I come from a family of strong women. Strong women, who are loved by husbands, dads, grandfathers and uncles strong enough to love us. We have been taught to be kind, to give grace, to be thoughtful in our actions, and to be fierce in our beliefs. Most importantly, we’ve been taught to be who we are, unequivocally as women. Femininity is a wonderful and complex mixture of vulnerability and ferocity. It saddens and surprises me that there are many women today that treat feminism as a dirty word or as an outdated idea. When people speak in generalities and blanket feminism under an umbrella of women wanting to have everything equal to that of men, we are injuring ourselves.
The fact that women still suffer economic and work imbalances as compared to men is an egregious disparity. The right to equal pay and job opportunities should also not negate the right of mothers to demand improved standards of maternity leave. Feminism should not be misconstrued as women wanting to become more like men. It is women demanding to be equally accepted in this world for who we are and for that which makes us uniquely WOMEN. I don’t have enough hands to count the number of times a colleague or friend has jokingly asked if I’m a feminist. I’m a woman. Of course I am. How could I not be? Nearly 90% of the time what follows is a ridiculous litany of oversimplified, irrelevant questions, the point of which I have yet to understand.
“Do you want a guy to open doors for you?” – Yes, I do. Still a feminist.
“Who should pay for the first date?” – The guy. Watch out, I’m still a feminist.
“Would you want to be a stay at home mom?” -Absolutely. And I’m still a feminist.
Ask me about poverty among women and how that affects our children. Ask me about the financial, physical, and emotional abuse of women and what continues to feed that cycle. Ask me about the blatant objectification and disfigurement of women’s bodies and how that destroys our culture and relationships. Ask me about the pervasiveness of human trafficking or those languishing in immigrant detention centers. Ask me about relevant issues that encompass all that I am as a woman and then we can have a real conversation about feminism.
“Equality should not mean that men and women must be identical in everything—it should mean treating people as individuals regardless of their gender” – Cathy Young
Meaningful conversations should impact the men in our lives as well, as one gender cannot healthily function without the other’s healthy functioning. Regardless of our race, economic status, religion, or sexuality, we coexist together, not separately. We need each other to be the best that we each can be. Men should desire for women to lead healthy, fulfilling, safe and equal lives, just as women should desire the same for men.I pray that one day, the world will be a different place for my daughter, a place where women’s lives matter just as much as men’s lives, not because we contort ourselves to fit the world’s masculine standard of equality, but because men and women are equally free and safe to be themselves.
“I asked a Burmese why women, after centuries of following their men, now walk ahead. He said there were many unexploded land mines since the war” -Robert Mueller