“All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”
~Emma Watson, quoting Edmund Burke at the United Nations
I recently watched Emma Watson’s speech to the UN about feminism. I had shivers the whole time. She got me thinking about digging up this post I wrote a while ago, but was too timid to publish, because for some reason “feminism” has recently become a hot-button issue.
Then I read about all the horrible threats she is getting as a result of her speech and shamefully, my first thought was “how terrifying – well, I can’t write about feminism now.”
And that is exactly why I’m posting this.
I am a feminist. An outspoken, virulent feminist.
This means I believe that women deserve political, economic and social equality to men.
This does not mean I hate men. That is not feminism.
That is sexism.
Here are some things about me:
- I prepare my husband’s lunch every day and cook dinner most evenings
- I knit
- I like flippy floral skirts
I am still a feminist.
- I do the DYI fix-it projects in our home
- I like bugs and dirt
- I don’t know how to apply make up
I am still a feminist.
A few years ago when I was graduating from college, my advisor asked me what my plans were. I talked about writing, about some non-profit work I wanted to continue doing in Southern Africa, about traveling with my husband and rescuing a shelter dog.
She looked at me and said “But what about a baby? You have to start planning for that before it’s too late and all that other stuff is just going to get in the way. You must want to have a baby, it’s the most important thing a woman can do.”
After I found my voice, I explained that having a baby was not, and never had been part of my plan. She scoffed at me and said that I would change my mind and that I needed to have a baby because only then would I be a “real woman.”
That’s why I’m a feminist.
Because no one should be allowed to dictate what a “real woman” does or does not do.
Because no graduating male would have been told that his professional aspirations needed to be put on hold to procreate.
My gender should not dictate the dreams I’m allowed to have for myself.
There is nothing wrong with having children, or not having children, it’s a personal choice. There is more than one way to live, and I’m not saying that having children is wrong any more than I am saying that parasailing is wrong just because I don’t choose to do it.
It’s easy for many of us to look around and think that women have it pretty good right now, but the struggle for equality is not over. Women still only make 77 cents for each dollar a man makes, and that number goes drops even further for black and Latina women. And let’s not get into rape and domestic abuse stats.
I see a lot of young women rejecting feminism, and I’m not saying everyone has to be a feminist. But I think feminism has a branding problem. Like Emma Watson says it’s not anti-man. It’s about equality. And I think it’s becoming too common to write off what feminists of the past have done for women and take for granted the rights that women currently have in this country.
To the men: please understand that feminism is not a threat to you. Feminists are not trying to hate you or replace you or undermine you. Feminism is open to you, as well, and it’s an invitation for you to defend human rights and enable your wives, sisters, mothers and friends the freedom to be their authentic selves. In breaking down gender stereotypes, you become freer as well. You are not required to be the breadwinner, you can cry at the movies and walk through the door first if you want to.
And to the women: You don’t have to say you are a feminist. But if you like being able to wear jeans – you should thank one.