Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Feminism is a dirty word

As I was admiring my lovely daughter's face this afternoon as I nursed her to sleep, I couldn't help recall a moment from college that has always stuck with me. It was one of those moments where you can't elaborate on what you mean, you can't make someone see your point of view because you get flustered and want to appear "nice" and not blow up in utter disbelief and frustration at your roommates, lest your outburst makes the remaining semester of living with them unbearable (it wouldn't have been, we loved each other dearly, but you know what I mean).

We were sitting around, just chatting, and one of them said: "I don't need feminism. It's pointless. Women have enough rights already. I don't want anymore."

Cue me: *sharp intake of breath*

At the time, I was in the depths of WomanStats depression, working nights as a manager at the domestic violence shelter, spending 48 hours a month on call as a rape crisis counselor. All of the pressure and stress and sadness I felt on a daily basis, as I learned about rape and intimate partner violence and female genital mutilation and forced marriages and honor killings and sati and widow cleansing and forced abortions and female infanticide, came crashing down on my chest when she said this.

And it's not just the big, life-changing violence that is happening worldwide or in my own neighborhood. It's misogyny on Facebook. It's the fact I will always make less than my male colleagues, for doing the same work. It's the fact that because I'm a mother, I know there is the inherent bias that I'm not up to par. It is the societally-induced guilt of leaving my children, even if they are with their dad. It's going to Church and seeing only men on the stand.

Because although we have more freedoms than our foremothers (god bless our suffragette sisters and Margaret Sanger!), equality is far from being realized, and we simply don't have "enough" rights yet.

Because ALL women, EVERYWHERE, deserve the right:

- to feel safe in their own homes
- to go jogging at night and not feel threatened
- to affordable contraception
- to equal pay
- to freedom in birth
- to pursue their studies
- to choose who they marry
- to autonomy over their bodies
- to not be left in poverty post-divorce
- etc...

And until then, yes, I will be angry about it. I will not sit idly by as my daughter grows up in a world that tells her she is less than her brother.

* And if you're already a feminist, or aspire to be one, you can now laugh at this tumblr. 


  1. I know those moments. One evening we were playing Apples to Apples with some friends and family. One girl selected the card "Feminists" under the heading "Aggravating." I may have just laughed it off, but it bothered me that her husband played that card and that she chose it. One good thing came out of it, it opened up a great discussion between Jon and me (while we were still dating) about feminism and how it's misunderstood and under-appreciated by many Mormon women. But still. I wish I'd had the right words to say the girl and her husband. Alas.

  2. Such a great post. I love to hear your voice.

  3. People don't know what the word means.
    I hope.
    God is a feminist.

  4. I know those moments all too well. I agree with you one hundred percent.

  5. @Cait. I loved this post, and I agree with you 100%. I have so many nice Mormon female friends whom I love to death, but who post all kinds of misogynist memes on Facebook. Sometimes I feel like I'm a lone voice shouting into the void. Thanks for adding to the sum of sanity in the world.

    @Milla: Goddess is a feminist too.

  6. I agree with what you're saying but I don't see men on the stand at church being male chovanistic. We have different roles in the church and I agree....God us a feminist. that said, I only think feminism is a "dirty word" sometimes because wackos ruin it for everyone else....people who practically don't even want to see any separation between male and female societal roles. We are different. We have different strengths and weaknesses. But I agree there is still a long way to go for women to really feel equal in society. Especially in other countries. My only consolation is that in the end, justice will win and the meek will inherit the Earth.