“They punish their women for what sounds like male weakness to me” (121).
~The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
Growing up, I was given the impression that “Feminism” was a dirty word. I’m not sure that was my mother’s intention, but it was the consequence. I think part of that was an extremely conservative reading of the Bible; as well as, a dislike for contemporary feminist thinking: e.g. all women should work outside the home and try for that corporate ladder.
However, now as a 31 year old woman in academia, I have not only gained an appreciation for feminism but have recently come to the conclusion that I am both a feminist scholar and a feminist thinker.
What being a feminist means to me:
- Feminism is about choice. I detest the idea that to be a contemporary woman means looking down on those who choose to stay at home to love, raise, and support their husband and children. It also does not mean that those of us who are not married with children at the old maid age of 31 are in someway defective or unnatural. A woman has the right to choose what life is best for her without being judged for it. I respect those woman who raise their children and support their husbands. They are stronger than many corporate ladder climbers. But that life is not for everyone. Though I desire a husband and family, being a stay at home mom is not a life I desire, and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t think I would have that kind of strength and stamina to be honest. I may be 31, but I’m not yet ready to be a mother. Feminism is about choosing the life that is best for one’s own self without judgment because it is not the same life one’s friends and associates have chosen.
- Feminism is about being safe. I’ve been watching episodes of Law and Order from the early 1990s, and every time there is a rape victim, the victim’s motivations, dress, alcohol consumption, etc. is questioned. To be moderately fair, this is partially a consequence of women filing false charges. However, the implication that a woman was deserving of rape because she was wearing a short skirt or was a little tipsy is appalling. What is even more appalling is that I live in the United States of America in the year 2014 and this same victim blaming is as prominent as ever. Politicians are claiming that “boys will be boys” when discussing the rape of a 5 year old girl. A woman found dead in a fountain is blamed for being out alone at night, even though the cause of death was later determined to be accidental death. The news touts the lost careers of high school football players after they are convicted of raping a fellow classmate. And even high school girls are polled and shown to believe that under certain circumstance (circumstances as trite as the man buying them dinner) it is excusable for a man to rape a woman. Why are women still having to justify their clothing or motivations for being alone with man when they are raped? Why are women forced to be afraid when walking alone at night? Why are women forced to live in fear? In the middle-east, women are being stoned to death for adultery and even rape. Rape cases in Greece are getting overturned because the victim was wearing tight jeans. And in America, women are still being blamed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time when a man chose to violently attack her. Feminism is about the right to walk down the street with out getting honked at and cat-called. Feminism is about the right to be out at night without having friends with her or her keys tucked in her hand “just in case”. Feminism is about the right to wear a short skirt, drink alcohol, and be whoever she wants to be and expect men to control themselves and not be blamed for the actions of men. Feminism is also about treating men with the same respect that women hope for and expect from men.
- Feminism is for both genders. Women expect respect from men and have every right to, but men should also be able to expect the same respect from women. In many ways, the lack of feminist thought is just as detrimental to boys as it is to girls. This whole idea of “boys will be boys” or “be a man” or “man up” are harmful to boys and men. Men are expected to be strong and never cry. Men are taught not to care, not to be emotional, and even that violence is okay. One of the consequences of societies’ views on manhood are women’s perpetual fear of men as well as their victimization. Even something as seemingly simple as the contradiction between “stud” and “slut” is what feminism is about. Feminism is about equality. Yes equality in the workplace, education, and the home. But also equality in respect and impression. Equality in walking down the street or playing at the pool. Because feminism is about equality, it’s not just a woman’s movement, but a perspective that takes a look at the good and the bad and applies all of it equally to men and women.
Feminism does not mean hating men. Nor does it mean that I think the man shouldn’t be the head of the household. I’m not a man hater. I still like to have the door held open for me. Picked up for a dinner date. Given flowers. I like to wear skirts and lipstick and high heels. Hell, I will even admit when at the gym or the pool, I objectify men just as I may be objectified by them. I don’t hold this against them nor do I expect to be judged for it. I don’t hate men. In fact, I love men. I believe in the Bible. I want a husband who is strong and sensitive. One who is the head of the household, but one who respects my mind and my contributions to the family.
The older I get, the more I know my own mind and heart, and the more I learn about the world. And the more I learn about myself and the world, the more I consider feminism. Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism doesn’t contradict the Bible. I argue that the Bible reinforces feminism; as John MacArthur argues, Eve was not taken from Adam’s head to be his superior nor from his feet to be his inferior but from Adam’s side to be his equal.” Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about me feeling safe as I walk from my car to my apartment. It’s about not having to worry about what street lights are or are not working as I walk to my car. It’s about making my own choices and feeling safe regardless of my choices.