It never ceases to amazed me that people's definition of "female empowerment' consists of conforming to someone else's norms. As a Catholic and a feminist, I feel I hear no end to it. First, I get criticism for wanting a traveling career, then I get criticism for being young and engaged (in what people see as a fairly young relationship). I get criticism for following the Church's teachings, yet for not necessarily wanting a "traditional" wedding and emphasizing egalitarian principles, values, and symbols. I just don't understand.
It amazes me that we tell our kids to break the norm, to not be like everyone else and that following the crowd can be dangerous ("If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?), yet, as adults, we interrogate those who choose not to conform. The sad thing is, most of these decisions we criticize are decisions that really have no effect and certainly no harm on the general population and usually, they are also personal decisions. For me, I choose to break the norm about certain things because I have been forced to consider what my values are and, if something does not reflect them or contradicts them, I am not maintaining a superficial image to please people. I still have to walk with integrity and do what's best by God, myself, and my future family.
The fact that I do make these choices makes me empowered. I refuse to let the crowd dictate my decisions, even if some members of that crowd are people I love very much. I believe in God, I believe that He gave us His Son and His Church, I also believe He made male and female in His image (Her image?), equal before Him. I've vowed to live my life, my vocation of marriage, and my career according to these principles. Why should the small things in my life not follow?
If I didn't truly believe in these ideals, I would not choose it. As I have, however, no one can say that it wasn't my choice.