I’ve never been one to refer to myself as a feminist. I’m not the biggest fan of labels. I feel as though the second I’m put into a category, it gives people a pass to assume things about me that may or may not be true. That being said, there have been certain moments in my life when I have felt damn proud to be a woman. Is that the definition of feminism? Maybe. I think the beauty of feminism is that its definition is up for interpretation. It is my humble opinion, and interpretation, that feminism has never been about women being better than men. It’s about equality. It’s the extinction of the practice of having to ask for things that you deserve, solely because you have different genitalia. I have always felt this way.
From a young age, my parents always stressed to my brother and me, with the same urgency, that we could be anything we wanted as long as we met the qualifications; if we didn’t, they pushed us to figure out how to achieve them. I never knew anything different. I had been taught that there would be men in this world with chips on their shoulders, watching me struggle from afar, who will think I am inferior upon hearing my name. With this in mind, for the rest of my life, I walked into a room ready to fight. I surrounded myself with women who were strong, smart, and loyal; women. I can count on one hand the number of male friends I have had in my life; a majority of them being former boyfriends. I think we’re taught that men who support women with full confidence, without even the slightest hint of doubt, are very far and few between. That was when I experienced my “feminist ah-ha moment.”
Only recently did I realize that feminism is so much more complex than just a definition. There will be women out there who are just fine with cowering down to their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. Just as there are men out there who worship their mothers, sisters, and wives; looking to them for guidance, and understanding that there are things that they as men simply just cannot do. Not every woman you meet will have your best interest at heart, and not every man you meet is deliberately working against you.
I realized that my mother was a woman who had stayed home to raise her children, letting her husband make the money. While to some she may be considered anti-feminist, I’d like to politely disagree. My feminism is about making choices for your own well-being based on what works for you, without being told you can’t. Choosing to stay home, choosing to get an education, choosing to terminate an unexpected pregnancy, choosing to be promiscuous, choosing to save yourself for marriage; those are all choices that we as women should be allowed to make unapologetically.
What is not a part of my feminism is tearing women down for these choices. No matter your gender, you do not have the right to tear a woman down for the way she chooses to live her life. We can’t expect a world that is so strongly against us to take us seriously if we spend so much time judging each other.
In my ah-ha moment, I made a vow to do my best to realize that my definition of “normal” is not the same as the women around me. I cannot assume that every woman I meet will support me, and I can’t assume every man I meet is against me. My success and prosperity, as a woman, begins and ends with me.