You're a Feminist, You Just Don't Know It Yet

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You would never call yourself a feminist.

But the fact that rapists can garner more sympathy from mainstream media than rape victims makes you sick to your stomach. 

And you can't believe that women still only earn about 80% as much as men. 

Sheryl Sandberg's new book Lean In is on your nightstand. And Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" is still your favorite song. 

But you would never call yourself a feminist. 

"Feminist," to you, is the other f-bomb; it's a dirty word. You would never call yourself a feminist because you believe it would mean that you could never show any emotions (except anger) and that you'd have to hide your love for cooking and the color pink. 

You believe being a feminist means you can't love your husband, mother your children, or shave your legs. 

In fact, you are sure you can't be a feminist because you want to be a stay-at-home mom and you know feminists hate housewives. 

And perhaps it was even a woman who calls herself a feminist that told you this. But she was wrong. 

Feminism is simply the belief in the economic, political, and social equality of the sexes. And the bottom line is this: feminism is about choice. Feminism is about creating a world where a woman (and a man) has the choice and freedom to create the life she really wants, not the one society (and family, friends, etc.) tells her she should live. 

Does this mean I'm going to advise a friend who says she wants to be a housewife to be sure this is what she really wants? Absolutely. But I'm going to give the same advice to a friend who says she wants to be a politician, doctor, or lawyer. Regardless of your ambitions you need to be sure they're really your ambitions, and, to me, that's what feminism is all about. 

You may be thinking, "Why does it matter?" Even Beyonce asked that question in a recent interview with the British version of Vogue magazine. Bey said that yes, she is a modern-day feminist, but asked, "Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything?"

And Mrs. Carter has a point. But here's the thing: I don't actually care if you ever call yourself a feminist. All I ask is this -- help a sister out and don't give those of us who do identify as feminists a hard time. The next time you're talking women's issues and the f-word comes up don't fall back on stereotypes and misconceptions to make your point. I believe it matters because as long as "feminist" is seen as a dirty word the causes we feminists stand for will continue to be disparaged or dismissed. And remember that it was feminists who fought for many of the rights you may easily take for granted today.


  1. I have known I was a feminist for a very long time, and even when I was a stay at home mom and housewife. And even with my political right leanings. Yes. I am a feminist. Thank you for putting in writing what I have always considered feminism to be. I believe it was hijacked a long time ago and turned into something else completely so thank you for bringing it back!

  2. I was seriously just talking about this at school pickup today! I'm a Catholic-Southern-SAHM- Feminist! It is possible!

  3. Great piece. I hate the fear of the "the other f word". I admit I was afraid of the word at 18, but I quickly got over that!