I have come to a realization as of late… I am a feminist. There, I said it, the dirty, nasty, horrible word. It is a word that for most brings up connotations of angry, man-hating women who refuse to shave. Well, count me in that crowd, please. Except, the image that the word feminist evokes needs to change. There is no set way to be a feminist and we need to quit buying into the idea that standing up for either gender is a negative.
I first learned of feminism when I was a child. It was a word I heard tossed around with some level of reverence despite the way it casually sprinkled the conversations around me. I knew that it had a lot to do with women standing up for themselves, for expecting better, expecting more. In my mind I pictured mobs of angry hippie women with their long hair, no bras, and bell bottoms, yelling for equality. While I saw it as a little crazy on the one hand, I also saw it as something else: I saw it as brave.
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a multitude of strong women. Between my mother, her two sisters, my grandmother, and my cousins I had strong in spades. The men in my family have always treated my sisters and I like we can do anything we put our minds to. Not once in my life has anyone in my family told me I couldn’t do something because I’m a woman.
Even though feminism is a word I have heard in the background of my life, I never thought it applied to me. I never pondered it, and I fell prey to the notion that society wants us to believe, that feminists are angry, man-hating bitches. As I got older and heard the word feminist I started to picture Marcy, the next door neighbor from the show ‘Married with Children,’ and the idea of being a feminist seemed like a joke to me. The image had indeed become an angry woman who couldn’t keep a man, who nagged everyone to death. Besides, women work and vote, we go to college if we choose. It is almost acceptable for women to have sex without commitment and not immediately be labeled sluts (or worse). Feminism seemed to be pretty well set and I waltzed around happily ignorant.
Lately I am realizing it isn’t a done deal, there are so many reasons that clearly display the need for feminism is alive and well today.
- celebrity photo-leaks
- revenge porn
- a woman’s body is still used to make her feel shame
- the fact the word feminism stirs up such strong (negative) opinions
- women earning $0.77 for every dollar that a man earns
I could go on but I think it is clear, in this day and age, for all the progress that has been made there is still a long ways to go. Both sexes are still locked into ridiculous expectations of what they should be. The only thing a person should be is what their heart leads him or her to be.
So, I am announcing the fact that I am a feminist. I will stand up for myself. I will stand up for women (and men) who aren’t able enough to stand up for themselves. I won’t buy into crazy stereotypes and I will do my best to accept people with love and compassion, free of judgement. Why? Because I am a feminist and because every person has the right to be exactly who they are without judgement from others.