Until very recently, I had never actually identified as a feminist. I’m a female, yes, but I’ve always shied away from even the topic of feminism, let alone the label of “feminist.” To be honest, I never really gave a thought to it. But also until very recently, I admit that I completely misunderstood what feminism even is.
I hate to admit it, but I was one of those people who had the skewed perception that feminism was some sort of extreme pro-woman anti-man movement. I thought that feminists were radical women who were always forcing their beliefs upon others and preaching crazy ideas. My lack of awareness was most likely due to my perhaps skewed perception of reality.
I was lucky in many ways growing up – but potentially also somewhat oblivious to my luck. My mom and dad raised me to be strong and independent, and to never doubt my dreams or goals. They raised me to accept everyone, to the point in which this acceptance was simply second nature. It never involved extra thought. Although I did not understand it at the time, I can now see that I was raised by two feminist parents – two parents who taught me to respect others, and to also respect myself. I never felt unsupported, which may have been why I never realized the necessity of the feminist movement. I never understood what feminism was.
Just recently, I learned that my own uneducated definition of feminism was completely wrong. I was not even in the ballpark. And it was thanks to this election that my horizons were broadened and my views were expanded.
Hillary Clinton, along with her supporters, opened my eyes to the idea of feminism as a movement of equality, compassion, and strength, rather than as a movement of exclusion of simply female power.
I learned that true feminism advocates for all genders, not just females. True feminism does not divide people based on gender or gender identification. Instead, it breaks down walls and barriers, and allows people to be whoever they would like to be and whoever they are. Feminism does not discriminate or put people down based on their bodies or their minds.
Feminism expands beyond the world of gender – it advocates equality for everyone.
Feminism breaks down stereotypes and judgments based on skin color, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation. Feminism teaches little girls and little boys that it is okay for them to believe in themselves, that it is valuable to have goals and morals. Feminism teaches adolescents that it’s okay to be different. Different is welcome here. In whole, feminism supports strong, confident people of all gender, who respect their bodies and feel comfortable in their own skin. Feminists are encouragers, supporting others to follow their hearts and pursue whatever it is that sparks their minds.
In an interview with Lena Dunham, Hillary stated:
“I’m always a little bit puzzled when any woman of whatever age, but particularly a young woman, says something like, ‘Well, I believe in equal rights but I’m not a feminist.’ Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights. I’m hoping that people will not be afraid to say, that doesn’t mean you hate men, it doesn’t you want to separate out the world, so you’re not a part of ordinary life—that’s not what it means at all! It just means that we believe that women have the same rights as men.”
Hillary Clinton taught me that feminism is about continuing to persevere, even in the face of great disappointment. She taught me that we have to continue to pursue our dreams even in the face of failures or letdowns. We have to keep trying and keep loving each other. Hillary’s words in her concession speech speak for themselves:
“I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”
Thanks to Hillary Clinton, I now understand that feminism is not simply a movement for women’s rights – it’s a movement for the rights of everyone.
And now, more than ever, we need this movement in the world. Though Hillary may have lost the election, she has won the fight for human rights. She has paved the way for people of all genders to step up and influence the world. I will raise my children as feminists in the hopes that they will have the confidence to love and respect both themselves and others, and in the hopes that they will know that they can influence the world. Thank you Hillary Clinton, for showing us that anyone can succeed in spreading a message, and anyone can follow their dreams.