Recently, Odyssey shared an article on its Facebook page titled, “I'm An 18 -Year-Old Female And I Will Never Be A Feminist.” I read it, interested in learning where the author and I differed in our opinions. I grew up believing that “feminist” was an empowering word as it stood for someone willing to fight on behalf of equality. But as I read Macey's article, I was struck by how she never actually touched on what the definition of feminism is; rather, she talked about common misconceptions rooted in a personal understanding of what "modern day feminism" represents.
Macey: I’m not writing this to start a fight or to say you’re wrong. I just want to offer you clarification on what feminism offers women, including you. While I can't speak for everyone, I feel like you might have gotten a misconstrued image of the term "feminist"; thus, I would like to offer another way to view feminism, a way that maybe you haven’t thought of, just as I had not thought of yours.
I grew up in a house led equally by a mother and father who believed in me. They didn’t tell me I could do everything, because, like Macey, I too cannot possibly “carry a 190-pound man back to a safe zone after he was shot on the front line of a war even if I tried.” But they also didn’t stop me from setting my mind to something. For years growing up, I played on ice hockey teams dominated by boys and my dad coached me just the same. When I turned 12, he told me that I had the option to play on an all girls travel team and ultimately, I joined the girls team and made some fantastic friends.
But the key thing to note in that statement is that my dad didn’t tell me I had to stop playing on boys house teams, or even stop playing hockey because it isn’t a feminine sport. Everything in my life has been my decision: my career path, where I go to college, what I do my free time, what I wear, and my physical appearance. Growing up with modern feminist parents gave me the opportunity to have the freedom and support in making any choice just as much as my brother would.
In regards to your claims that feminists hate Donald Trump because it’s “cool”, I would like to toot my own horn and bring back my article regarding why “locker room talk” isn’t acceptable. I don’t hate Donald Trump because my friends do, or because I voted for Hillary Clinton, or simply because I’m a Democrat; I don’t believe he is a capable leader and I don’t think he’s open-minded enough to run a country with such a diverse population. And yes, being a feminist does play into my perception of Trump because I think it sends the wrong message that we’ve elected a sexual predator to the White House.
But even so, I live my life day to day without checking his Twitter. I too am not spending my time running a revolution against anyone who likes him. But that’s not because I’m a feminist; that’s because I, as an individual, just do not like him.
You said it perfectly: Women must stand up for what they believe in and be strong in their shoes. That’s modern feminism, that’s what feminism overall gives women the ability to do. It has given us education, voting rights, career opportunities, and control over our own lives. That’s it.
So when I say I’m a feminist, I’m not saying that I hate boys, or that I think girls are always unequivocally smarter or better, or that we are built equally. What I am saying is that I believe everyone should have just as much right to get paid the same amount for the same amount of work, to not be told how to take care of their bodies, to not be told they can’t do something just because of their gender, to feel safe when walking across campus at night, to feel safe at all times in our lives, to be told that I can train enough and lift a 190-pound man if I ever should so want to.
Feminism is complex and nuanced and intersectional in so many directions. It is also, however, not easily disproved by telling me that I physically can’t lift that much. You’re right; I’m 5’1” and have no upperbody strength, I can’t even dream of being able to lift a man that weight. But feminism, to me, means that I still have value if I were to fight on the front line. It means that I won’t be told to stop before I have the chance to try.