I am a feminist. In this day and age, feminism is treated as a joke, an aberration, a word that conjures up the image of emasculating, bra-burning angry women who clamor for a world without men. Feminist is used as an insult meant to brand a woman as being angry or hateful. But militancy is not the soul of feminism. Feminism is the conviction that women should be judged based on their accomplishments rather than their gender. People should be allowed to explore and develop their own unique talents and when they do develop these talents, they should be rewarded in an egalitarian manner that has no bearing on gender.
I am not anti-marriage or anti-family. I am not anti-man. I have no objection to a woman staying at home to raise her children, just as I have no objection to a woman pursuing a career or forsaking marriage altogether, as long as these choices are independent of gender constraints. I believe, in the deepest sense of the word, that people should be given the right to shape their own destiny and that gender should not be an obstacle to achieving dreams. This belief defines who I am as a person.
With the recent cuts to Planned Parenthood, the fights over healthcare coverage of contraceptives, the attempts to restrict abortion rights, and the recent comment by Rep. Todd Akin that belittled the suffering of rape victims everywhere, I am feeling besieged. I am watching as my beloved country slides backwards in terms of human rights and equality. My body is not a political battlefield; my convictions should not be a source of ridicule or derision.
As a woman, my opinions are influenced by my own personal experiences; my experience is that of a woman’s. But equality is a two-way street; I do not believe that men should be defined by their gender any more than women should. My primary interest is in the unique talents of an individual, irrespective of whether these traits are in accordance with gender stereotypes or not. Male, female, straight, gay, young, old, and everything in between - we all share a common bond of humanity that transcends labels.
The time has come to redefine what feminism means to our society at large. And so, at this point in time, I would like to open this discussion to all of the wonderful people that have taken the time to read this post. What does feminism - and equality - mean to you?