I am a feminist.
Why? Because I support women being completely equal to men in all aspects of life.
I have believed this all of my life, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I would actually call myself a feminist. I would tell you for sure that I believed women and men should be equal, but the term "feminist" had (and still does, to some extent) such negative connotations:
Feminists want women to be greater than men.
Feminists hate men.
Feminism is redundant because women already have the same rights and privileges as men.
None of this is true, of course. There are some women who think women should be greater than men or who hate men. By definition, they are not feminists. People who think women already have the same rights and privileges as men forget that it's easier for a man to get a prescription for Viagra than it is for a woman to get a prescription for contraception, even though contraception has been around longer than Viagra. Or forget that a woman still only earns about 80 cents for the same work as a man who makes $1 for that work.
Feminists come in all genders, races, belief systems, occupations, levels of education, etc.
I've been a Christian since I was sixteen. Jesus stands up for women. He loves the women that mortal men look down on, He doesn't condemn the women that mortal men would condemn, and women are as much a part of His ministry as men. I have never, ever believed that Jesus thinks women are lesser beings than men, and if the Savior thinks that women and men are equal, then shouldn't we all think the same thing?
But when I was younger, I was more conservative than I am now, and what was--and is--expected of conservative Christian women is to support patriarchy.
Because the Bible says that women shouldn't be in positions of leadership in the church.
Because the Bible says that women should submit to men, especially their husbands.
Because the Bible says that women are unclean once a month or after childbirth.
Because a woman was created from a man's rib bone.
But people forget about Deborah, who was one of the Judges of Ancient Israel. Or Rahab, a prostitute, who protected two of Joshua's spies as they enterd Canaan. Or Esther, who saved the Israelites from bloodthirsty Haman because she was married to (and held influence with) King Xerxes. Or Junia, (Romans 16:7) who was an apostle. Or the four unmarried daughters of Phillip who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9). Or Euodia, Syntyche, and Phoebe (Phil. 4:2-3; Romans 16:1-2) who were ministers in the Churches in Phillipi and Cenchrea. Or Priscilla, who along with her husband Aquila, were church leaders in Ephesus and taught Apollos the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).
People forget that when Paul says that women should submit to their husbands, he gives an even stronger command to men: Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it (Eph. 5:25) In other words, men, if you want a wife to submit to you, you have to be willing to sacrifice and die for her.
So with all of these things, why is it so difficult for some people to understand that women are equal to men?
Do they think women are weak? Why? Is it because our muscles are smaller, our bone structure is generally smaller, we bleed once a month, and carry the next generation in our wombs?
Those things don't make us weaker than men. They make us strong. We can exercise and weight lift to build up our muscles and bones. Our bodies are created to prepare for pregnancy and nurture life. In those times when we are not pregnant, we bleed and cramp and are sometimes miserable. When we are pregnant and in labor we are sick from hormones and sore from a growing child and then in pain as we wait to welcome that child into the world.
And if we choose to not ever become pregnant (which is a totally valid choice for women, by the way, so quit asking when she's going to have a kid), we still get to bleed and cramp once a month until we're over the age of 40.
Do they think women are just lesser than men? We can do science (Marie Curie, Shirley Ann Jackson, Mae Carol Jemison), literature (J.K. Rowling, Louise Fitzhugh, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan), and math (Hypatia, Marjorie Lee Browne, Raman Parimala) just as well as any man.
Maybe it's because women just aren't as good as men, that anything feminine is lesser, weaker, ickier, and worse than anything that is masculine. Think about it: when was the last time you used a gendered insult like, "bitch," "douchebag," "cunt," "pussy," or "whore" when what you really meant was "asshole," "weak," or "promiscuous?"
When was the last time you heard someone put down a man because he was displaying typically-feminine traits?
When was the last time you heard someone trash talk a transgender woman?
Or a fat woman? Or a skinny woman?
Women, you're not weak. You deserve the same right and privileges that men have.
Men, stand up for us. We're your mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, aunts, nieces, cousins, and friends. We're not just placeholders and the people who do the housework. We deserve to be treated as equals because we do equal (and sometimes more) work and we do it just as well as you do.
This is Women's History Month, and today, March 8, is International Women's Day. Stand up for equality, and be the best and most badass feminist you can be.