You know it's a funny thing; I hear so many women say "Oh no, I'M not a feminist", that it actually shocks me. They say it like it is a bad thing to be. That they simply could not imagine it being a part of their identity. That they need to separate far from themselves. DANGER!
I think there are many, many preconcieved notions on what a feminist is. What they think, say and do. What they look like.
There is not ONE type of feminist. There are millions. There are some groups that are radical. I would argue these are a small minority.
What does being a feminist, or feminism, mean to you? To me it is not scary. To me it means to be PRO woman, not ANTI man, as many seem to think. You don't have to hate men and not shave your legs to be a feminist. You can even wear lipstick! LOL.
Liberal feminists, for example, believe "all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality, therefore it is possible for change to happen without altering the structure of society."
If you believe women should be not discriminated againt because of their gender, in our right to choose our own calling, our right to be educated, or that we should have voting rights then you are already really a feminist, whether you call yourself one or not. It's not a dirty word.
Katha Pollitt said, "A feminist is a person who answers "yes" to the question, "Are women human?" Feminism is not about whether women are better than, worse than or identical with men. And it's certainly not about trading personal liberty--abortion, divorce, sexual self-expression--for social protection as wives and mothers, as pro-life feminists propose. It's about justice, fairness, and access to the broad range of human experience. It's about women consulting their own well-being and being judged as individuals rather than as members of a class with one personality, one social function, one road to happiness. It's about women having intrinsic value as persons rather than contingent value as a means to an end for others: fetuses, children, the "family," men". That doesn't mean those things can't be a part of your life.
You may or may not also have differing views on religion, abortion and reproductive rights from other feminists. That does not exclude you from the 'club'.
Yes, Virginia, suburban stay at home mothers can be feminists. You can choose to stay at home, and be a feminist, believe in equal rights, raise your children and be outraged when women are dealt a raw hand. You can sew, knit and crochet and be a feminist. You can choose to work, to not have children, whatever you want. You can be religious, or atheist, and be a feminist. There's no box you have to fit in, no checklist you must adhere to to gain membership.
You can also be a man and be a feminist. My own husband says he is too, as he believes in equal rights for women.
I respect and honour the women that fought so hard to give me the vote. People actually died to help give me (and you) that privilege. People protested, jumped in front of horses, went on hunger strikes and were imprisoned so that I could exercise my own freedom of choice. What a gift.Thank you feminism, and feminists for giving women CHOICE. Thank you for making it clear to the world that I can do as I please. If that means I want to choose to stay home with my children, or go and build a career elsewhere, let it be known THE CHOICE IS MINE. Mine alone.
Please note, as many people may think, equal does not mean 'same'. Women do not have to be the SAME as men. We are different and that is OK. We're just not 'lesser'.
I remember once in school, we were talking about feminist theory. We were challenged to think of a major piece of literature, or film, that did not have a woman being either saved by a man in some way, or married/encoupled in the end. I wonder if you can?
Some interesting feminism links:
Catholic Feminist's Story
Feminist Mormon Housewives
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for more links!