Growing up, I was the quintessential "tomboy." I worked on the farm, didn't brush my hair, wanted to wear overalls just like my dad, had a pair of rubber boots that I wore more often than not, and loved to get in the dirt. Feminism wasn't necessarily in my vocabulary at that time, but I knew I didn't fit "normal" female expectations, nor did I feel the need to.
To my great pleasure, my parents fostered this. I wasn't pressured to like dolls, although I did, and I wasn't forced to be "girly," though sometimes I was. I was encouraged to be me, and that me wants every girl, no matter her race, sexual orientation, or gender identity, to have the same: the opportunity to be the type of person she wants to be. I enjoy things that aren't socially thought of as "girly" but I do like to be feminine on my own terms. I love to be outdoors and I don't mind to get dirty. I wear work boots. I have an avid interest in the dairy cattle industry. I don't like bright colors or chickflicks. I work full time. I like to wear dresses. I wear makeup and style my hair, but only when I feel like it.
Feminism has allowed me to choose the type of woman I want to be. A woman with a career. A woman who votes and is actively involved in politics. A woman who is independent. Because of feminism and the fight of women in the past, I am able to be me. But it doesn't stop there.
Feminism is defined by Merriam-Webster as 1. the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, 2. organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. To me, these are good, solid definitions. Feminism is about equality, and the right to be who you want to be. Everyone's version of feminism looks different, but every version desires equality.
As a feminist I get asked a lot of questions. What do women endure that men don't? Aren't women already equal to men?
The short answer is no. Women are not equal to men. And I'll tell you why.
We will be equal when not a single woman has to fear being cat-called. We will be equal when women can go into a bar without the fear of being groped or grabbed. We will be equal when women don't feel as though we need to avert eye contact so that a stranger won't make unwelcome advances. We will be equal when the conversation surrounding sexual assault turns from what were you wearing, and how much did you have to drink to sexual assault is unacceptable, no. matter. what. We will be equal when females aren't expected to dress in a certain way, to shave certain parts of their bodies, to pursue certain career fields, to play with certain toys. We will be equal when women aren't shamed for being stay-at-home moms, and similarly shamed for being working mothers. We will be equal when women can make their own decisions surrounding their bodies with the guidance of a medical professional, and not a government official. We will be equal when women aren't told how to dress their bodies to meet society's expectations. We will be equal when we can travel alone safely and without fear. We will be equal when our coworkers don't ask us to wear makeup so as to look professional.
We will be equal when the conversation turns from telling women that "this is just the way it is" to understanding that this is not the way it should be.
So, no, women are not equal to men. But I hope that one day we will be. I hope that one day, generations of women that follow mine will have the opportunity to be a man's equal thanks to the women who are fighting for their rights now. To have equal pay for equal work. To go out with their friends and not fear unwanted sexual advances. To be called intelligent and kind before they're called pretty or sexy. To be a stay-at-home mom, or to be a working mother without scrutiny. To be viewed as a leader instead of bossy. To have important roles in government. To have the freedom to choose the path they want to take in life, instead of one that's preplanned for or expected of them by society.
We may not be there yet, but man, are we getting close. I've never seen so many women want to fight for their rights - all of the rights listed above. Women and men are fighting for equality together. That's some exciting stuff. I am hopeful that future generations of women will have these rights. That makes me a feminist.
So yes, I'm a feminist. And that's not a bad thing.
Hi, I'm Madeline
Blogger, teacher, writer, traveler, reader. Welcome to Mad's Muses!
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