Cultural Appropriations

I Was Born A Feminist

I was born a feminist.

I know what you’re thinking. No one is born believing anything right from the womb. No one is born with the knowledge of good and evil, equality and inequality, hatred and love. Children are taught these things. Children grow up into adults with convictions and beliefs. Only then can you call yourself any type of label. Only when you reach the age of reasoning (whatever that age may be . . . for me, it probably was around 14 or so) can you decide what you are.

Except that I was born a feminist.

Oh, I didn’t know anything about first wave or second wave or third wave feminism. I didn’t know Gloria Steinem‘s name. I didn’t know that women fought for the vote in the early 1900s, burned bras in the 60s, or fought rape culture for as long as I’ve been alive. I didn’t know any of these things. And I didn’t care.

But I was born a feminist.

Feminism isn’t just about women’s rights. Feminism is the idea that women are equal to men. It goes beyond simply elevating women in the world. It’s about making sure that people of both sexes can feel equal in the eyes of the workplace, of society. It’s about celebrating our differences and curating our strengths. It’s about being able to say to our daughters, “You can be a scientist” and to our boys, “You can be a stay at home dad.” It’s about dropping the words “cunt” and “pussy” and “pansy” from our vocabulary because they make being emotional or gay or scared feminine things, and feminine equals bad.

Feminism is about remembering that all women deserve a chance to do what men can do. Feminism means that we should get paid equal pay for equal work. It’s about the fact that women who are victims of rape are not to blame for what happened to them. It’s about remembering that we need to teach men to remember these things, too. It’s about recognizing our privilege over our sisters who may be of colour, disabled, or queer. It’s about helping them to achieve the things that we take for granted and that feminism doesn’t just stop at white women who have loud voices.

Feminism recognizes the strengths and talents of women around the world. It recognizes that men have the ability to grow up to be people that support equality for their own mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. It’s about teaching everyone that they have worth in society. It’s about celebrating different body types. It’s about not having to smile to be pretty. It’s about being unconventional, or being conventional, because that’s your choice. It’s about raising your children the way you see fit with the tools you have. It’s about supporting each other and remembering that at the core, we all have double Xs in our chromosomes, and the women that don’t and weren’t born in bodies like ours are still women who need to be heard, loved, and supported.

Feminism is about equality. I was born a feminist.

Children are born not knowing the difference between women and men, black and white, straight and gay. Children are born knowing that their neighbour is their neighbour, that everyone can be a friend, and that everyone deserves a cookie when the plate is passed around. Children are taught the differences in society. Children are given cues to follow. But when they are born – all children know is that the people around them are people.

So, I was born a feminist. I was born not knowing the differences society wants to force on me, on everyone. And now that I do know the differences, I fight against them.

I am a feminist because I believe our world should have equal opportunities for women and men alike. I am a feminist because I believe that women are not inferior to men.

I am a feminist because I believe in mutual respect, equality, and love for all.

Any questions?

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9 thoughts on “I Was Born A Feminist

    1. This is a really good question, and it’s almost impossible to answer. I attend a women’s college, and sometimes people ask me whether I think we should go mixed-gender. My response is always “once the top levels of the university academic staff are gender equal with equal pay, and girls from all cultures have the same chance to attend university, then there might not be a place for women’s colleges”. At the moment, it’s still necessary. I don’t believe that “equal” means “identical”. Personally I want to be a stay at home mum, I don’t want to smash the glass ceiling. But there are a few things I think are good indicators of the inequality and when they’re gone, we will be getting somewhere: that the media stops talking about what female politicians are wearing, that shared parental leave (maternity and paternity) is available to everyone and not seen as an unusual choice, that there is no such thing as “women’s job” or a “man’s job”, that men who want to be primary school teachers or nannies aren’t viewed with suspicion, that women in the police force aren’t assumed to be lesbians… you’ll notice some of those things are about the raw deal that men get, because they’re closely linked. If something is seen as “women’s work” then that not only limits women, it limits men too.

      1. Sorry, I remembered a point I wanted to include. I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where no woman ever needs advocacy, but I hope that we will get to a point where that need is based on individual circumstance rather than membership of a generalisation – the same applies to ethnicity, disability, sexuality, any other group that society has decided to treat unfairly.

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