Let me start by telling you what feminism is not. It is not hating men. It is not telling women who enjoy being housewives and stay at home moms that they are worthless. So what is feminism? According to Merriam Webster, it is:
the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities
After many years of women not getting to choose whether they pursue a career or stay home and take care of the house and children, some women are upset when they see a woman choosing that life. I prefer to celebrate the fact that anyone gets that choice. I enjoy staying at home with my son (most days). I enjoy the fact that I’m not required to. I could wake up tomorrow and start applying for jobs and leave him with a public school, daycare, etc… if that is what will work best for all of us. Why do I have that choice? Because women before me stood up and said, “We deserve the same choices men get! We are people too!”
Education? Yes! I had the privilege to learn to read and write and choose higher education. As little as 80 years ago, women going to college was controversial. Today’s American women don’t have to fight to go to college based on their gender. We can base that decision on the same criteria as men do – ability and money. If you are female and can read this, you have earlier feminists to thank for that skill. As few as 150 years ago, girls didn’t regularly learn to read. They had to hope that the classes weren’t too full of boys in order to obtain a seat in school. And then they had to hope that their fathers deemed their academic education worth their time away from housekeeping and demonstrating what wonderful wives they would make.
I got to choose my husband. If ever I deem him not right for me, I have the option to divorce him without everyone wondering what I did wrong. In many places, we still arrange marriages and even expect women to stay in abusive relationships because marriage trumps spinsterhood. In many places, men are still considered superior to women. Women are treated as slaves and used for baby making with little to no thought of their dreams and desires. Because of feminism, I wasn’t forced into my marriage. I truly appreciate that.
I can vote! Ok, I’m pretty jaded by the current political system. But at least I can go to a voting booth and choose the options that make sense to me without worrying about being barred from entry or having to vote the same way as my husband. American women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920.
Why do we ask pregnant women what they plan to do about work but often assume that the child’s father will continue to work? My husband was a stay at home dad for the first few months of Alex’s life and I worked outside of the home because it made more sense at the time. But people asked me what the plan was. I see this over and over again as other women become pregnant. Can we change the question? Maybe ask, “Are you folks looking for daycare? I have a recommendation.” Or maybe, “Is one of you staying home with the baby? I have some fun things to do.” Take the gender based assumptions out of your line of questioning.
And what about single mothers? Thanks to feminism, it’s okay to be a single mother. Some mothers are single by choice, some by circumstance, but single mothers are no longer hidden away and forced to put their babies up for adoption if they wish to raise their children themselves.
Having children is a choice. I enjoy that! I can go to my doctor to get on birth control, or require my husband to use a condom, or choose to abstain from sex if I don’t want another baby. Some women don’t have the choice of telling their husbands “no.” They don’t have access to birth control. If I want a large family, I can choose that as well. It’s my body! Thank you, feminists, for allowing me to choose how to use it.
In conclusion, I enjoy having choices. I enjoy what freedoms and strides towards equality that women have made in America. This isn’t exactly an exhaustive list, but it hits some major points. Are we 100% equal? Sadly, no. But we have far more than some of our sisters in other parts of the world. I do believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. So, I am a proud feminist.