Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why Can't I Be a Feminist Too?

Let's do a little exercise. Just indulge me. Read the following word and phrases and ask yourself how each word makes you feel.


The History of Feminism

The Modern Feminist Movement

Thanks readers. Now think about those feelings and keep them to yourself or comment below. The following are my own feelings.

Truth be told, the word "feminism" makes me kind of uncomfortable. Mostly because I don't know how to feel. My following feelings on the two phrases should help you understand why.

The History of Feminism: Well, this makes me feel pretty proud to be a woman. It makes me think of the suffragettes fighting for their right to vote and to have the same privileges as men. It makes me think of women throughout the 20th century who refused to be put in the category of "housewife" simply because of their gender. This phrase makes me feel like we've come a long way, and I'm so grateful. It's a pretty happy feeling.

The Modern Feminist Movement: Well, this one is not so happy. To be honest, it makes me think about angry women wanting to be treated like men. And I don't mean politically--I mean in almost every respect. It makes me think of women who say that they are proud of their female bodies, but don't want to take all the responsibilities of having them. The feeling is sad and frustrating because with these ideas of Modern Feminism, is a feeling of being left out.

I know many, of not most feminists aren't crazy, angry women... some are, but of course there were also plenty of those when the Western Feminist movement first started. I'm just telling you the picture that comes to my head.

I know, too, that pro-abortion and things like refusing to have men open doors for you is not all that modern feminism consists of. But, I feel like it is at least a fairly big part. Maybe I'm wrong, but let's say I'm right.

If I'm right, then that means I'm not a feminist. While I support women's rights for equal political and economic participation (among others), because of a few things I disagree on with modern feminists, I am kicked out of the club. Because I believe abortion is wrong. Because I like it when my husband opens the door for me. Because I don't think it makes sense for women to compete in most sports directly with men [Note: not the same as compete in the same sports as men do] because like it or not, our bodies ARE different. 

Can't a feminist like a little baking too? :)
And, what's more--and perhaps the most damaging to my feminist counterparts--I am a Stay At Home Mom (STAHM). That's right--I actually CHOOSE to stay home with my children every day. I clean the house and I cook dinners. I change diapers  and soothe two sometimes very fussy girls all day. There are weeks were I go days without leaving the house (okay...that's kind of embarrassing...don't judge!). I do the laundry--the closest my husband ever gets to helping is when I beg him to retrieve a load from the dryer. He works all day--achieving tangible goals--while I run around at home all day doing things like cooking meals and making up crafts and things for my two year old to entertain herself with.

I'm aware that according to the above description, I do not fit the "modern feminist" role. And that's why not being able to proudly call myself a "feminist" really bothers me sometimes.

Not because I want to go out picketing for my right to work because I'm oppressed by male authority figures, but because I am a strong woman too and I deserve just as much respect in my position as a woman who decides to work does. I may not work full-time, but I have a four-year degree and try to continue to educate myself. I am a 100% equal partner with my husband in all of our decisions. I'm just as smart and capable of critical thinking as most men and women with my same educational background are. Just because I choose to stay at home with my children doesn't mean I'm oppressed, brainwashed, or stupid. My husband has always said the choice to work outside the home is completely up to me. But staying home is a choice I made that is right for me and my family.

Now, all that said, I should acknowledge that in the past year or two I have seen some shifting in the modern feminist movement. Thanks to talks like Emma Watsons' at a HeForShe campaign event and really incredible mommy bloggers, we're making some progress. I guess I just wish it would move faster.

My daughter can be strong even in a pink leotard.
You see, this topic is especially important to me not just for myself, but for my daughters too. Despite whatever feminism turns into in the future, I want my daughters to know they can be whatever they want. If Eleanor wants to be an astronaut, or a stay at home mom, or ballerina, or a marketing professional my reaction will be the same: "You go girl. You be what you want to be.You do what you were meant to do. "

Because shouldn't that really be the message of feminism? We are capable of doing just about anything, so let's stand up for the right to do what we want--no matter what it is.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh Dana we need to Skype soon! I'm tired right now so my comment isn't going to be as nicely worded or well thought out. But basically, I do identify as a feminist. Do I belong to any specific groups or political parties? No. But I believe that exactly what you said at the end there - women should be free to choose whatever they want - that belief is the core of feminism. To me, that's what being a feminist is all about. It's not about certain feminist agendas or becoming exactly the same as men or any of the spins that people put on that basic concept. I think that being a modern feminist is about changing the "bra burning, man hating" stereotype. I feel like the reason that stereotype is perpetrated is because a majority of the women who speak out on women's issues tend to have extreme views. Those who are more moderate are then afraid to speak out and identify as feminists because they don't want to be put in the same "box" as the man haters, etc.
    But at the heart of it, feminism isn't about whether you're pro-life or pro-choice. Whether you willingly stay at home or are a corporate CEO. It's about changing the societal expectations placed on women, thereby freeing them to make the choices for themselves, without fear. Or something like that. Like I said, I'm tired and my brain isn't very good at the whole critical thinking thing right now. Haha. Love you Dana!