I have always been a feminist. I just wasn’t always aware of it. In college, my thought process and lifestyle was given a name. Since my first class in Women’s and Gender Studies, I knew that’s what it was. I was a feminist.
I’ve defined the term, but I will gladly do it again because so many people are confused as to the meaning. Feminism is the fight for gender equality, the fight for both genders – male and female – to be seen and treated as equals.
So, why I am a feminist?
Look at the history of our country. Women have never been seen or treated as equal to their male counterparts. We are STILL fighting the battle to gain equal representation and equal pay for equal work. Our Oklahoma Senators voted down the Violence Against Women Act THIS term.
Granted compared to the rest of the world, America is doing pretty well for its women. (But don’t take this as an excuse to stop fighting!) In other countries I’ve visited, men and women are separated in worship. Women can’t speak for themselves or make their own decisions. Women are forced into arranged marriages. Female genital mutilation. World-wide sex trafficking. Child prostitution and pornography. Date rape and domestic violence.
And these are not just offenses against women. Men are victims too.
Feminism is not only the fight for women’s rights, but also a fight for men’s rights. Unfortunately, it’s women’s rights that are more often abused.
On a smaller scale, I’m a feminist because I’ve been told my role as a woman is to get married and have children. “A woman’s place is in the home.” Most of my life, I didn’t want to get married. I’m still not sure about having children. I thought for a long time something was wrong with me.
I’m a feminist because I want to do ministry. In ministry women marry pastors or work with children. I tried and tried and tried to find a pastor/youth minister/missionary who would marry me. I forced relationships and bounced from boyfriend to boyfriend looking for a minister so I could do what women do in ministry. A compromised a lot to be with men who were going to be ministers. Until I gave in and married the man I truly loved. When I learned I could do ministry as a woman outside of marrying a pastor.
Working with kids wasn’t for me either. I worked at children’s camps, taught VBS, volunteered in children’s ministry…because women are great with children right? NOT all women. I was an exception. No one liked that I took my name off the nursery list at church. But, my place was not children’s ministry. And it doesn’t have to be.
All the lies I bought into about the type of ‘woman’ I was supposed to be, what role I was supposed to play, who I was supposed to be with…feminism stripped away the titles, the boxes, the rules of the game, all of it. It set me free to be the woman that God created me to be.
Being a feminist has taught me that it’s not society or culture who is allowed to define me. It’s me. And because I follow a God who loves and cares for me, I use his word to define who I am. He doesn’t devalue or degrade and he doesn’t treat me differently because of my gender.
I’m a feminist because I like having a pixie cut. I like having a full-time job. I like sharing homemaking responsibilities with my amazing husband. I like have a hyphenated name.
I’m a feminist because I like having an identity outside of my husband/marriage. I like being a follower of Jesus first, an individual second, and a wife third. I like being an equal partner in our relationship instead of a second class citizen with no opinion.
I’m a feminist because women matter…here and around the world.
I’m a feminist because not all women are the same. Not all were created with the skills to raise children, or keep up a home, or get married. I’m a feminist because I want women to know THAT’S OKAY!