Honestly, I’ve been meaning to write this post forever, but I’ve put it off because I’m nervous about it. But at the same time I think it’s worth sharing why I consider myself a feminist and what that means to me.
“Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”
Personally, I don’t remember learning the word feminism or ever thinking it was bad. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because I grew up thinking that Topanga from Boy Meets World and Jessie of Saved By The Bell were pretty awesome, although now I know they’re not model feminists. Some of my favorite fictional characters when was young, and still today, include Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, Jo from Little Women and Mulan of, well, Mulan. The media definitely shaped my worldview of men, women and our society, as I’m sure it did for you, too. Even though there are plenty of negative images and stereotypes in the media, I’ve tried to analyze all of it from a young age and found myself drawn to strong female characters.
It wasn’t until college that I started to analyze and take on the word feminism for myself. In my first Ethnic and Women’s Studies class my third year of college, the professor asked those of us who considered ourselves feminist to raise our hands. I hesitantly raised my hand whole looking around the room to see who else would. But then I thought, “Hey wait, of course I am.”
That led to me learning more about feminism from professors, friends, books and Tumblr. Yep, Tumblr. Here’s some of what I’ve learned and why I’m a feminist.
What feminism has done for me (and you)
Although feminism is a relatively new term in history, the idea that men and women should be treated as equals has been around for longer. And it’s not going away any time soon. First there were suffragettes and then some 60 years later came the women’s liberation movement, which is now considered the start of the feminist movement.
Women are allowed to inherit, own, buy, sell and transfer property now. By around 1900, every state in America had given women control over their own property. Before that, property rights largely depended on marital status (unmarried, married, widowed) and varied state by state.
Women can vote and hold public office. Hattie Caraway, an Arkansas Democrat, became the first woman elected to the US senate in 1932. Thanks to the hard work of suffragettes, women achieved the right to vote in 1920.
Women could and did get fired from their workplaces before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978. My grandma was fired after her managers found out she was pregnant with her first child.
Why I still need feminism
Recently, someone started a Tumblr called “Why I Don’t Need Feminism.” You may have heard of it by now, depending on what you look at on the Internet. This Buzzfeed listicle tells about it. Now, I’m not saying every girl needs to call herself a feminist by any means, but some of these girls have got it all wrong. They’re talking like being a feminist means hating men or thinking women need to be elevated above them, which is not true.
I still need feminism because I believe all people deserve to be treated with respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or anything else.
I mean, that’s what I’ve been taught since elementary school or before that even! Love your neighbor as yourself. Stand up for your rights. It’s not about playing the victim. It’s about working towards a better future.
Today there a variety of issues feminist stand for, including access to birth control, abortion, same-sex marriage But feminists don’t need to agree on all these issues for them to be considered feminists. Just want to make that clear.
Some of the biggest issues facing women today are violence against women, the wage gap and the poor treatment of women in the media.
Opportunities for education and work for women need to be improved both in the United States and around the world. Less emphasis should be put on body image, which would help not only women, but men too. The world isn’t all that safe for women or the LGBTQ community. This is something we still need to work on.
We need to care for each other as a society and as a world.
What do you think about feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist? What do you think are some of the biggest issues facing women today? Let me know in the comments below.