You know, feminist. In my head I like to call myself a feminist. I am a strong woman with a very particular set of beliefs regarding women in society. I think a societal patriarchy has no place in the modern world. I think there should be no expectations as to what young girls and boys should learn, play with, etc. And I absolutely believe there doesn’t have to be a “well that’s the way it is” mentality surrounding tradition and the roles of men and women in this day and age.
Yet, I have trouble saying the words “I am a feminist” out loud. There is just so much that comes with outwardly labeling yourself a feminist.
One the one hand, you get backlash from the number of people who think all feminists are angry, bra-burning, ball-busting, man-haters. This couldn’t be further from the sort of person I am. I tend to be quiet, polite, and a consummate people-pleaser. I really don’t like people assuming things about me without getting a chance to know me. Of course, I know that people make snap-judgments and it’s unreasonable of me to think that they won’t, but with such unfortunate negative stereotypes surrounding feminism I feel like I can never even get a foot in the door with some. I’m afraid that people will be unwilling to listen and be receptive to my beliefs and opinions. It’s a shame because I think that change and acceptance really starts with open and honest discourse. If I can make one person say, “Huh, I had never thought of that,” then in my mind I’ve done a good job, and when they’ve already deemed my ideas outlandish because I’m a self-described feminist I fear I’ll never even get that far.
I am also reticent to call myself a feminist because of the feminist community itself. I often feel like I’m not good enough to be called a feminist. I got married young. I am, at the moment, essentially a housewife. I love baking, entertaining, and, although I hate this word, crafting. I have heard and read “real” feminists rail against all of these things at one time or another. The idea that tends to come across is that you can’t be a true feminist unless you choose a partner (male or female) over a spouse, work in, and rise above, a male-dominated profession, and eschew any activity that could even remotely be described as feminine.
This is, obviously, ridiculous. The point of feminism is equality, and to me that means letting women choose whatever path they want, without interference from the opinions of others. We are all so diverse and will naturally have different interests. Women telling other women what they should do is just as bad as men telling women what they should do!
Plus, I sometimes feel like less of a feminist because there are so many people who are bigger feminists. I actively read about many feminist issues, but I don’t read it all by any means, certainly less than those “real” feminists I keep talking about. I will never claim to be the most knowledgeable or educated on the topic, I simply speak from my heart, and do what I believe is right.
I’ve been thinking about all of these things lately and decided to really try and stop letting other people’s thoughts about feminism fuel my perception of myself. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t we be rallying around any and all efforts towards female equality? Shouldn’t we be glad when people take any step towards feminism and not curse them for failing to jump across the finish line in one bound?
Well today I’m leaving all the feelings of others behind and saying here and now that I am a feminist. I bet many of you are too, so let’s stand together, stop judging who’s the most and least among us and just support one another. Agreed?
Brandi is a lawyer in Denver who spends very little time actually lawyering. She can usually be found working for free at a non-profit, hiking up mountains, or bossing her husband around because he made the mistake of asking her for help with his business one time. She’s horribly technologically inept (unless people still use AIM in which case she’s a genius) and takes one bite out of every donut instead of finishing a single donut in its entirety, which is probably a metaphor for something but she hasn’t figured out what it is yet. You can read more from Brandi on her blog, Randi Nickle.