I am a Feminist. I am very proud to be one. I come from a very conservative family that was taught to frown upon this label, but over time they have adjusted and they no longer believe that Feminism is a bad word. I'm hoping maybe by the end of this post, some of you won't view it that way any longer either.
Six months ago, if you would have told me that we needed Feminism in the United States in 2014, I would have rolled my eyes. Women can vote and work. There is nothing else left for us to fight for. Furthermore, I've never felt like guys got special treatment over me or anything. So I would have dismissed that notion entirely.
In June, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Miss Representation, just out of curiosity. I cried several times throughout it, because I never realized how much media, and the objectification of women in it has effected my life. I have been unconsciously warped by the representation of women in media, in many ways. This movie changed my life, and changed the core of who I am. It made me a Feminist.
To clear up any misconceptions about Feminism:
- We do not want to burn our bras.
- We do not hate men.
- We do not want to have more power than men.
- We do not hate men for our struggle.
- We do not want to entirely eliminate gender roles. Simply loosen them.
- We do not think that every women should be a executive in order to be empowered.
That being said, there are SOME "Feminists" out there that do all of those things. But they are the minority among us, and sadly, they are the poster child for us.
Feminism, in it's purest form, is intended to empower women to be what they want to be. It encourages men to see the institutional bias against women, and work WITH women to change it. This is what unadulterated feminism is, and it is what I identify with.
Let me dive into these myths for you guys:
- The "bra-burning" feminists (or more intelligently put, the Second-wave feminists) were the ones leading the movement in the 60s. They got a little crazy, I'll admit, but they did start the Sexual Revolution, which has been both good and bad. These are the women who fought for oral contraceptives to be legalized, and they are the reason that a lot of you don't already have 14 babies. (Crude? Maybe. But true.)
- Anyone that hates men specifically needs to stop calling themselves a feminist, and start calling themselves misandrists. This is the proper term for someone that hates men. I'd personally call someone that wants more power than men this term, but there could be a different term for it, I'm not sure.
- Let me make this statement loud and clear: Men are not to blame. Yes, back in the day when women weren't allowed to vote, they were to blame. However, I don't blame them. Their mindset was a result of thousands of years of tradition. That's pretty hard to change in a few centuries, but America did it! That's something to be proud of, but we just have to understand that there is more work to do. This "institutional bias" concept is to blame, rather than men, for our struggle in this day and time.
- I am a Feminist, but I also understand that men and women are distinctively different, for a reason. Gender roles have worked out well for so many people for thousands of years, but it's foolish to think that the model where women stay at home and keep quiet, and men go to work and make all the decisions works out well for everyone and always has. Newsflash: It doesn't. Now, I could go into my beliefs as a Christian feminist, but that is for another post on another day.
- I roll my eyes when women themselves get offended by Feminism. I hear a lot "What if I want to be a stay-at home mom?" Then BE that. But because of feminism, and the work that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Feminists have done, you are ABLE to choose another option. If you don't want to be a mother, you have the control over your body to keep it from producing a baby. If you don't want to be a stay at home wife, you are free to go into the workforce and be a writer, an engineer, a Secretary of State, a lawyer, an artist AND (get this) you are also able to be a stay at home mom! Wooo! Yay for choices.
Right? I mean, this is something to be celebrated, isn't it? A generation of women of the past coming together to give their daughters and granddaughters in this generation more opportunity than they had. I imagine the women of the 1910s marching down the streets, fighting for a right to vote, and I swell up with pride. I imagine the women of the fifties, who were culturally forced to be stay-at-home moms, dreaming of being something else and never having the chance, and my heart aches for them. I imagine the women of the sixties (the bra-burners) fighting for their rights to not be treated like props in bed, and the right to choose when they have a child, and I feel proud again.
And then I think of this generation. A generation of women see the objectification and trivialization of women in media every single day, and don't see that feminism is necessary in 2014. And my heart aches once more.
I can't wait for the day in the future when my heart can swell up with pride for us women, and this time I can be involved in the change.
Not-so-radical Feminist rant over.