Feminist Questioning

Feminist Questioning

Why I choose to be a feminist.

Why are we raising girls who grow into women who think that they need a man to define them, to protect them, to provide for them? I didn’t realize that somehow, overnight almost, we, as a culture, had gone back to medieval times, where women needed a man at all times.

What happened to the fury, the want, the independence that our ancestors fought for? What happened to the trailblazing? When did that fire die? The rally in Times Square, are those forgotten? The freedom of the sixties, where we had the freedom to be yourself and love who you want, where did that go? Is the ambition left behind for us to once again stay at home to bear children, cook, and do housework? Certainly not.

People ask me why I am a feminist, with their lips curling downwards at the word, as if it is dirty. Are you gay, they will ask. Do you hate all men, they continue to question. No, I answer, I just want some to have the same opportunities as men. They will retort the women do have the same opportunities as men. Yes, we may have the same opportunities, but we do not have the same chance of achieving those opportunities, of continuing our ambitions, of not being discriminated the whole long while. For every dollar that a man makes, a woman, doing the exact same job, is only making 74 cents. Why is that? Are we weak? Certainly not, because we are strong. Are we emotional? Yes, but that allows us to connect with the world and people all around us. It allows for us to feel what others might not and to be able to freely communicate these emotions. Then why be a *hushed whisper* feminist.

Me, being a feminist, means and says that I will not give up. I want to see the separation and cultural boundaries between men and women dissolve. Workplaces, life styles, and our culture would be equal. Stay-at-home dads would not seem so crazy and radical. Women and men would make equal amounts of money. Boys and girls wouldn’t be limited to play with certain toys and only watch certain shows. This is the ideal world, but how could we possibly move towards this point?

The most obvious answer to this complex question is to stop sexist stigmas that are holding us back. Saying lines such as “men don’t cry” or “she’s being overly emotional about nothing” would end. What will this do, one might ask? This will allow us to stop being divided by restrictions that are confining us. This will us to be humans who feel things and not have to hide it. Possibilities and will awaken and our equality will be at our fingertips.

Why have gender equality at all though? Wouldn’t that confuse people, sexuality would become confused? Say that you are a parent to a pair of maternal twins, a boy and a girl. Raised in the same environment, schooling, and values, with the same work ethic and ability to achieve. They go into the same field of work at the same office place. This is the best example of inequality that can be easily explained. The girl does the same amount of work as the boy, but doesn’t make the same amount of money. Instead, she gets paid less, does the more “womanly tasks” around the office (cleaning up small messes, bringing sweets to meetings, and decorating for office parties), and is sometimes sexually harassed at times even. Now, as a parent, you listen to your offspring tell you about these differences. Are you hurt for your daughter and tell her to fight against it or do you tell her that that’s just how the world is? Do you tell her not to worry about it because she’ll soon be married and not have to worry about working? These are just the small differences that can mean the whole world to some women.

A woman who has dated many men and goes on dates often is thought of as needy, slutty, and promiscuous. A man in the same situation is congratulated, clapped on the shoulder, and is thought of as “manly.” Why do we have two very different views of the same situation?

Some ask me where my feminist views come from, who inspired them, who raised me to believe like this? They come from being surrounded by a community of strong women, with sturdy faith, and who never gave up. These views also are inspired by my mother. She raised me as a single parent from the time I was five years old. Her faith never wavered, even as the Recession of 2008 hit us hard, and her having only a part time job. I can still remember sitting with her while telling me that anything is possible for women, that my education will one day become my most valued possession and that nobody will ever be able to take it away from me. I remember her telling me that someone’s history does not define their future and that you should never judge someone because of their past or how they look. All that matters is now and what you do with the days that you are given. She raised me around women who never thought of giving up and whose faith was always strong, no matter what got thrown at them.

My background in this amazing community is my inspiration, my reason, my everything for all that I believe in now. How could I be anything else. How could I let their stories go unheard? How could I let their cause not get carried on to the next generation? How could I let myself get carelessly passed on to a man, like business transaction? I can’t. That is why I fight for equality between genders. That is why I am a feminist.

Cover Image Credit: Barbara Freeman

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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To The Girl Who Believes That Feminism Is A Lost Cause: It's Unfortunate You Can't See How Infinitely Capable Women Are

You said I am being too hopeful. You said that there is no point. I say you're wrong.

