Sunday, December 4, 2011

Every Girl, Every Boy

I am a feminist for the above-mentioned reasons and many more.

My boyfriend, Jeremy, is a feminist.

My two male cooperating teachers are feminists.
Many of my guy friends are feminists.
My sister is a feminist.
My brother-in-law is a feminist.
Many of my professors are feminists.
Probably every one of my friends and family are feminists (whether they know it or not).

(Check out my friend, Mindy Liebelt's, complete book of pictures here. It's a wonderful project of hers that deserves a look. Or two.)

Extreme feminists make me nervous. So do extreme conservatives, extreme liberals, extreme Christians, and extreme Muslims. When we associate a group of people with only the most extreme version of the people in that group, we are doing them--and ourselves--a huge disservice. We are smooshing everyone together as if all New Yorkers are exactly the same, all Mormons are exactly the same, all Mexicans are exactly the same, and all men are exactly the same. It's not fair and it's not right.

Feminism became a dirty word because it was associated with only the most extreme versions of the word. These over-generalizations led to name-calling them "femiNatzis," and painting them only as bra-burning, angry women who were anti-male, refused to shave their armpits, and were a threat to people everywhere. Really? What a sad, uneducated way to view an entire group of people out to do a lot of good, simply because the extremists of the group got all the attention and publicity.

A feminist is a person who believes in the radical notion that women are people too.

Radical, right? I know.

If you believe that your mother/sister/daughter deserves to be safe, educated, valued, given a voice, and paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work, you are a feminist.

Just about every group has negative connotations/stereotypes these days. There will always be some crazies wherever you go:
Feminists are anti-male
Men rape
Women are too emotional (and horrible drivers)
Hippies are druggies
Activists are angry
Christians are hypocrites
Muslims blow up buildings
Catholics molest little boys
Republicans are close-minded
Democrats are anti-Christian
Americans are selfish
Mexicans are immigrants

So, should I just avoid all of these groups of people because there are unfortunately some negative stereotypes associated with them?

I can disassociate myself from every group of people that has any flaws (for fear that it will reflect badly on me), or I can be part of the group while working to change it and make it better from the inside out.

I am a feminist because I want equality and freedom for men and women. It's worth it to me to take on the title "feminist" in spite of some people's uneducated stereotypes. Because I know better.

And, as Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better."


Shreen said...

I love this, thank you! You say it so very well.

Claudia said...

As a fledgling baker, I encourage any boy to find an E-Z Bake oven. Thank you so much for all you do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Heather for putting it in such an eloquent way. You've voiced exactly what I try to explain to other people:) Keep writing great stuff, your words can really help...

Katie said...

Reminds me of a conversation in Philosophy class.....thanks for finding the words to express what I, and I'm sure many, feel. <3