A few weeks ago I began asking some women around me if they thought of themselves as a feminist. I took it a step further and asked if they did, why and if they did not, why not. I asked friends of varying backgrounds, different sides of the political aisle, and even those with no idea what the aisle even means. I asked some women who are younger than me, some who are the same age as me, and some who are older than me. I asked women who are moms of kids, women who are moms of pugs, and women who can’t keep a fake plant in one piece. I asked friends from down south in Arkansas, here in North Carolina, from Boston and all the way out in Los Angeles.
My point is, I asked a lot of women, I wanted all the perspectives.
Merriam-Webster defines feminism as the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; often times viewed as an organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. The first known usage of the word was a few years ago, back in 1895. Folks that was the same year words like “cowboy boot,” and “coat hanger” came about. Point being, it’s been around a long time.
You might be wondering why I’m blogging today on feminism, and the answer is simple actually: the ideology of feminism is something I’ve struggled with for a few years and I felt like now is as good a time as any to get acquainted with what I believe and what role I can play in today’s society.
There have been several “waves” of feminism starting back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the second wave coming in the 60’s and 70’s, followed by this third wave that began in the 90’s and is still rolling along today. Each wave has been marked by differing circumstances and situations.
The first wave that occurred between the 1830’s and the early 1900’s was centered around the desire of women to bring about changes to the political agenda around issues like sexual, reproductive and economic matters. The idea that was born was that women could contribute as much, if not more, than men. And I have to say, that makes a lot of sense when you stop and think about the topics discussed were occurring in the bodies of women.
The second wave came about during the 1960’s through the 1980’s. This second wave was portrayed with the strong graphic of Rosie the Riveter. This wave was focused on the workplace, and again sexuality, family and reproductive rights. A lot of folks write off this time period to the “plight of middle class white women’s problems.” That is an unfortunate misconception because during this time period women were joining movements for all equality like: Black Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam, Chicano Rights, Asian-American Civil Rights, Gay and Lesbian Movement and so many more. It was during this movement that the infamous, “No More Miss America!” protest took place in 1969. This protest consisted of 400 feminists who tossed feminine products, pots, false eyelashes, mops and other symbolic items along the Atlantic City Boardwalk in protest to the national pageant. These items were thrown into what was called a “Freedom Trash Can,” similarly to what had been done with the “draft card burn.” This march was a protest against what they saw as “American society’s normative beauty expectations.” Thus the term “bra burning” began.
The third wave which our nation appears to still be riding today has become as varied as the women who adhere to the ideology; with ego-cultural feminists, the radicals, the liberal/reforms, the electoral, academic, eco-feminists and the list goes on and on. The wave that rolls today is intended to focus on ending violence against women in our nation, and abroad. January 21, 2017, a march was held on Washington D.C. to advocate for legislation and policies regarding human rights and other issues focused on women’s rights. This demonstration was held in protest, as well, to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
Many could argue that President Trump is the “unlikely force” behind the revival of the women’s movement. Politically there are conservatives, even those with jobs in the Oval Office, who argue that this women’s movement is “pro-abortion and anti-male,” and that my friends hits the nail on the head of why I have always struggled with feminism.
I have no issue getting behind equality for all, in fact, I’m totally on board for that. I have been blessed to be raised by a mother who has worked her tail off putting herself through college and graduate school to become a licensed social worker and now a CEO of a mental health facility. I’ve seen the amazing change you can bring about by having women in executive positions. I’ve been afforded a great education my entire life in a private school, private college and now two masters programs. My life has been blessed, undoubtedly. My point is not to brag on that, though I am incredibly grateful to God and my parents, but rather to say, I was raised to believe I can and should do everything my heart desires; and that the color of my skin, the fact that I wear a bra, the fact that I am a Christian, or that I am from the south, should never stop me from pursuing everything I want in life.
When Jimmy Stewart played Mike Connor in “Philadelphia Story” he said,
“There’s a magnificence in you Tracy, a magnificence that comes out of your eyes, that’s in your voice, in the way you stand there, in the way you walk. You’re lit from within, bright, bright, bright…. ”
and with those words, the world was reminded that chivalry is not dead. I don’t know if it was growing up in the south, but the idea of chivalry is ingrained in my mind. The idea of a man with courage, honor, courtesy, justice and readiness to help the weak.
I know right now some of you reading are rolling your eyes, but it gets worse…I love for my husband to open doors for me, and I adore that he is already teaching our son to open doors for ladies and letting them walk in first. Maybe it’s the southern part of me, but I just love it. I love “yes ma’am” and “no sir.” I love when men stand from their chairs when a woman sits down, or walks in a room. I’m not hardcore about it, but I love it nonetheless.
And in the same breath, I think America is ready for a female President. Perhaps not the most recent candidate, but there’s one out there. I can think of a few off the top of my head who I think would be phenomenal. I’d burn my bra in a barrel to have Condoleezza Rice run, just saying.
I mentioned earlier that I asked my friends their stance on feminism. I found that it was far easier for my friends who do consider themselves feminist to explain why, than my friends who are not to explain why not. The ones who are, shared similar sentiments with each other: equal rights and opportunities. One thing that stuck out to me was their shock that people still view feminism so negatively, that the “archaic idea” that it’s about bra burning or just a two topic ideology, anti-abortion and anti-men. One friend said she viewed her feminism as a journey to help remove the obstacles in place for women to live the way they want to live.
As a Christian, I have seen many that I have attended church with struggle with the theology of feminism that it might be some “worldly” mentality. I have to say, I think that’s bunk.
The idea that helping women to become more educated, more self-sufficient, more productive members of society would be against the will of God seems ludicrous. The God I know and believe in created ALL people in His image and I highly doubt if I wear a bra He doesn’t want me to live my best life that he blessed me with. And I sure can’t imagine just because I am a woman He would want me not to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now sure, I know abortion isn’t typically a kosher belief in the walls of evangelical churches. And I’m trying not to open a whole other can of worms and talk about free choice, pre-destination etc….that’s another blog, for a real scholar. But I know this, without a doubt, God loves me no matter what decisions I’ve made, or will make. I’ve not had an abortion, I’ve thankfully never been in a situation where it was considered and I don’t pretend to understand what women are going through when they’ve been raped, or anything of the sort. But I’ll say this, God loves them, He cherishes them, no matter their decision.
And please, save your “love the sinner hate the sin” rhetoric, my Jesus died on the cross for my sins NOT because of what I have done but because of who HE is.
Christian friends, do yourself a favor. Read the Bible for what it says…there are women in more parables in the Bible than I can count, women were being educated in Luke, Jesus NEVER shamed a woman when most of the world would have like the story of the woman at the well, there were women in Luke and Mark who were financiers and evangelists, and women were advocated for all the way back in Luke 7 and Mark 14. I’m just saying Church (with a big C), Jesus died for men and women alike and if He didn’t separate their rights, why should you decide you can?
We’ve unfortunately gotten to a place in society that by saying something matters, you assume the person is insinuating that something else does not matter. Like by saying “Black lives matter” that does not mean that black lives matter more than other races, or that you are anti-white. It just means they matter, because they do. And being feminist does not mean you are anti-men, you just think women’s rights matter, because again, they do.
I preach this mini-sermonette today to say, I’m still not sure I would define myself as a feminist. But I do believe in equal rights for all humankind, whether you wear a bra, burn a bra, never seen a bra or even know what a bra is. And I applaud my friends who march for equality, I’m not a marcher myself-I hate crowds, but I do want to be a voice for change in our society and I believe we can all play a pivotal role.
So go burn your bras friends, and spend a grand to buy another one b/c now that is a plight for women how expensive they are, just saying!