The media has recently focused a lot on different types of feminists, from man-hating extremists to slut-walking exhibitionists. While it’s not my place (at least, not on social media) to pass judgment on those stereotypes or those who identify with them, there’s definitely a lot of attention that the average feminist is not getting. You might identify as a feminist and not even know it, so here’s six ideas that if you’ve ever had them, qualify you to take on the illustrious moniker of “feminist.”
1. You believe that gender is not an explanation nor an excuse.
No one should feel comfortable using gender as an explanation for or excuse to be a subpar human being. Being told one is underperforming because they’re menstruating or pregnant is just as inappropriate as using either of those things as excuses for poor behavior or actions in lieu of a good apology.
Gender is not a good enough reason not to (not) hire me for a job I’m qualified for in every way. Gender is not a good enough reason for society to decide how anyone should dress, speak, act, or communicate. The difference between acting “bossy” and “authoritative” is not decided by genitalia. Each personality is completely different and can identify anywhere on the spectrum from 100% feminine to 100% masculine.
2. Above all, you crave equality.
Feminism ≠ man-hating. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you don’t fully support paid paternity leave as much as paid maternity leave. It doesn’t mean you don’t recognize and fight against stereotypes in the workplace that make it hard for men to find or feel comfortable with working as nurses, teachers, secretaries, or in bars. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you don’t recognize that every single person is different as well as equal.
You don’t think it’s right that women who are victims of sexism are called “bitchy” and ignored. You don’t think it’s right that men are encouraged to sow their wild oats, but women are shamed for any demonstrations of sexuality. You don’t think it’s right that women are stereotyped as bad drivers who mismanage finances and get overwhelmed at the slightest bit of pressure. You want better for the women of your world, for your daughter, sisters, mothers, friends, lovers, and all the women in your world. You want to feel like the right to equality and respect isn’t dependent on gender, just as it shouldn’t be with any other characteristic.
3. Your body, your rules.
You know that each body is unique. Each has its quirks, failures, strengths, and finer points. Only you experienced the medical procedures, accidents, scrapes and bruises, piercings, tattoos, haircuts, weird mood swings, puberty, and more that it has endured. You are the one who had braces for five5 years, who had a challengingly high sex drive, who was subjected to the embarrassment of morning wood, who couldn’t use tampons (even though everyone said you were wrong) because of the shape of your vagina. Only you.
So why should anyone be telling anyone what they can or cannot do with their body? Why can you not decide whether or not you or your loved ones can have abortions, donate eggs, or anything else? You know better.
4. You are not a victim.
You have the right to fight back, to fight against injustice and against the stereotypes that take away from quality of life. Society, with the help of both men and women, has victimized women for thousands of years. Sexism is something we are all responsible for, therefore, we should all empower ourselves to fight against it.
You will not play the blame game when it comes to your rights as a woman and as a human being. You are no longer going to blame ‘men’ or rapists or abusers or even yourself for sexism you experience in society. You are going to hold everyone responsible to do better, to be better, and am not going to sit back, feeling sorry for yourself. Feminism is about enacting change, not pitying oneself for a history of mistreatment.
5. You recognize that you are a flawed person, just like everyone else.
You are many more things besides a feminist. There are lots of things that you identify as, and together, that conglomeration of identities forms a unique individual. You don’t represent all of feminists, no one person does. People make mistakes and you’re not about to jump down everyone’s throats accusing them of sexism or racism or what-have-you. Although you won’t ignore blatant insults and violence, you’re not going to look to pick a fight. You want to allow people to make mistakes, to word things badly, to not get their point across successfully and hope that they do the same for you.
6. You know that feminism is not a club.
Feminism is not a club that only abused women can join. Men can be feminists, supporting the rights of the women in their lives — their mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, friends, whoever. Women don’t have to feel like they can only be feminists if they’ve experience blatant workplace discrimination, been abused, or been raped.
Anyone and everyone should and can be feminist, supporting gender equality! Never let anyone tell you otherwise.