I Am A Feminist And That Is Okay

Feminism wants to give both sexes the ability to choose their lifestyle, not dictate their lives.

“I am not a feminist.” A sentence that starts a 524-word article titled, “ I am not a Feminist and that is Okay ” that is filled with alarming ignorance. Whenever someone claims that they aren’t a feminist the first question I have to ask is, “How do you define feminism?” As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes

“Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for equal pay.”

Equal pay for equal work is one of the main tenants of the feminist movement. You’re claiming to not be a feminist though you claim to hold feminist ideals. The author of the article then goes on to defend the claim that women are more domestic and nurturing than their male counterparts.

“Why do you think women give birth? How could you not be nurturing after carrying a child inside of you for nine months? And it is completely OK to choose to stay home and be a mother because that is the hardest job in the world. It is OK to like cooking. It is OK to take care of your husband and children. It is OK to want your boyfriend to ask for your father’s blessing before proposing to you. It is OK to take his last name. Feminists wouldn’t have you believe these things.”

Just because women are able to physically give birth, this does not mean that their male counterparts are unable to be as equally nurturing. Feminism is the belief in equality for all sexes. Men and women can be equally nurturing and domestic—neither of these two descriptors specifically belong to women. This claim demeans men as parents, and it assumes that they are only capable of being bank accounts. As a feminist, I do believe that as a woman it is OK to stay home and take care of your children. It is OK to like cooking. It is OK for your boyfriend or girlfriend to ask your father for his blessing before proposing. It is OK to take your significant other’s last name. I support all of these claims as long as the woman chooses to stay home and take her significant other’s last name if it is her choice. As for cooking, the chef world is a male-dominated industry, so if anything, feminism is here to promote equal opportunity for all of the sexes. For too many women, these choices are not afforded to them. They are forced to stay home and care for their children without their consent. In some countries, women are not allowed to vote or drive. They are unable to hold political office or are forced as children to marry rich, older men.

“But listen carefully when I say that you are not called to submit to any man but your husband.”

When I first read this line, I almost fell over. Men and women are equals. There is no reason for one sex to dominate the other or for one sex to submit to the other. This claim also lends support to the archaic belief that women are naturally submissive, a harmful stereotype that reinforces gender roles.

“And women are not lower than men. But I do believe that the man is the head of the household. The man is to be the provider, protector and leader of his family. That is a lot of pressure. And I don’t understand why feminists want to take it on.”

So, women aren’t lower than man, but as a woman, I am supposed to submit to my husband and allow him to lead the family. A woman is just as capable of providing for a family as proven by multiple successful families headed by women and single women everywhere. Why do I need a provider, a protector and a leader? I can provide for myself, protect myself and be a leader for myself, peers and community. I am blessed to have the opportunity to attain higher education so I can do so; a basic right that is not afforded to many women across the globe.

You don’t understand why a woman would want to be a leader in their own right? How about to strive to create a world of equality and equal opportunity for all people? By claiming that these roles create a lot of pressure that women are unable to take on, you are again reinforcing the harmful and ignorant stereotype that women are not as capable as their male counterparts (aka the reason we all need feminism).

“I am not a feminist, and that is OK. I do not want the power that men are assumed to have, and that is OK. I want to be a mom who takes care of her children and doesn’t miss out on their lives. And that is OK.”

None of these things are OK. By claiming that you aren’t a feminist, you are ignorantly ignoring the plight of all of the men and women who are not as privileged as you. Women represent 51 percent of the world’s population, and we have a strong voice that should be represented socially, politically and economically. An empowered woman is able to care for her family, pursue her career and be able to do both simultaneously if she chooses. Choosing to not care for your children as a homemaker and instead caring for your children by working to provide them through a career is not any less noble. Yes, you may not see your kids 24/7, but as a woman, should I be vilified for choosing to work to provide for my children instead of being a stay-at-home parent like so many of my male counterparts are able to do?

You act as if the feminist movement only cares about "free the nipple" and Hilary Clinton, but it also draws attention to the atrocities inflicted upon women in countries other than America. You also neglect the fact that feminism works to liberate men who are confined by damaging gender roles and the bounds of our hetero-normative society. Feminism works to end the practice of child brides, genital mutilation and the overall oppression of women internationally. Just because you are privileged and do not necessarily experience this, there is an overwhelming percentage of women that are not allowed to go to school or have proper menstrual sanitation. So no, it is no OK to not be a feminist and no, you do not understand it. There is no room for compromising with your willful ignorance. You aren’t a feminist, and that is not OK.

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