I shave my armpits and legs, wear high heels and makeup, and love dresses, do my level best to cook dinner for my family and keep the house looking nice, work a full-time job, maintain something that might pass for a social life (even if 3/4s of it is conducted online), and love God and Country (The Country, not Country music. That I do not love.) I am what a feminist looks like.
In my early years, I was really confused about what constituted Feminism. Feminism, in my brain, was yelling at men, and burning your bra, and being a hippie of loose moral character. That’s what I saw on the news, anyway. I thought Feminism was about being angry and unattractive. I was wrong. I was also five, so I can be forgiven.
But thanks to those hairy, angry, loose women, I have never had to make a choice about whether to put on lipstick or march for legislation. I know that a Feminist can do both. Hillary Clinton looks mighty fine in her suits, and Libby Dole never looked too shabby either.
What is Feminism about, aside from the trappings of fashion? Stealing from the best definition I’ve seen: It is about defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.
We define equity in political, economic and social rights, and equity in opportunities for women through a guaranteed right to political process, the ability to earn equal wages for equal work, and guaranteed rights to conduct our lives with the same array of options and choices (including education, work, and lifestyle) as men, and we define equal opportunities as just that. If a man is allowed the chance to do it, a woman should be allowed the same opportunity.
We establish and defend these equities through legal or political process, as politicians ourselves, or as lobbyests, or as private citizens through our voices and our votes, and by demanding our equality–demanding our rights, even when the other side does not want to hear us.
I am a Feminist. I am about equal rights for all people. And the older I get, the more I want to talk about it, and the more I understand the anger, and the more I understand the importance of refusing to sit down and be quiet. And the older I get, the more I realize what mountains my forebears crushed into molehills.
My generation, and the generations of women after me didn’t fight those fights, we only reaped the benefits. Our job is to not only press forward while maintaining the status quo, but to protect and nurture womens’ rights to choose where they stand in life, and to ensure that the spirit of Feminism is shared throughout the world.