The definition of feminism, in its simplest form, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. If you believe this, then you have no right to throw shade at other women because you don’t admire their “life choices.”
I consider myself a feminist. I would even go so far as to say I’m a raging feminist. I believe in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. I’m raising my kids to treat all people equally and that they can be anything they want to be, regardless of their gender. Which is why I get super bummed out when I see women judging other women for the life choices they have made.
In my opinion, the very antithesis of feminism is deciding another woman cannot label herself as a feminist.
Yesterday I wrote about a Batman shirt Walmart was carrying that proclaimed the wearer was “Training to be Batman’s wife.” I thought the shirt sent the wrong message to young girls, which was to aspire not to Be the Batman, but to be his spouse. We can all agree that kids are impressionable. Our daughters are constantly inundated with messages that they are less than simply because of their gender. Women still make less than 77 cents on the dollar than men do. We have a long way to go toward equality. And in response to this article, a reader left a message on our Facebook page that gave me pause.
One of the reasons those of us who live in America are lucky to do so is because we have a lot of freedom. As women, we can choose to pursue a career or stay at home and raise a family. I think moms who teach their daughters that they have these choices are raising them in a feminist way. We don’t live in Saudi Arabia, where a woman’s choices are severely limited. If a woman decides she wants to stay home and raise a family and is doing so not because someone is making her, then she is no less a feminist than a woman who decides to choose a different path. It’s just that simple.
Yesterday Annie Lennox made the statement that she feels Beyoncé is using the term “feminist” wrongly and that she has no idea what being a feminist means. In Beyoncé’s 2013 hit “Flawless,” she samples from a TED Talk by Nigerian-born Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which Adichie says, “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” I think Beyoncé gets feminism. She is no less a feminist because of what she wears onstage than Lennox is because she chose to dress in men’s Savile Row suits when she performed.
I found my own personal feminist ideals when I was raising babies and not working outside the home. I didn’t feel like I was less of a feminist, because at that time I felt the most important job was being around when my kids were little. It was a choice I made, and even though my spouse would have supported me regardless, I made the decision based on what was best for me and my children. That’s feminism. Feminism is the fact that I had the freedom to make this choice for myself. And some women may work outside the home, either because they want to or because they have to. This doesn’t make them any less of a feminist either.
To me it’s exciting that feminism is trending in the news, that Emma Watson is delivering powerful speeches to the U.N. about the equality of the sexes and that Taylor Swift is giving quotes to news agencies applauding this speech. When I was young and exploring my own views on feminism, I didn’t have celebrities to look up to like this. And I believe, as a feminist, there is room for anyone at the table who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Whether they are a brain surgeon or a stay-at-home mom. Or Beyoncé.