“Feminist” has become the second dirty F-word. I often see it thrown around as an insult online in the context of “I’ve found the angry feminist” or something similar.
But what’s so bad about wanting equality of the genders? How is that something to be ashamed of? What is so bad about being angry about inequality?
I’m writing this article in response to one of the trending articles on the Odyssey this week, “I Am Not A Feminist, And That Is Okay.” In her article with over 246,000 shares, Amanda Jayne Sankey states that though she believes "Women are not lower than men," she is not a feminist because she wants to be a stay-at-home mom.
“It is completely okay to choose to stay home and be a mother because that is the hardest job in the world” she says. “It is okay to like cooking. It is okay to take care of your husband and children. It is okay to want your boyfriend to ask for your father’s blessing before proposing to you. It is okay to take his last name.” Yes, all of these things are okay.
But then she goes on to say that “Feminists wouldn’t have you believe these things.”
This is where she goes astray. Feminists very much would support those things, if they are what you desire.
There is an unfounded misconception that feminism is against stay-at-home moms, and typical female gender roles. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Feminists strive for females to have a choice in what they want to do.
They believe it’s okay to be a stay-at-home mom, but it’s also okay to have a career. It’s okay to like cooking, but it’s also okay not to. It’s okay to take your partner’s last name, but it’s also okay to not take it, or to hyphenate your last name. It's okay to wear makeup and dress up, but it's also okay to not wear makeup and wear plain clothes.
Feminists believe in giving women the choice to follow certain gender roles, or to not follow them.
There are probably some feminists out there who disagree and think that all women should have careers, not be stay-at-home moms, not enjoy cooking, and not take their husband’s last name. But these people are radical feminists, and they are in the minority. As with virtually any group, religion, or political party, there are always those who take their beliefs to the extreme. But those beliefs do not represent the ideas of the whole. Like Westboro Baptist Church’s hateful actions do not represent Christianity as a whole, radical feminists’ actions should not represent feminism as a whole.
Women should be free to like and do what they please, even if it isn’t a typical “feminine” thing, but they should also be able to follow traditional values if that's what they like. It's all about being able to make a choice.
She says that she “Do[es] not want the power that men are assumed to have, and that is okay.”
There lies a problem in this statement. You can want whatever you want, and if you don’t want the power that men have, then don’t get it. But, just because you don’t want something doesn’t mean that other people don’t want it. Women should be able to have roles of power if they want them.
Every day, around the world, women are treated like objects. Every day, women are assaulted and raped. Women are forced to cover up and be silent. In some countries, women are having their genitals mutilated, being forced into marriages, and are being denied access to education. There are women here in the U.S. being forced into sex trafficking at this very moment.
If you don’t want to call yourself a feminist, that’s fine. It’s your life, and you can do whatever you want. But do know that if you’re claiming to be for equal treatment of the sexes, you are supporting feminism. If you think the things listed above are atrocities, you are supporting feminism.
When you make fun of the feminist movement, or disassociate yourself from it, you are discrediting the very movement that gave me and other women the right to vote, get an education, and be treated like a human being. The movement that is fighting for reform on issues such as equal pay, maternity leave, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and for the rights of women all around the world, among other things.
Maybe you personally don’t have to worry about these issues, but that does not mean that they do not exist and that they are not a reality for other people. It’s like saying that world hunger isn’t a thing because you aren’t hungry. It’s great that you’re not hungry, but many other people are.
I am a feminist, and that is okay. It’s more than okay, it’s wonderful.