Monday, December 6, 2010

Finding My Inner Feminist, Part 1

Accepting the Label

I’ve realized rather recently that I am a feminist.

Growing up Mormon in a mostly conservative midwestern town, I always had a rather negative association with feminism. I thought it meant wanting men and women to be not just equal, but the SAME. And this was just NOT acceptable to me. Men and women aren’t the same, and I frankly don’t want to be a man. Plus, we Mormons hold tight to the notion that men and women have very distinct roles to fulfill.

Through my adolescence I was taught by my parents that I could do whatever I want to do if I worked hard. I was encouraged to develop talents and excel in school. I received a scholarship to the university of my choice and pursued a major that would lead to a career. BUT I also really wanted to get married and have a family more than anything else. I always felt that being a wife and mother would bring me the most fulfillment and happiness. I knew I COULD do both a career and motherhood if I wanted, but I also didn’t really WANT to do that. I wanted to be home with my children.

As it turned out, I did graduate and got a job in my field. Then I met the man who would be my husband and got married and we started a family. I stopped working and am now very focused on being a mother. Which is exactly how I want it.

And this brings me back to feminism.... I am doing what I WANT to do. I have a CHOICE. I am choosing to make motherhood my main focus right now. But I am also really blessed to have the opportunity to develop my talents and bring in a bit of income through photography which I LOVE. Again, this is a choice I make.

I think women of my generation have taken this ability to choose for granted now. For most of history women didn’t get to make that choice. They had so few options to support themselves. They were almost always reliant on the men in their lives to provide for them--father, husband, brother, son. And so while I don’t agree with every aspect of the feminist movements, I most certainly am grateful for all the women (and men) who have stood against the status quo, who have challenged the patriarchy, and demanded women have equal rights. Every woman should thank our foremothers who fought in this fight.

To me feminism is not a dirty word. It means believing that women truly deserve equal rights in our society and are considered equal creations in the eyes of God. It means doing what I can in any small way to promote that idea. It means being strong and capable and WOMANLY. Because I am proud to be a woman. I love being a woman. I know I am capable and intelligent and divine. And I want every woman to believe that about herself too.

As it turns out, I’ve been a feminist all along. It’s just taken me awhile to claim the label.

Tomorrow-- Part 2, Feminist and Mormon


  1. There is something really freeing about accepting a label. I've done that for "feminist" and "lactivist." I look forward to tomorrow's post!

    (PS. I think you'll be interested in a new project I'm starting that will go live this next Sunday.)

  2. Great post.
    It's sad how being a feminist has all of these connotations as being a man hater when really it is just about men and women having equal opportunities. Whether we take those opportunities or not is up to us. But I'm glad they are there!

    Here's a question that has been circling the Sarah Palin debate: Can you be a feminist and pro life?

  3. Missy, I think you can. I think you can be a democrat and pro-life too. These labels aren't all or nothing platforms. There are many ways to be a feminist.