear makeup to look cute for a guy. It’s okay to not have any particular passion for an ambitious career. 

These things don’t make you less of a woman, or less of a feminist. Not every decision or choice you make has to be a political move for female empowerment, it can just be something you do for yourself.

Fighting for women’s equality should be about addressing rape culture, the fact that millions of girls around the world aren’t allowed to access education, and systems of oppression that keep women from different careers, and other issues like that. It should be about fighting for the rights of all women- BIPOC and LGBTQ+ women.