Feminism. What does that word mean anyway?
It’s meaning has become somewhat of a blur for me. The year I thought I had totally conformed into a feminist, I rid my space of anything that I thought made me “weak” or “too girly”. Regretfully, my Nicholas Sparks book collection was among those things. The rise of social media has kept the feminist movement a trending topic for many years now and I suspect it will continue to grow in conversation until we see its effect of long overdue changes throughout the world. And so it should be. So what does it mean exactly? For me, Emma Watson’s interpretation describes it best, as she says, “Feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Emma’s conversation doesn’t exclude men from the movement though, in fact, she talks about certain stigmas that the feminist movement shatters, like that men shouldn’t be so “sensitive”.
I frequently question my own views on the subject. How much do I care? How should I act as a woman? How should I dress? How should I speak to men? How should I look? How should I think? I can honestly admit that still, a lot of men (and women) I know on a personal level, would not agree with some of my views on stigmas, particularly among women, that need to be broken down. So, it becomes a topic that I don’t bring up for fear of being misinterpreted in one way or another.
I was on the phone with my dad the other day and I told him that I wanted to write something about feminism, but it absolutely HAD to grab my audience, it had to have an “angle”. Now, I’m not so proud of what I’m about to admit. I wanted to talk about what the goal of feminism is NOT, and moreover I wanted to specifically mention how we do not need to exploit our bodies to prove a point. I realized though, the intention to portray this “angle” would be condescending and entirely un-feminist. You can be any kind of woman you want to be and that’s what feminism is. I have the freedom to actively choose to be more on the modest side when it comes to how I disclose my body. I’m comfortable and confident in making that decision. Some women, however, choose to show more (A LOT more) and while I don’t always agree with it or the intention behind it, it’s their choice. Besides, I’d be the biggest liar if I told you that I haven’t gained a great deal of confidence from public figures like Iskra Lawrence, who has shifted the entire modelling game after she was told she was neither skinny enough or plus-sized enough to be a model. She has unveiled a great deal of her body to “normalize” what society tells many of us women, is a “flaw”. So who am I to say that she’s not contributing to the feminist movement?
I look at feminism the same way I look at Christianity. I’m a Christian. I love God and I try my best to love other people. Still, I know that there are many unsound Christians who will point out “this” and “that” about others, without looking to themselves and maybe asking what they’re doing for others. I’m guilty of that too. There are even Christians who unfortunately won’t support the feminist movement and other social injustices, even within the church.
So, I’m sorry ladies. I’m sorry for my brief moment of superiority and ignorance. If there is anyone reading this who for one reason or another doesn’t understand the feminist movement or chooses to take no position in the matter out of fear of being misunderstood or even mocked, I leave you with this hopefully inspiring quote, despite your religious background, that put everything into perspective for me:
“One needn’t identify as a feminist to participate in the redemptive movement of God for women in the world, The gospel is more than enough. Of course it is! But as long as I know how important maternal health is to Haiti’s future, and as long as I know that women are being abused and raped, as long as I know girls are being denied life itself through selective abortion, abandonment, and abuse, as long as brave little girls in Afghanistan are attacked with acid for the crime of going to school, and until being a Christian is synonymous with doing something about these things, you can also call me a feminist.”
Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s celebrate resilience. To my sisters and my mom, my absolute favorite women, you inspire me everyday. I love you.
Photo by Nicole Adams