It was a seemingly boring day. Most of us had just finished our state-based EOC's, but there were bigger fish to fry: Advanced Placement Exams would be starting the following week. These exams would determine whether we got the college credits for the college courses we had been straggling through all year. A group of my female classmates and I were taking a five minute break from studying in our AP U.S. History class when we got into a deep conversation about the Indian culture.

One of my classmates was asking simple questions about what the Indian culture was like; things like marriages, different societal expectations and other cultural differences came about into the conversation.

The conversation eventually moved to focus on education and dream colleges. The girl sitting behind me asked another one of my classmates if she had heard anything from the Emory Summer Program. They started talking about certain residencies they planned on doing, and I tuned out of the conversation.

That was until I heard this: "Did you know they don't bring girls down to see surgery? Only guys."

I turned around, and scoffed.

"Are you serious? Why would they do that?"

They both explained to me that something had happened in which Emory had brought a girl and a guy down to a surgery, but both of them fainted — or at least that's what they heard. The girl sitting behind me went on to say "girls are just more prone to fainting."

What? Listen, I may not be a biology major, but —

"I thought you said the guy fainted too?" I countered. She shrugged her shoulders, and said one sentence:

"It's not like girls can become surgeons anyways."

Seriously? I took a deep breath and said slowly,

"I think girls and guys can both become surgeons regardless of sex. They're both just as capable."

She argued with me that "statistically" guys had more of a chance to become a surgeon. That girls have no chance because universities looked for guys. That not many girls even tried to go the surgery field. She said there was a reason why she chose to not become a surgeon. Again and again, she said that girls had no chance in a male-dominated field.

She insisted that I was being too hopeful. That "realistically" changes in women's rights would not come in our generation but rather in our children's generation. That there was a reason why in history, men were better known than women. That there was a reason why men and women had separate events in athletic competitions.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. But then again, it made sense, right? The reasons why women still have to fight so hard for things such as equal pay — it's because thoughts like these still plague our society.

I was left speechless. My APUSH teacher appeared from behind me almost two seconds later. He asked her:

"Have you ever heard the story of Billie Jean King? The famous female tennis player who beat a man — I can't remember his name — but he said awful things about women and how weak they were."

She shook her head and stuttered out a "no," and he simply replied,

"It's a really impressive story," before walking away.

So, "statistically," sure, men may dominate the field of surgery. But they also dominate the fields of business (did you know there are only 27 women on the Fortune 500 list?) law enforcement, criminal law, the military or any STEM careers, etc.

This does not mean women are not capable of doing those jobs; it's the part of society that still believes we live in the stone age who thinks women are not capable of arguing in front of a judge or saving someone's life in the ER.

My all-time favorite quote is something my mother said two years ago when Trump won the presidency:

"It's not the women who are not ready for America; it's America who's not ready for the women."

And yes, I am hopeful. I am optimistic. Because so much has changed, but there's still a lot more to do for women. You say that that change cannot come in our generation but rather our children's — that mindset is the reason why we still fall behind today. But let me tell you why you are also wrong. Change has been happening throughout all the generations whether you like it not.

Change occurred in 1800s during Elizabeth Cady Stanton's time when she and hundreds of other women published the "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen."

Change occurred in the 1900s when Susan B. Anthony and thousands of women fought tirelessly for women's suffrage and won with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Change has occurred with the recent #MeToo movement, exposing years and years of sexual harassment and rape perpetrators, not just in Hollywood, but in other industries as well.

We can't keep pushing saying that "it's not my issue" or "it'll happen later." We can't keep ignoring the issue; we have to face it and fix it . You said to me that, living in John's Creek, you have never faced sexism in your life, and I envy you for that. That does not mean sexism does not exist.

I pity you for the fact that you remain so close minded about the future of women. Though currently the field of surgery may be male-dominated, there are still women who work in that field. There are women who ignore that fact, study their butts off and work, successfully, as surgeons.

Eventually it comes down to this: you can hide and ignore the issues that beset our community, or you can stand up for yourself and the women around you. Your choice.

But know this: feminism is not a lost cause. I am a woman. I can, and I will.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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