When I was younger, I had blindly believed a few stereotypes/misconceptions about feminists: “Feminists are lesbians.”
“Feminists don’t shave.”
“Feminists never wear bras.”
I’m not a lesbian. I can’t go more than a few days without feeling compelled to shave. And I kind of have to wear a bra. So I can’t be a feminist!
I fully admit, I was wrong.
I came to the realization as I got older and studied more feminist literature that feminists do not want to be men or be better than men. Many people that believe feminists are hairy, bra-burning lesbians believe this because they think feminists are trying to be men and be better than men. The definition of feminism, according to bell hooks, however, states “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (Feminist Politics). hooks also talks about the misconceptions of feminism in “Feminist Politics.”
She says that many of our misconceptions about feminism is a result from the “patriarchal mass media.” The media focuses on issues such as “freedom to have abortions, to be lesbians, to challenge rape and domestic violence.” They also portray the idea of gender equality in the workplace. But there is more to feminist politics than just these.
What many people do not know is many women were excluded from participating in feminist marches at one time. Marches were limited to rich, white, straight feminists. According to her book, “Feminism is For Everybody,” hooks explains that lesbian women were told “It was not their time.” Black women were told “It was not their time.” Even recently, pro-life women were excluded from Women’s Marches.
I have come to learn that feminists want equality for ALL.
It made me angry when I realized we primarily read works by rich white men in school. We study male artists such as Michelangelo and Da Vinci. But what about Sofonisba Anguissola and Mary Cassatt? I bet you probably never heard of them. We ready poetry by John Keats and Lord Byron, but what about the works of Letitia Elizabeth Landon and Felicia Hemans? You probably never heard of them either.
Feminism, I have come to understand for myself, is a desire for equality. Equality in education, from what is being learned in the classroom to the classroom itself. Equality in the workplace, whether it be at a fast-food company or a big law office. Equality everywhere for everybody.
I am a Christian, and I believe in a God who loves everyone. Equally. Jesus was kind to everyone and treated everybody equally. While some do not think feminism and Christianity are even remotely connected, I think Jesus is a perfect example of a feminist.
I call myself a growing feminist because I am still learning about what it means to be a feminist. And while I don’t think there is one clearcut definition, I think it boils down to one word: Equality.
And that is why I proudly identify as a feminist.