Last weekend I took a weekend trip to the coast with three of the closest women in my life. My mother, our sweet friend Lori, and my best friend, Demitria, spent the weekend immersed in each other… in eating, drinking, sunbathing, and a whole lot of talking.
I realized I’ve always been surrounded by accidental feminists. The men and women in my life have always required me to be funny, smart, playful, and self reflective. My father and my brother made me feel safe, valuable, and ultimately capable.
My earliest influences encouraged me to cultivate interests, strength, and a sense of humor. I remember my mother deflecting comments on my appearance or “cuteness”… with a token phrase that reverberates in my head, “she has a really good heart”. I started absorbing…even in my earliest memories… the important truth that conversations about females’ looks are boring… and more importantly destructive. I was taught that I should fiercely protect my fully complete soul, and learn to identify the ideologies that threaten it.
And in that spirit… I wish for every woman in my life to grasp onto feminism.
You don’t have to believe that any collective manifestation of the idea has been perfect, you do not have to agree whole heartedly with every word uttered by any woman whose claimed the idea before you, and you don’t have to call yourself a victim. It’s about acknowledging the rights we take for granted now… for which women before you tirelessly fought. It is our obligation to make the world better.
Feminism gives women the vocabulary, the literary canon, and the fire… needed to push back against a strong and toxic passed-down-so-subtly narrative that threatens their self worth, their relationships, and their safety. It’s important. Your daughters and your friends need it.
They’ll need to understand the history of our society in order to protect themselves.
They’ll need to understand that gender plays a huge role in their lives.
They’ll need to know that the impulse they have to protect the male ego, handed down by generations they can’t name, does them and their relationships a disservice. They’ll need to know that in school and church, when they learn about sex, the conversation will be geared towards boys. They’ll be able to name the parts of a male’s anatomy before they can name their own….and when they do learn about their own, they’ll only remember that they can produce children. They’ll need the vocabulary to know why this is unfair. They’ll need to know that no matter how much they’ve “tempted” a boy, their body is their own and they have every right to it.
They’ll need a filter through which to absorb constant indoctrination. Every tired television sitcom rerun they see will feature married couples enacting a dangerous plot: the husband wants sex and the wife is tired and disinterested. They should learn to identify the dying ideologies that seek to slow down progress. Both men and women are sexual beings. Both men and women seek sex for pleasure. It is a tragedy that girls absorb an alternate reality… that their bodies exist for the pleasure of their spouses… that it is normal to dislike sex with their partners. Feminism teaches them otherwise.
They’ll need to know that every time they hear a girl talk negatively about another’s body, or clothes, or makeup… they should shut it down. They should know that it comes from Western society’s age old desire to make women objects.. and they should reject it. They should be taught that girls are not competing for the desire of men. They know the truth when they’re children… and we teach them otherwise. The societal machine is a strong one, and feminism gives us the tools to undo the damage we’ve done.
The American feminist movement doesn’t ignore that comparably, we have it so much tangibly better than women in other parts of the world. That is why American feminism is important. We have to call out what it is about the human psyche that puts women in danger. What ideologies are Americans holding on to that manifest in psychological and physical danger for women… because it is IDEAS about female inferiority that lead to their inexplicable suffering in other societies. Feminism is not an American concept… and in that strain... The Women's March was not only an American feminist demonstration.
It’s not perfect. No human movement is. But this is a good thing.
We had a female candidate for the highest office in the nation this year. She was more experienced than any presidential candidate before her… and she lost to the most unexperienced candidate in history.
The tide seemed to be turning as women everywhere watched the world take her seriously. The media stopped talking about her clothes, her looks, and her husband’s sexual history. Finally.
Donald Trump, however, reeks of an ideology about women that is dangerous and backwards. The media is back to talking about his wife’s and daughters’ clothes and looks… and we’re done with that tired narrative. It damages all of us.
He’s talked about my anatomy in the vernacular of a horny degenerate… and he won.
That’s why this is so important now. We cannot go backwards.
My friends and I will continue to fight for a world in which we want to raise children.. a world where little girls and boys are encouraged to be funny, smart, wild, dirty, and bossy… where little girls and boys are encouraged to show their emotions and be honest about who they are.
My mom, dad, and brother were accidental feminists… but I cannot and will not pretend that every little girl is so lucky.