Last week I added this shirt to my Amazon wish list in hopes that my husband might purchase it for my birthday.
I love this shirt because it challenges people’s stereotypes of feminists.
I am a Christian. I am in a heterosexual marriage. I am a mother. I am the full-time caregiver for my son.
And I am a feminist.
Feminism gets a bad rap in conservative culture where it is instantly equated with angry mobs of women and extreme liberal views (here’s a recent example). While there may be some people who fit those stereotypes and call themselves feminists, that is certainly not the norm.
So what does it mean to be a feminist?
There are feminists who are “pro-life” and others who are “pro-choice”. Some feminists are complementarians and others are egalitarians. Feminists can be stay-at-home parents, work full time or have a combination of those two. Some feminists (including many of the first feminists) are deeply religious and others have no religious practices at all. Men are feminists as well as women.
What all these people, these feminists, have in common is that they don’t believe that gender should limit someone’s rights or opportunities. I believe that most feminists would say that they wished there wasn’t a need for feminism. Like me, I think most people wish that gender didn’t restrict people. But the truth is that we live in a world that is strongly biased against women.
- Girls are shot and abducted all because they want an education.
- In our own country, not so long ago, women were sent to jail in the fight to earn the right to vote.
- Women’s bodies are crudely mutilated in an attempt to keep them “pure”
- Women had to work to be accepted into the military and work even harder to be accepted at the military academies
- Media objectifies women at every turn, including turning their weight into a headline.
- “113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically “missing”… as a result of gender-based violence or neglect.”
And that is just the beginning.
In westernized countries we take many rights for granted without acknowledging that early feminists fought for those rights. And around the world, many women still lack these rights and opportunities.
I’ve heard people say that while they are supportive of men and women having equal rights, they still don’t want to call themselves a feminist. They don’t want to be associated with stereotypes that don’t represent their views. I understand that.
For awhile I didn’t want to be called a Christian. It seemed like each day I was hearing new examples of Christians being bigots. There are Christians who picket at the funerals of soldiers, cheering and mocking at someone’s loss. Other Christians burn the holy books of other religions or burn Bibles when they weren’t the “right kind”. Some Christian organizations have a long history of being racism and homophobia. And I was horrified at being associated with any of that.
But, ultimately, I decided that not using the word “Christian” to describe myself wasn’t the answer. There will always be people who identify as Christians with whom I disagree, even if the differences are more subtle than the things I mentioned above.
Similarly, I can be a feminist and disagree with other feminists. Because being a feminist doesn’t define all of my political beliefs or my religion. Being a feminist means that I believe girls should be given the same opportunities as boys.
And so I’ll proudly wear that shirt because THIS is what a feminist looks like!