In my Why I Marched post, I shared with you how the silver lining of this past election was how I feel like I am more me than I have ever been before. The dire circumstances of the election forced me to step into myself wholly and unapologetically. I took a stand and said this is who I am, whether you like it or not and I will not be silenced.
What surprised me the most outside of having to take the stand in the first place (I mean come on people, what year is this??) is that I had to adopt the whether you like it or not attitude about my beliefs. Specifically my feminist beliefs. Shouldn’t we all be feminists by now? Shouldn’t we all think that women and men deserve equal rights and opportunities. Shouldn’t we all think that women should be free to make choices that best suit themselves just as men should be free to do the same?
This past election was a bit of a coming out for me. Although I feel like I have been a feminist all of my life, I’ve never felt like I had to take a stand until this crazy election showed me just how much work still needs to be done. And yes, I know that is my privilege talking. I own it and I am humbled by it. I have had the privilege of not having to stand up because I was mostly okay even when other women were not.
And when I did finally stand up and wore my feminist badge on my sleeve, I was met with mostly support. However, I did receive a lot of criticism that caught me off guard. Most of the criticism was from people I didn’t really know but it was still hard to wrap my head around why someone would be put off be my being a feminist. When did feminism become a dirty word?
Those that criticized my feminist ways were the first to try to insult me. Although the insults were usually questionable. For example, one fine stand up man, told me I must be a hairy lesbian. I knew it was meant to be an insult but how did he expect me to be insulted by that? Does anyone really care if I am hairy or not hairy? Does that really hold some sort of value? I can be both hairy or not hairy depending on the day, week, season, etc. I mean that’s the cycle of life isn’t it? And how is saying I like women an insult? Women are great. Men are great. Love is love. Clearly some people need to work on their insults or at least consider their audience before laying down their smack talk.
In addition to the insults, I discovered that a lot of people think feminism is something other than what it really is. Let me repeat, feminism is the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities. Any dictionary will tell you this but somehow along the way people have identified feminism as anti-male and pro-choice.
Let me clear some things up for you. Being a feminist does not make me or anyone else anti-male. In fact, I am very much pro-male. I want women and MEN to have equal rights and opportunities. When that happens many doors will open up for both women and men. Think about all of the boys who have been told that boys don’t cry, boys don’t have emotion, boys don’t wear pink etc. None of that is true. Boys and men should be able to cry, show emotion and wear any darn color they please. As a boy mom, I am teaching my son that his life should not be limited by the script that society has assigned to his gender just as I am showing him that I refuse to live by the script that society has ascribed to women.
Being a feminist also does not mean you are pro-choice. In my case, I am pro-choice because I believe in bodily autonomy. I believe in allowing people to make decisions about themselves and their bodies even if they are decisions that I may not make for myself. But there are plenty of feminists who are not pro-choice. The two belief systems do not necessarily go hand in hand.
So if we all can agree that at its root, feminism is the belief that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities, shouldn’t we all be feminists?