I thought about beginning this article with a definition of the word “feminism.” After nearly three seconds of thought, however, I decided against it. If you need to brush up on the meaning of feminism, feel free to look it up yourself. This isn’t about a mere description in Webster’s. This is about what feminism means to me. This is why my best friend, my roommate and my sister, all strong women, need feminism. So if you need an explanation, please, I encourage you to find it and then come back to this later.
I grew up in a Southern conservative family. My parents held stereotypical gender roles, like their parents before them. I knew men “brought home the bacon” and women would “fry it up in a pan for them.” I didn’t know anything different, and that’s O.K. too, but not everyone wants that.
As a young child I remember being very vocal and transparent about my love for girl power. My motto was “girls can do anything boys can do,” and I stood by that. I was that little, pig-tailed girl getting mud on her sundress while playing catch with her brother. I tore my beloved Cinderella costume while jumping on the trampoline, and I shared my beautiful, pink Barbie Dream House with a camo-clad G.I. Joe. My favorite pastime was challenging the boys at school to races or arm-wrestling competitions.
Now, as a twenty-year-old college-educated woman, I still believe that girls can do anything boys can do. I believe in equality because, face it, I’ve never been much of a cook, and I sure as heck don’t want to be sitting around while someone else does all the work. I’m an independent person, and I hate being told what I can and cannot do, or what I should do for that matter.
By growing up in a conservative Christian home, I never learned the word feminism. I am still a devout Christian woman, but I do believe many Christians unfortunately perceive feminism as hating men, when this is so far from the truth. I want to get married some day, and I will support and care for my husband. I just need my husband to respect and care for me the same way I do him. Am I not equal in God’s eyes? I can serve Christ and still be equal to man.
I need feminism, and let me tell you why: I need feminism because all humans deserve equal political, economic and social rights. I need feminism because my friends, family members and myself deserve control over our own bodies. I need feminism for the men and women who aren’t lucky enough to speak for themselves. I need feminism because no one should justify rape. I need feminism because I do not feel safe to walk alone at night without pepper spray, and even then I still worry. I need feminism because sisters deserve the same chances their brothers get.
I do not believe women are better than men, but I do believe they are equal.