Sometimes I say the word feminist and I can feel people shrinking away from me as visions of bra-burning, and unshaved-armpits dance in their heads. These aren’t just men shying away from these conversations—it’s women. Good friends of mine, who are smart, powerful, successful, strong women. Feminists in all but name. They are scared of this word because we’ve allowed it to become twisted. We’ve allowed trolls and fear-mongers to define this word for us. To create an unflattering picture of what a feminist truly is. So, let’s talk about things a feminist doesn’t have to be.
All feminists burn bras. Personally, I like wearing bras and since my post-pregnancy bras are quite a bit more expensive, I would not take kindly to anyone lighting them afire. In fact, this almost strikes me as anti-feminist because going braless definitely doesn’t “support the girls”.
All feminists hate men. I like dudes. Three out of four of my very favorite people on this planet are men. I value the opinions of men (That sounded very LOTR). I take advice from men. I have mentors who are men. Guys rock! I just believe that for the same caliber of work, I should be paid as much as a man. I believe I should have the same rights as a man. And all those men I told you about earlier? My favorites? They think so, too.
All feminists are female. Wrong-O, my friends. In fact, find the nearest father of a little girl. Ask him if he thinks his daughter can grow up to be anything she puts her mind to. Ask him if he believes in her value and worth. Ask him if he thinks she deserves to go to school. If she should have a chance to play sports. If she should be able to vote. Did he say yes? He’s a feminist.
Feminists wish they were men. NOPE. Being a girl rocks. Next.
Feminists “act like guys.” I’m not sure what that even means. My husband was an athlete through college and beyond. He shoots guns and watches MMA. He also makes a boss carrot cake. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t like flowers. Or sewing. Or watching reality television (although we should really cut back). It doesn’t mean you can’t wear dresses or go shopping. It doesn’t mean you can’t like make-up or getting pedicures. It means you believe that its totally ok for a girl to do things that are traditionally considered male pursuits. Some feminists bake cookies.
Feminists will get offended over everything. I have NEVER yelled at someone for opening a door for me. I love manners. I loved that while I was pregnant people always offered their seat. I love when people say “yes ma’am.” I enjoy being complemented. None of those things make me not a feminist. I was raised in the South. I will cut my eyes at you (male or female) for not holding a door when I come stumbling after you with arms full of groceries and navigating a stroller. Try me.
Feminist are lesbians. Oh friends, let’s get rid of this one. PS: I know a ton of kick ass lesbians who are the kindest most generous moms, friends, coaches, businesswomen and leaders in their communities. You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with me on this point, and if you do, I’m entirely uninterested. Being a lesbian is not an insult. Neither is being a feminist. It’s just being.
Feminists are ugly. The Internet trolls love this one. This one bothers me so much because I think it is the one that does the most damage. It preys on the insecurities of young girls. Growing up so many girls are nervous about their looks. Everyday they are bombarded with impossibly flawless images they are told they should aspire to. Grown women, professionally-lit, are playing high school sophomores on television and in movies. They can’t turn a corner or a channel without these high-glossed images of what a women “truly is.” Have you guys seen the contouring videos? Holy cow! Personally, I don’t know anyone who looks like Blake Lively, or Miranda Kerr, but I know hundreds of women who are smart, successful, kind, powerful and generous. I know hundreds of women whose daughters grow up believing they are the epitome of beauty. Don’t let society take that away from them.
I get why people are scared of the word feminism. Anything we are ignorant of is scary. Anything radical is scary. Radical feminism. Radical Islam. Radical Christianity. Radical Cliff Diving Excursions. I don’t want to sign up for any of that.
I am a feminist because I believe in equal pay for equal work. I believe women should have the right to vote and to hold office, including the highest in the land. I am a feminist because I believe girls should be able to grow up knowing they have the right to learn. I am a feminist because I don’t want my daughter to be afraid to be one.
Let’s fight for this word. Don’t let trolls steal the history and integrity of this word. Don’t let them take away the power behind it. The true meaning of the word feminist lies within the soul of the person who identifies with it—man or woman. The people who are using it for good. The people using it to promote equality and to foster change. The people who are using to celebrate how far we’ve come and look toward the future.
I am woman, hear me roar (sometimes through memes of kittens).