Growing up, I knew two things about feminism: 1. That Kat from “10 Things I Hate About You” is a feminist, and she’s a badass, and I spent much of my teenage years wanting to be like her. 2. Feminists like to burn their bras. Considering I hate bras, I am also OK with this. So, obviously, I’m a feminist.
I mean, who runs the world? GIRLS!
But then there’s the reality outside of my brain — my brain that really doesn’t fully understand what feminism actually is. Sure, sure, I get that it’s equal rights for women, but that means different things to different people, and the extent people, women, go to for the sake of feminism — or defending “feminism,” rather — can be a bit of a turn off.
Perhaps the definition of how you apply feminism to your life is a culture thing. Buzzfeed’s list about Muslim feminists gave me a poignant picture about just how much the definition of feminism changes from woman to woman, culture to culture.
It’s a powerful concept, that feminism, that drives men and women to dangerous, deathly levels at times, but that core feminism — the one that drives one of the founders of feminism to kill herself – well, I’m not sure that’s what your average American thinks of feminism.
It has been my impression that “feminism” to the average American woman is just an excuse to be angry and hate men or other women that try to stick women into traditional gender roles. My impression is that feminism to the average American is not about fighting for women’s education or breaking the glass ceiling or making more than 77 cents for every dollar men make. Feminism as defined by the culture that I’ve lived in is just bitching rather than fighting.
Here’s what feminism should be: Having the confidence in who you are as a woman to go after what you want and helping other women do the same.
You define your success. Just know, like with any adventure, you are going to struggle. Struggling is not a negative here, but a way for you to put foot to pavement and chase after what you want.
Did you think the world would be easy? Did you think you could just throw around a few stats and men and women would be like, “Oh, you’re so right! We should give you 23 more cents!”?
Do the best job you absolutely can until you are satisfied with your work and then help other women reach THEIR goals (not necessarily your goals) — that is feminism. Stop simply talking about it, get up off your ass from behind your keyboard (possibly applies to me here …) and do something.
In storytelling, we have a saying: Show, don’t tell. It’s a biblical principal. That means living your life with actions that show your dreams, your passions, your ambitions.
Don’t just take to social media to rant about how men are repressing women — volunteer in a women’s shelter to help them get on their feet; donate money to She’s the First; better yet, do not say a negative word about another woman. As you’ve seen in this series, it’s hard enough that the world favors men, the last thing we need is for women to consistently hate on each other.
Feminism is a way for women to become the strongest (or meekest, as every woman should be her own person and fulfill her own dream) women they want to be. Yes, it’s tricky, as society may not look kindly on you, but there is nothing in this world that is more satisfying than reaching a goal.
You’re a feminist? Great! Show me, don’t tell me.