I am talking with a friend when I find myself saying to her, “Yes, I’m a feminist.”
And she responds, “Okay, I’ve always wanted to ask: what does it actually mean to be a feminist?”
…And in that moment, the idea of feminism just feels so big, so all-encompassing, that I hardly know what to say. I flounder around in some examples about how it plays out in my marriage–my husband is a feminist, too–and how it informs my motherhood, but I leave feeling dissatisfied, feeling I didn’t breathe into my explanation the fire that I wanted to.
So I turn here, to the page, to try to figure out how I actually should have answered her question, with the hope that next time I will be better prepared with my feminist elevator speech.
Part of the problem for me is how do you define something that reveals itself so differently in different people, each of whom has their own politics and religion and personal struggles? The best I can do is say what it means from my own little niche in this world. The best I can do is try to answer the rather simplistic question What does feminism mean to you? And I would say:
Feminism means giving all women the freedom to be who they are, without the worry that they aren’t what the patriarchy or other feminists want them to be. It’s my choosing to be supportive rather than judgmental.
Feminism means giving women power over their own bodies, rather than viewing women through the lens of the male gaze–and it’s taking control of my own body and looking how I want to look, regardless of how I’m “supposed” to look.
Feminism means the occasional loving prod at someone who is clueless about the misogynist comment they just made.
Feminism means writing poetry that celebrates women and challenges patriarchy.
Feminism means being unapologetic that I spend much of my time as a stay-at-home mom, and being clear that this is my own choice.
Feminism means reminding my fellow Christians that God is not male, and maybe making them a little uncomfortable by praying to our heavenly Mother and suggesting that “the Breasted One” is a legitimate translation of the name for God El Shaddai–because I believe in a God who is just as much feminine as masculine, and who celebrates the feminine as holy.
Feminism means the support of women who are oppressed or abused or overlooked: women of color, trans women, queer women, and many others.
Feminism means remembering that comparing oneself to others is never a good idea and that being beautiful is not a competition.
Feminism means choosing self-love over self-hate.
Your turn. What does feminism mean to you?
PS – I also like this article: What Is Feminism?