Almost 3 years ago (March 2010) I read a post by the infamous Mormon Mommy blogger, cJane Kendrick, about why she is not a feminist. It inspired to me write my own post about why I do identify as a feminist, but it took me 15 months to write. On Monday cJane published a post about why she now realizes that she is a feminist and why she claims that title. She cites growing up believing boys were better than girls, her abusive first marriage, and working out an egalitarian marriage with her current spouse that has helped her evolve her views in her life.
How I came to feminism was much, much different than cJane’s. I didn’t grow up believing boys were better than girls. In fact, both my parents strove hard to teach me that boys are not better than girls, girls are not better than boys, and that girls were every bit as capable and smart as boys are. My mom worked for the federal government in Washington D.C. for 10 years and was the first woman to go against dress code and wear a pantsuit to work. My dad was raised by a strong, hard-working woman and has three very smart and capable sisters and has always shown that he believes in equality of the sexes (and by equality I mean of equal worth). Because of my parents, I was raised to believe that I could be and do anything I wanted. The truly shocking thing for me was going out into the world (you know, the cold harsh world of elementary school) and having people treat me like I wasn’t as smart, capable, and strong as the boys because I was a girl. And this has pretty much continued whenever I have left the safety of home and family my entire life. Like the boy who laughed at me at church because I said my dad was at home doing laundry, (“boys don’t do laundry, you idiot! That’s a girl’s job”), or my Geometry teacher who on the first day of my sophomore year explained to the class that us girls should expect a lower grade than the boys because girls’ brains just can’t compute Math the way that boys’ do, or when I was expected to do the dishes in my cooking class because I was the resident keeper of that magical vagina that makes dish washing possible, or when I got into the adult world and found out people’s expectations of me were based on my gender and not on my capabilities or interests.
Feminism to me has always been about choice. In cJane’s article she talks about the growing pains she and her husband went through when figuring out parenting responsibilities and that ultimately they have a system now that works for both of them and respects and honors each other’s life paths. That is great for her and shouldn’t we all be allowed to decide what is best for us and our families without some 3rd party trying to enforce gender roles or what they think the “ideal” is on us? Shouldn’t my husband and I get to decide together that both of our educations and careers are important to us and work together to support each other in pursuing those things? While co-parenting, while sharing household responsibilities, while being partners to each other? Why should my life fit into some box because someone else said so? And if someone wants to pursue a more traditional path, shouldn’t they be allowed to do that without judgment?
In my last post about why I’m a feminist, I listed some reasons why (and I apologize because switching to WordPress from Blogger made it so it did not format the same and it’s not as pleasing to the eye as before). Here are more reasons I have accrued in the last year and a half.
- Because a 14 year old in Pakistan named Malala Yousfzai was shot by the Taliban on October 9, 2012 for demanding to be a girl and receive an education.
- Because I read Half the Sky this year and it changed my life.
- Because I care that women are being sold into sexual slavery all over the world, including my own country, like they are chattel and not real human beings with real lives, emotions, and pain. They are treated like objects of someone else’s base pleasure and discarded and used like trash.
- Because this past election season men like Todd Akin (R-MO), Richard Mourdock (R-IN), Roger Rivard (R – WI), Joe Walsh (R-IL), Tom Smith (R-PA), John Koster (R-WA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI), made some horrifically awful statements about rape, pregnancy, and women. But what restores my faith in humanity are the voters who turned out in droves to tell these men to stop talking about rape and women’s bodies like we’re too stupid to understand science, fact, research, and duh, our own life experiences.
- Because a 20 year old newly married girl with no life experience told my sister-in-law she wasn’t doing the right thing for her child by working full-time and going to school. Because 20 year old newly married people with no children and no life experience should be considered the experts on what’s best for individual children and their families.
- Because I’m tired of man splainers trying to tell me what I really mean, what my experiences really are, and what I should think and feel and believe and say and do. Stop it, man splainers…it’s really old.
- Because it really bothers me that at McDonalds my kids can’t just have “the toy” they have to say whether they want the “boy toy” or “girl toy” as if toys had genders and it is only acceptable for boys to play with one type of toy and girls another.
- Because I should be able to leave my house and not worry about being sexually assaulted, but that’s just not a reality for women.
- Because 11 year old girls (little girls) are being blamed for being gang raped.
- Because I am a human being with autonomy over my own body, thoughts, feelings, experiences, knowledge and I allow all other human beings domain over their own lives as well.
- Because I’m a child of Heavenly parents who love me and my sisters just as much as they love their sons.
So, I have to say brava to cJane. Not because she came out as a feminist and all, because I read her blog regardless of how she self-identifies, but because she is a famous Mormon woman who has been speaking her truth a lot recently (her political leanings, her abusive first marriage) and it takes a lot of courage to speak your truth and let people say what they will about it. It’s not easy to have a big platform that reaches an audience of hundreds of thousands and invite them all to judge you.