This post is a long time in coming. I started it on March 3, 2010 and then abandoned it when I felt like I couldn’t accurately convey my thoughts and feelings on the subject. I’ve grown a lot in the past 15 months and thought maybe I should tackle this subject again.
This is how the original post started:
Recently the notorious blogger cjane wrote a post about why she is NOT a feminist. If you’re scared of self-identifying as a feminist, girl, that’s fine by me. But what seriously had me snorting Mountain Dew out of my nose is when she said that equality has never done a thing for her.
Here is a list of reasons why I’m a feminist:
The End. That’s about how far I got. Not that inspired.
Recently I was featured on my favorite blog
where I was asked what feminism means to me. Simply put: Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too (famously said by Gloria Steinem).
I know it’s hard to comprehend for women in the 21st century affluent America to realize that at one time, women were chattel, women were property, WOMEN WERE NOT PEOPLE! You were owned by your father and then your husband and they could use and abuse you and it was legal and culturally sanctioned. Even in my own mother’s lifetime, she was not allowed to rent an apartment or have a credit card or have a checking account solely in her name. She either had to have a father or husband attached to those things. And she was only 33 years older than me.
What’s incredibly sad to me about cjane’s article is that it is written by a privileged woman living a privileged life. It’s real easy to say equality never did a thing for you when you live in an affluent country, where your immediate person is not in constant danger, and all your needs are met. Try being a woman in the DR Congo where 1,000 women are raped a day as a weapon of war. Not just raped, but gang-raped, tortured, killed, for their gender. I bet having some equality in your life would be a lot different if that were your every day reality.
So, when I think of my feminist sheroes like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, I want to weep in gratitude. If you have not seen the movie, “Iron Jawed Angels,” run, don’t walk, to the video store (or whatever the 21st century equivalent to that is). Paul and Burns agitated for women’s rights in the early part of the 20th century and were jailed for months because of it. They protested in front of Woodrow Wilson’s white house for the right to vote (a perfectly accepted and celebrated American past time) and were put in jail for months where they were tortured, beaten, alternately starved then force fed rotten food, etc. For having the audacity to demand their American rights as a human being!
This was reaffirmed to me recently when I attended the American Woman exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. When we got to the Suffragette room, I was literally brought to tears. Those women worked tirelessly, suffered great indignities, so that I could walk into a voting booth and not be hassled. That I could perform the most basic function as an American citizen. Astounding.
As I said in the fMh post, I think of myself as a human being first and a woman second. As a human being I am entitled to the same rights and opportunities as every other human being. That means I should not be told to shut up and get in the kitchen because I’m a woman. Or I can’t handle a position of authority because I’m a woman. Or that I can’t sell a computer to a customer because as a woman I’m less credible than a man. All of these things have been said to me. My genitalia does not define who I am as a person or my capabilities and talents as as a human being.
It’s funny because recently a very good friend had the epiphany that she was a feminist because of me. It was because she was always told that feminists were man-hating family destroying lesbians. Not true.
Feminism does not mean that I hate men.
I love men. Well, let me qualify that – I love decent men that treat everyone with respect.
Feminism does not mean I’m out to destroy the family.
Family is the basic unit of society. Family means everything to me. I live for my family. I’ve dedicated my life to building families. Being an equal in my marriage and a co-head of my family only strengthens it as it shows an example to my children that, again, women are people too.
Feminism does not mean that I think men are inconsequential and I want an all female society.
On the contrary, I gave a talk in church last Father’s day on the importance of fathers. Men are very important. My life has been greatly blessed by the wonderful men who have impacted it. I regularly gush over the hubs, the best man that has ever lived. And anyone who knows me know that I’ve been boy crazy since 2 years old. I would not be able to survive an all female society.
Feminism does not mean I want to burn my bra.
Actually I pay big money for good support for my, ah, blessings.
So, why am I a Feminist?
-Because 1 out of 4 women is still sexually abused/raped/molested etc. in her lifetime.
-Because I live in a culture that continually tries to sell me the lie that my only worth is in my body.
-Because people are still killed all over this world for being women.
-Because women are not allowed to drive in Saudia Arabia.
-Because the number one cause of death for pregnant women is being killed by their significant other.
-Because women still make 80 cents on the dollar to men.
-Because I am my own person, not my husband’s property.
-Because women and girls are still under-represented in Congress, cartoons, books, super heroes, movies, etc.
-Because some people still believe that because I am a woman my only appropriate life course is that of servitude to my children or a man.
-Because I want my daughter to know she is so much more than what she is told she should be. She is smart and strong and capable and can become anything she wants in this life, whether that’s a stay-at-home Mom or a doctor, and they’ll both be fine with me as long as SHE chooses her own life course.
-Because I am a child of God.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the post that took me 15 months to write.