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Why I am a Feminist

The roots of my feminism run deep.   I was a feminist long before I heard the word or even realized that “feminism” was what I was feeling. As a child, I reacted strongly and viscerally to the idea that women were good enough to teach a child everything they needed to know in life except for religious doctrine: you had to be a male to do that.  An untested boy was the preferred leader for a congregational meeting over a woman with fifty years in the church.

I thought that was one of the stupidest things I’d ever heard in my young life, and it was the foundation for my blossoming feminism.

There were other aspects of our religious life that reinforced my sense of gender-based injustice in the system.  They may seem like little things, but sometimes it is the little things that catch our attention.  As a young woman, I watched my mother fight a battle to allow for women to wear dressy pants to church instead of the requisite dress and panty hose. The way some of the men in the congregation reacted, you would have thought she wanted to attend naked.

As a teen, it was drummed into my head by the young minister that I was responsible for the temptations that my attire might create in a male.  I pointed out to him I could wear a potato sack and someone might find that sexy, and that I was not responsible for how other people respond to me or my clothing.  I also asked why boys weren’t held responsible for any lust their tight jeans or well-styled clothing might incite in young women.  He didn’t really have an answer for that.

But it wasn’t just the seventh century ideas held by the old men at church.  It was the things said and done to women fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, at supporters of Roe v. Wade, and at every woman who ever walked by a construction sight or outdoor ball game.  As I got older, I saw other examples of systemic injustice that continually fed my feminism.  I am a feminist because I saw too many women in my life beaten, raped, or otherwise abused by men; because women trying their best to raise their children without a man in the house are called “sluts” and “whores”; and because we have elected representatives do things like compare women wanting to abort a dead fetus to livestock.

When half of the global population is treated as “less than” the other half, something is wrong.  And that something has been wrong for a very, very long time.  Women and girls are not property to be sold for hard labor or sex, yet this still happens far too often. Rape victims still have their attire or past sexual history brought into testimony.  It wasn’t until 2009 that a law was signed requiring equal pay for equal work. The fact that websites like this are needed for women to come together in voicing the sexism they face on a daily basis is why I am a feminist.  Women’s magazines seem to have one rape prevention article per issue, but men’s magazines don’t have articles about how to not be a rapist.  Yet, both men’s and women’s magazines have fashion ads that imply rape to sell high-end jeans. When male Secret Service agents violate their code of conduct, rather than suggest that the “old boys club” clean up their act Congresswomen suggest that this would not have happened if more women were in the trenches (to do what – act as mommy to a bunch of grown men who should already know better?).

While women comprise 51% of the population in this country, we still only hold 16.8% of the seats in Congress.  The issues women face are the issues that all people who are disenfranchised (or marginally enfranchised) face, and they will never be dealt with until adequate representation exists.  Being a feminist is about justice for everyone.  It is about supporting the rights of all people to be treated the same under the law, male, female, and third-gendered alike.

Why am I a feminist?  Because when I see the systemic gender-based violence and injustice around the world, I cannot be anything else.  A better question would be, “Why aren’t you a feminist?”

  1. August 12, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about >Why I am a Feminist | The Donut Shop Conversations <Loved it!

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