Every morning, I send my husband off to work with a packed lunch and a kiss. While my husband is at work, I spend my days making block towers, sweeping up Cheerios and continuing the absolute endless cycle of laundry. I wear a frilly apron while I cook and bake, which I love to do. I love to craft. I live in the suburbs. And I’m a feminist.
What? You expected feminists to be a little more Pussy Riot and a little less Carol Brady? You’re not alone. The overwhelming success of the Women’s March put feminism back en vogue, while anti-feminists resurrected cringeworthy stereotypes that feminists are anti-family man haters. This myth is not only comically inaccurate, it also perpetuates a negative stigma that hurts our cause.
The heart of feminism is truly just the radical notion that women are people deserving of equality. The dictionary definition of feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” Most Americans believe in equality of the sexes. At the same time, most Americans do not identify with feminism. So, it’s not the principles of feminism most Americans take issue with, it’s just the label.
Hurting our cause and impeding feminist progress is exactly the goal for anti-feminists, so they promote these stereotypes because it’s the only card they have left to play. Think about it: They know most people believe in feminism, so they can’t simply chant, “Argh! Women aren’t deserving of equal rights and men are better in every way!” So they resort to the cheap shots: stereotyping feminists in this lame us vs. them dichotomy. Those who demean feminists are feeling threatened and are not exactly skilled in the art of factual debate.
After the hugely successful Women’s March, many women quickly sought to separate themselves from the movement as well, declaring “Not my March!” The truth is — it doesn’t have to be your march. Across the globe from our nation’s capital to tiny towns to Antarctica, millions of women marched. Millions! It was the largest protest in the history of the United States. For many of us, we marched for ourselves, and it felt good.
As a mother, I fit right in as a feminist at the Women’s March. The values affecting my own and millions of other American families were clearly represented:
– The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that denies our working parents paid family leave. I believe my fellow parents deserve the chance to have children without financial burden.
– Working mothers not only compete in an environment not conducive to parenting, they’re also paid less than men. I believe hard-working women should not be paid less on the basis on their sex alone.
– In 2012, every parent’s nightmare became a reality when 20 children were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We swore never again and yet, we have had 186 more shootings on school campuses since. I don’t want to send my children to school and fear it will be the last time I see them.
– I believe women are deserving of reproductive health care and preventive cancer treatment.
– 1 in 3 women are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. I believe my children should be free to pursue their educations without sustaining trauma for the rest of their lives.
– I don’t believe my marriage to my husband should be any more valid than if I married a woman. I strongly believe everyone deserves the right to marry whomever they love and have a family.
– I believe black lives matter just as much as my own and those of my family.
– I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. I don’t believe thousands of Americans like me deserve to needlessly die due to a lack of coverage. I believe children deserve care whether or not they were born disabled or into poverty.
I don’t believe in these principles because I’m a liberal, Democrat, or feminist. I believe in these issues because I possess a certain level of common sense and human decency. I marched with my own mother surrounded by strong women whose voices demand to be heard. We’re not backing down because a few knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on the internet called us names.
The spirit of the Women’s March and feminism is inclusive, compassionate, patriotic, supportive, and powerful. It’s not about division, attacks, or hurling insults at others. We may be nasty women in terms of our anger, passion, and perseverance, but we’re not mean, hateful, or vindictive. Don’t believe a false narrative that tells you otherwise.
Feminism is not a dirty word. If you believe in the radical notion that women are people, you can sit with us. The Women’s March was only the catalyst for a much bigger movement, and it’s just begun. History has its eyes on you, and no matter who you are, it’s not too late for you to join us.