What Being a Feminist Means to Me!
Hi Everyone! This is a long post, so I hope you'll grab another cup of coffee and read! Disclaimer: This post is MY opinion.
Recently, I was having dinner with a group of people, including a young college girl. She shocked me by making a flippant comment about being a feminist. Call me naive, but I thought that most younger women were feminists. To me, being a feminist is a knowledge that you have the freedom to choose...but before that, to even know that you have a choice. It took me many years to realize that I could rise above the way of thinking that had dominated my life for so many years. The way of thinking that stopped me from finishing college, that caused me to get married when I was 19, that caused me to quickly get married again and, that left me feeling that I was stuck and financially dependent because of my choices. Financial freedom isn't just about having the money to pay for the necessary things in life (and sometimes more), it can also be a freedom of the mind allowing you to live the life that you choose. Women have historically made less money than men for doing the same job and have in the past and maybe still are limited as to the jobs that they are hired to do. According to the National Women's Law Center, "Women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger." They have been and still are, the primary caregivers to their children as well as having the responsibility for taking care of the home. In addition, the responsibility of taking care of aging parents also usually falls on women. I think that some very progressive couples are starting to show that sharing the responsibilities of the family is possible, but it is still, unfortunately, not the norm.
I will agree that I made the choice to be in every situation, however, the point I'm making is that there is a different way of thinking by most younger women, because society has become open to the idea that women can be, do, and have anything they want and are willing to go after. Younger women benefit from the collective societal ways of thinking whether they realize it or not, just as I was affected by the collective way of thinking when I was growing up. I'm saddened to know that there are women (especially very young women) who don't understand that the lives they are able to live now and the opportunities that they are afforded, were fought for by strong women in previous generations. Can you believe that just 55 years ago, in 1963 when I was born, women had only been able to vote for 43 years. That means that when my grandmothers were 18, they legally could not vote.
I decided to look up the definition of feminism, because I started writing this purely based on my emotions. Here is the definition from Marion Webster:
the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Existentialism (a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.)
In order for our society to change we have to begin to change the circumstances for women in all cultures because we have become a global world, we should care simply because we are human. We are all one and when someone hurts, everyone ultimately hurts. It's going to have to be the priority going forward.
I believe in the idea of equal partnership. I believe in the idea that we should be on the same team, that women and men are more alike than different. We should all be working for the best society possible and in order for that to happen, we all have to be playing by the same rules. We all want, in the end, the same basic things and we ALL feel pain when we are hurt. That is one of the most profound things we share as human beings. Hurt people hurt people and there is a great deal of hurt in this world. People hurt people as a result of their own inner strife and pain. Now that we have begun in "mainstream thinking" to move past the antiquated societal beliefs that women are not equal to men, we must continue to make sure that the care and ensured equality of women and, as a result, children, is reflected in our laws.
I might be going down a treacherous path here, but I'm only sharing what I've learned and what really shocked me when I started to do research on this post (a simple google search is mind boggling), were the things I read about the white supremacy movement when it comes to women. There seems to be an organized plan and there are surprisingly women on board. Why would women (or anyone) agree to that in the first place??? It's an extreme view and one of the best reasons to support feminism. There is soooo much extreme thought out there and this blog post was originally going to just be my opinion on how the women that came before us had worked so hard to get us to where we are today. What I quickly realized after doing more research than I had intended is that we have come a long way, but we still have so far to go!
It seems that we are in a very contradictory time with the combination of the "Me too" movement and the current state of rolling back so much of the progress that has been made in social reform over the past years. (This is my personal opinion).
I am so grateful that my daughters live in a time where they have the opportunity to do anything they want to do. They are educated and smart (two different things) because they realize the choices they make in their lives will affect their futures. Realizing that you have a choice is half the battle.
It is my hope that we can come together as a country and most especially as women for the good of everyone. We all must support one another and women must support each other!
I was recently at a blogger conference in NYC and Gloria Steinem was the keynote speaker. As usual, I was one of the oldest women there and completely honored to be in the presence of such a legend. I listened intently as she spoke and I made a few comments after to a few of the other girls there, only to realize they had no idea who she even was! Kudos to the organizers of this blogger conference for introducing her to a younger generation. We all pave the way for the generations to come and the responsibility for making the world a better place is up to all of us!
I would love to know your thoughts on this post! There are so many things running through my mind these days! Please leave me a kind considerate comment if you would like! Thanks for reading!