To those who know me as I am right now, you more than likely know me as something of a staunch feminist. I pretty inherently abhor labels, but proudly wear that one.
Yet there was a time, not too long ago, in which I would have cringed at the term feminist; I was repulsed by the it.
Why? How was that possible? Didn’t I believe in equal pay for men and women? Didn’t I admire countless women in leadership roles, even aspire to be one?
Was there a point in my life where I didn’t wholeheartedly believe women were equal to men in every way and therefore deserved to be treated as such? No, there totally was not.
So why was I so put off the by term feminist, a term that simply means one who supports equal rights for mean and women, and what changed my mind?
Well, let’s gather some facts.
At that time in my life, I was a student at a primarily conservative, private, Christian university steeped in tradition. People say that your college years are your most liberal, but for someone like me, thrust into the situation in which I was, college was a time of blind conservatism for me, and somehow blindly supporting conservative values meant anti-feminist to me.
See, in my crazy, muddled brain with my sense of self so vastly distorted by the media, my past, and my peers, I felt a deep need to be something I am not. I felt an inherent sense of needing to be quintessentially domestic, to wear pearls, bake cookies, and emulate the Ann Romney types.
For the record, there is nothing wrong with being an Ann Romney type, or actually being Ann Romney for that matter. There is nothing wrong with baking cookies or wearing pearls; there’s nothing wrong with any of it. There’s nothing wrong with vacuuming in heels if that’s what you’re into, but I mean it when I say if. If you like doing something, anything at all, short of criminal activity, then you should be doing it. But only if you want to.
I personally find it hard to believe that any woman in 2016 truly and happily lives up to all that is and was June Cleaver and receives the sort of life affirming personal fulfillment that I think everyone deserves, but nonetheless, there’s nothing wrong with you doing just that if you do glean that sort of fulfillment from it, but I digress.
The driving force behind that disillusioned need to be domestic was the same force that told me being feminist was bad. I see a ton of young women post or share things on social media explain why they are not feminists, and maybe they’re really not, maybe they think men are in fact superior to them, but if so, that’s really sad.
More than likely, I’d venture to guess that those young women felt the same thing I did, that need to seem feminine and domestic, that need, I would later find, that was so obviously perpetuated by the male driven patriarchy we call a society.
The same society that has told me over and over since I was a child playing with Barbie dolls that I needed to aspire to attaining a certain appearance, the same society that has told me since basically birth that I should aspire to be married and that I, as an unmarried woman would be less valid, also told me that, in order to seem most appealing to men, I needed to emulate the most domestic, most feminine persona possible and that the word feminist certainly did not fit into that mold.
I’m telling you all this so maybe you’ll understand, so maybe you’ll question your own way of thinking, you’re own actions. We live in a society hat demands women change themselves for the sake of men, that so often on our own, in our most natural form, we are inferior to the opposite sex. That is our society. Don’t argue that point with me; I have my own experiences for proof.
But I’m also telling you because I’m tired of seeing those posts from young women who think being a feminist is bad. These women often write that they “believe in equal rights, but” followed by some misguided reason for why they’re not a feminist. That’s wrong; that’s missing the dictionary definition of the word itself and worse that’s digressive. It’s perpetuating and empowering the culture that makes women feel inferior to men, that celebrates masculinity over femininity while simultaneously tricking women into thinking that most be most feminine in order to be most desirable. That shows how faulted our society is, how fractured and corrupt a patriarchal culture can be?
I want the women writing those posts to snap out of the stigma imposed upon them by our culture; I want them to realize they’re turning away from a word with their best interests at heart, and I want them to adopt that word for themselves, as I did, as a badge of honor.
I think women like that, like the woman I was, need feminism the most. But the rest of us, the staunch, fiery feminists fighting for equality already, may not realize that; those disillusioned, misguided women don’t understand the reality that’s pressuring them, and a molding their minds, into thinking they’re not feminists or that they don’t need feminism. Those women don’t realize the very culture that feminism is fighting against is what’s shaped them into thinking that way. They need it more than us.
They need us to fight until they can see what we see.
That men and women are equal and deserve to be treated as such. That no amount of masculinity or femininity makes you any more or any less valid. That the patriarchy still exists and still rampantly oppresses women from a very young age.
That’s all I had to say.
*quietly steps off soapbox*