What’s Radical About Feminism?

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”
―Rebecca West

Feminism is not men versus women (or women versus anyone)

Feminism involves social, economic, and political equality for everyone

“Feminism is for everybody” – Bell Hooks

Contrary to popular belief, feminists are not trying to emasculate or disempower any group of individuals.  In fact, feminism asks that we give everyone the freedom to live a life that fits them. Feminists believe that gender norms are more fluid than fixed (men make money and women take care of the house). If staying home with children (for men or women) is your bliss, then please, live your bliss. I just wish we could appreciate that we’re all built differently and your bliss might be my misery (and vice versa).

“I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.” – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Historically, feminists have a reputation for excluding women of color, lesbians, and trans-women from their activism.  Intersectionality (cutting across all groups) is gaining necessary and important traction. This means that as a Caucasian woman, I need to do a better job listening and supporting members of oppressed groups as opposed to imposing my privileged perspective. Feminism is for everybody and about everybody. 

What does a feminist look like to me? Here are a few thoughts:

It’s someone sitting at their desk writing a blog. It’s someone able to have a fulfilling career and a bank account. It’s a someone able to go to college and major in what they want and know that jobs are available for them. It’s someone that can vote and have an educated opinion. It’s a someone that has access to contraceptives.  

It’s someone who brings their husband a glass of water and tells him how handsome he is. It’s someone who does the laundry and the dishes. It’s someone that spends way too much time scrubbing the grout in the bathroom. It’s someone who believes in mutual respect in their relationships. 

It’s someone that wants to feel safe walking down the street alone (we still have a lot of work here). It’s someone who can safely leave an abusive relationship (we have a lot of work here, too). It’s someone that can practice their religion without persecution (not even close).

It’s someone that can stay home with her kids or drop them off at daycare (and/or do both). It’s someone that can breast feed in public (because feeding your baby is not a sexual act). It’s someone that runs a business and a household and/or a business in their household. It’s someone that dresses modestly or wears a revealing dress. It’s someone that keeps their last name, hyphenates their last name, takes their partner’s last name (look at all those choices!).

It’s a someone that is compensated fairly (I didn’t pay 30% less for my education to be paid 30% less than someone else for the same job). It’s someone that can defend their country and play professional sports. It’s someone that makes dinner or helps their partner make dinner. It’s someone that has advice or makes a suggestion.

It’s someone that can run for president. It’s someone that can stand on stage and make jokes about sex. It’s someone the balks at body image standards. It’s someone that has an opinion that differs from yours and shares that opinion. It’s almost reflexive to ignore or discount a woman’s opinion, even if you agree with her.

To me, being a feminist isn’t radical at all. Actually, it is a rather simple concept: It’s the freedom to safely pursue a life that best suits who you are as a person.

What I find most confusing are the people that deny feminism but rent an apartment or home without their father’s signature, own a car on their own, work in or out of the home, vote for either party, and use contraceptives. My lovelies, it is the feminists that made those choices possible. And, even if you don’t want to be a feminist, you still have to respect those that paved your path. 

Finally, if you’re not a feminist or do not agree with feminist politics (whatever that means?), that’s fine. But, you do not get to impose your values and politics on my body or my life. I will fight for the right to live my life according to my values. I just resent having to do so.

“I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it. I stand here and I am amazing, for you. Not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you, and I thank you.” – Amy Schumer



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