I have said it before and I will say it again – I am a feminist. No apologies, no explanations, a simple statement.
So, a question – are you a feminist? Chances are if you are reading my blog, you will say yes. But, if you just stumbled across this without following any of my other writings, you may say no, I am not a feminist; why would I want to be associated with feminism?
My quick answer to that would be, once again, simple – you are a woman.
Maya Angelou once said “I am a feminist. I’ve been female a long time now. I’d be stupid not to be on my own side.” A simple statement that makes more sense than most things about feminism that I have read.
The more complicated answer would be – you are a human being.
Women have been fighting for equal rights for decades. We got the right to vote in 1920, after years of pain and struggle. We have had to fight to be able to work outside the home, even though we are still only paid $.70 to every dollar a man makes. We were treated as property, unable to make our own decisions, our own purchases, get credit. Even today, in 2015, women are not treated as individual human beings, but only as sexual beings, used to sell anything from cars to a damn cheeseburger. It is difficult to walk down the street without being harassed, assaulted, violated in some way. After fighting for the right to choose, we are once again, decades later, fighting to keep the right to make decisions for our own bodies, whether or not to have children, take birth control, make choices about our own health. Conservative politicians are attempting, and in some instances, succeeding in taking our rights away one by one, pulling us back into the dark ages. Some of these politicians are calling for public shaming of women who get pregnant without being married, although there is nothing to be done for the men who got them pregnant. Girl-children are being molested by people in their own families and certain of these politicians defend the molester, and ignore the damage down to the victims.
These things are also damaging to men, who are expected to do certain things, behave in a particular manner and never show emotion.
Feminism, sexism, racism, all these -ism’s, are dangerous and deadly, and are intertwined. The destruction of Mother Earth and veganism are also connected in the form of eco-feminism. The patriarchal culture that we live in damages everything that it comes into contact with, including men. This culture believes that it has dominion over everything; women, children, animals, the planet.
Animals are destroyed for food, for the pleasure of sick individuals, for money, i.e. dog-fighting, racing. Look at just a couple of articles on factory farming and be sickened at what is being done to animals, and by extension, the humans working in and on these factory farms.
Take a look at the extreme weather patterns that have surfaced lately from the unbelievable 100+ inches seen in the Northeast, to the flooding in Texas, to the drought in other parts of the country, earthquake tremors in Maine. These are just in the US and does not even begin to touch what has happened in other countries around the world.
You might ask – are you nuts? What does all of this have to do with feminism? Plenty. The way women are treated is the way the planet is treated, the way children are treated, the way people of color are treated.
Women create life and bring it into this world, where it is destroyed by the society, the culture that surrounds it. Girl-children learn quickly how to stop being in love with life, and just keep their mouths shut, be pretty, please men and everyone else around them. They learn that they are not enough just as they are, but that their importance comes from how they look and how they behave. Boy-children are taught to be macho, not to cry, be assertive and forceful. Both sexes suffer from the culture they are exposed to.
Feminism is not just for white women to make themselves feel better. Feminism is for ALL women of all colors, those who have a double fight of being both a woman and a woman of color. It is for children, and yes, for men. It is for the planet. Feminism is for everyone who wants to live in a better world, in peace, on a planet that is not being destroyed on a daily basis by those who live upon her.
So, no feminist is not a dirty word. It is not a word to be ashamed of. It is a word that brings the hope of things being better, of a more peaceful and happier world. Feminist is a word that should be reclaimed, and I, for one, am proud to do so.