What the hell is Feminism anyways?
I am a child of the 70’s. Born at the end of the Vietnam War and at the edge of some sort of sexual revolution. Feminism was a word I have always known, but it’s had so many different faces through the years that I really never latched on and instead actually found myself repelled by the topic.
As a woman, feminism was complicated and often a source of anger. I felt that I had to choose a side, and really no matter which one you stood on, parts of it seemed to be wrong.
Up until recently, I had this image of feminism being about hating men, hating being a housewife, and pretty much hate in general. The women who declared themselves feminists were aggressive, loud, and sometimes really hairy.
I thought that I really didn’t fit in to the roles that they demanded women take. Sure, I want women to be able to drive, vote, and not be segregated… those things seemed common sense. But I actually wanted to grow up to be a Mother, a wife, and be home with my family growing a garden and making dinner for my family, which seemed like I was the opposite of what I thought the message was of the feminist movement. I like bras! I didn’t want to be forced to burn mine in tribute to the freedom cause.
But as I’ve moved through life, I realized recently with the help of my own teenage daughter, that even though I didn’t know it, I am a feminist too.
This was shocking to me and I had a hard time with the idea at first.
You see the new faces of Feminists aren’t what I thought they were at all. They are our daughters who grew up believing that no matter their dress size, they are wonderful and smart. It is the belief that men and women should have equal rights, the same and treat each other as equals.
It is the belief that a powerful woman are treated with the same respect as their male counterparts and not belittled to being “bossy” or a “bitch” because they do their jobs well. Men aren't labeled a “bitch” for being firm or accused of “sleeping their way up the ladder” if they are successful.
They are the women who didn’t limit themselves to being nurses or teachers because they are “women’s jobs” but became whatever they dreamed of being because they dared to dream. And they are even women who, like myself, chose to stay home and be happily married to wonderful men.
I love that I have had a wonderful life raising 4 wonderful human beings. I love that my husband and I worked together to have a successful life. My role staying home made it easier for my husband to work nights, travel for extended times, and focus on what would make our family successful.
No, it wasn't always easy to stay home. It is often isolating, exhausting, and thankless. But it was also worth it. It gave me a chance to do what I love and support my family. I don't feel less empowered because we chose this lifestyle, but maybe even more powerful in my femininity because of my role as a nurturer.
Feminists aren’t just women asking for equal rights for women. They are actually men and women who believe that nobody should be treated like they are better than anyone else purely on their body parts. They are people who are against supporting sexism.
So what is feminism? I think I am really just figuring it out. Feminism means is something different to everyone. For me, it means that I have the right to choose who I want to be, how I want to dress or who I want to be friends with. It means we as women have the right to speak up for our reproductive rights.
And those rights were given to me by the generations of angry women who dared to put on pants, pick up a hammer or picket sign and build a new world for women in the future who might never know how hard it was for them.
Those women hoped that one day it would be so common for women to be known as equals that feminism wouldn’t be needed anymore. But we still have a long way to go. I am proud to be a Feminist. Are you?