“You’re not a feminist; you’re a supremacist.”
“Ninety percent of self-proclaimed feminists want controlling power.”
“The rest of us just want equality.”
Sadly, these are three things I was told this week about my feminist beliefs… by another woman. Today is Women’s Equality Day, and it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that so many women don’t believe that feminism is of any benefit to them. Even worse, they play into a false narrative that is harming society.
If you don’t mind, I’d like to explain why feminism isn’t just cool t-shirts and a girl gang, but a necessary part of society.
A VERY quick history:
Something that high school history classes will never teach you--feminism is broken into three waves, each with the same purpose, but a different goal. The first wave is placed in the nineteenth and twentieth century and circles around women’s suffrage, most commonly known as women gaining the right to vote. Though there have always been women who spoke out against men in support of their humanistic rights, the first wave of feminism is what got the ball rolling.
The second wave of feminism came, you guessed it, in the 1960s to 1980s. This wave focused on gender norms, cultural inequalities, reproductive rights, domestic violence/rape and the roles of women in society, among others. After World War II, women were pushed out of their factory jobs, as men returned home, and back into their domestic roles. While it took some time to see the impact of this wave, there were two notable sparks. First, the science was finally created for an oral contraceptive pill that let women focus on their careers without worrying about unexpected pregnancies. And second, French writer Simone de Beauvoir explained in The Second Sex how male-centered ideology was accepted as the norm, and just because women get pregnant and menstruate, there is no valid reason to play them second to a man.
The third wave, which is currently surfacing, began in the 1990s. I personally think the third wave is the coolest. In this wave, feminists expanded the platform to encompass the rights and protection of people of color and the LGBTQIA community. American writer Rebecca Walker, who coined the term “third-wave,” believes this wave “focuses on queer and non-white women.” This wave, not only focuses on continuing institutional equality, but also stereotypes, language, and media portrayals.
I really don’t understand how women can still be so ignorant to believe that this feminism stuff isn’t a worthwhile cause. In summary, we want equality for everyone. We want a white man and black trans-woman to be treated the exact same. Same benefits, same job opportunities, same respect.
A defense I hear (more often than I’m comfortable with) is that in God’s eyes everyone is equal. Yes, I agree. I was raised in the church and still hold many of the same beliefs. The problem persists because even if God see everyone equal, our society doesn’t. Yes, you can sit and wait for the rapture, OR you can help others. You can strive to make the next generation better, wiser and safer. In all the Bible studies I’ve done, I’ve seen Jesus with the same beliefs as a feminist.
“But I don’t treat those people any different.”
Pause... Think about it... yes you do. Trust me.The lack of equality for one person is the lack of equality for everyone. I grew up in a small town with a lack of diversity, so my understanding of people outside those that looked like me was inept. It was the culture. It was not intentional, but it happened. Now that I’ve spent more than five years beyond the small town limits, I’ve gained a greater understanding, though there is still much more for me to learn.
“But feminists are just baby killers.”
Okay, stop. Do you think abortion is an easy topic for anyone? No. This is an entirely different conversation for another day, but I will say I am pro-choice. I trust that a woman will do what is best for her in the situation of health or safety. It’s not easy, so let’s all stop acting like an abortion is something anyone finds joy in.
Moving forward...things to remember: 1) Feminism isn’t about women gaining power over men; it’s about gaining power for themselves. Sorry, dude; you get a lot, but not control over my body, mind or spirit. 2) It’s about advocating for equality across all levels. It helps protect a colorful-community that is more loving than any I’ve ever met. 3) It is the most badass group of people I’ve ever been around.
I know I missed so many important things. I know this is a broad view of feminism. However, I hope it sheds a little light on something that is so often misunderstood. Feminism isn’t one political party or an aggressive group. It’s a group of people who want to be treated like people.
You don’t have to wear the shirts or use the hashtags or even go to rallies. But, PLEASE, stop sharing a false narrative that feminism is here to hurt you, your family or your religion.
Things to hate if you still hate feminism:
The Spice Girls -- sorry, no #girlpower for you.
Birth Control -- condoms included, ladies!
Freedom of your name -- because your husband or father owned you before feminism.