Feminism seems to be a daily headline these days with several stars like Beyonce and Ellen Page stating that they are feminists, while other stars like Lady Gaga and Shailene Woodley claim they are not. I don’t want to bash anyone that claims they’re not a feminist to each their own. However, the reasons given as to why these young ladies are not feminists baffle me, so this article is going to be about the definition of feminism, the history of feminism, why I call myself a feminist, and why I’m proud to do so.
From Meriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary the definition: Feminism noun ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm : the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities : organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests
Feminism has never been about bashing men, it has never been about taking power from men, we just want and feel we deserve an equal share. As with any subject of intensity, the message gets warped and there are those that would take that message to extremes. But according to the above definition, and my belief system, that is not what a feminist is. A feminist believes in equality, that women should be treated equal to men, not looked down on as the “weaker” sex, or as an object to hold and own. Women have opinions, thoughts, and feelings of our own. Is it so wrong for us to want to be able to speak our minds without getting criticized or seen as, somehow, unwomanly/unladylike (whatever term you prefer)?
In a few of the Colonies, before we became the United States of America, women were allowed to vote locally if they met certain conditions (i.e. landowner, etc.) Those few brave colonies departed from that scenario rather quickly, all except for New Jersey. Abigail Adams even asked her husband (at the time of asking) future President John Adams to “remember the ladies” when the laws were written. Unfortunately, Mrs. Adams beautiful words fell on deaf ears, which started a 144 years fight, just for women to get the national right to vote.
I am of the opinion, that to not call myself a feminist, to not continue the battle for equality that Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and so many others that fought and continue to fight would dishonor their memory and hard work.
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were the founders of the Suffrage movement that started in 1848. No, the word feminism did not make its way to America until 1910. But these amazing ladies were feminists. How can these ladies be considered anything else when their fight was for women to get the right to vote?
If it wasn’t for the Abigail Adams, the Susan B. Anthonys, the Elizabeth Cady Stantons of the world, women would still be fighting for the right to own property and the right to vote. They laid the foundation for equality, I have to continue that fight, because even though we are in 2014 we are still not considered equal. We don’t tell boys/men to not rape, instead we tell girls/women to not wear things that would turn a rapist on. We tell men that it’s okay to hold their feelings in until they explode. Sometimes, that explosion is violent and it’s on that man’s little girl or his wife. Creating a situation that never should have happened, and then we have the extreme audacity to blame the mother/victim. In the court of public opinion, it’s never the abuser’s fault (thankfully this is changing but at an incredibly and painfully slow pace.) Women make 77 cents to every male counterpart’s dollar. How can that be considered equal? Women get fired from their jobs because they are victims of domestic violence, but the abuser gets to keep his. That’s not equal.
I have a four year old son and a 3 year old daughter; I continue to be a feminist because I want them to be on equal footing. If my children decide to get the same job, I want them to be paid the same. I tell them daily to not hit each other, to not fight each other, because I want them to treat each other and others with respect. Yes, men and women have different qualities and different weaknesses, all the more reason to work together equally than as “master” over the “weaker” sex. I dream of the day when only one label is needed, and that label is human. My sources: