Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Might Be a Feminist Too...

[Note to readers: This week we are running a series of posts that discuss what it means to be a feminist. Today, we are honored to have Sally of Jump Off a Bridge as a guest writer. These are her words...]

For as long as I can remember, I've been a feminist. Before I even knew there was a word to describe what I was and what I believed. So when I found out there was a word, I practically tattooed it on my forehead (hmm… that's not a bad idea).

I've just always thought that men and women should have equal rights. It doesn't matter that there are biological differences. It doesn't matter that history tells us otherwise. We need equal rights and opportunities. Plain and simple.

Because I'm loud and obnoxious about my feminism, I've had quite a number of debates with people who look at me like I'm dirty or dangerous when they hear I'm a feminist. I'll offer my favorite story.

My guy's aunt could barely say the word "feminist" without getting a look on her face like she just swallowed sour milk. I started asking her questions:
Do you have a job?
Do you believe you should keep the money you make instead of giving it to your father or husband or brother?
Of course
So you consider yourself pretty independent?
Then, I hate to break it to you, but you're probably a feminist.
No I'm not, just because I keep my own money?
Well, there was a time way back when, when women weren't allowed to keep any money or property. Women had to fight to earn that right.
Really? I never knew that.
Just like they had to fight for the right to get divorced from abusive men, keep their own children, make their way to the top at their jobs.
Well, I knew that, but not everybody wants that.
You're right, but feminism gives you a choice. We didn't have that choice before and now we do. That's why I'm a feminist. I want to keep fighting for all the choices we should have that we don't.

Somewhere around here, my guy came into the convo and said he's a feminist too. This seemed to boggle her mind. We explained that feminism is about men AND women. Sure, we're different. Some differences are biological, some social, some a mixture of the two. But that doesn't mean that gender stereotypes don't hurt us all.

At the end of our little chat, she said "Well… I guess I'm a little bit of a feminist." *sigh* It wasn't a full "conversion," but I think I'd call that a success.

I think being a "good" feminist—or at least the feminist I aspire to be—means actively working towards equality, fighting other social inequalities (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), analyzing situations and people with a critical but also open-minded and fair eye, and constantly pushing myself to grow.


Lynn said...

That's great! Nice to meet Sally!

professor what if said...

Sally, congrats on getting the aunt to be 'a little bit feminist.' Conversations like these with the 'I am not a feminist, but' crowd are so important.

Sally said...

Thanks for posting this! And nice to meet you too lynn, thanks for stopping by my blog!