Me A Feminist?

While sitting in a Tim Horton’s one day, a friend asked me if I was a feminist.  I was taken aback by the question. “I don’t even know what a feminist is.”  She asked if I believe in equality for men and women.  “Well yes,” I replied.  “Then you’re a feminist,” she answered.

It seems that feminism has gotten a bad rap over the years.  Some people believe that feminism connotes militancy and an anti-men stance, but there are many men who believe in equality for the sexes as well.

Mary Stott, founder of the Guardian Women’s Page in 1957, defined the Women’s Liberation Movement as “a search for an identity and a protest at being typecast by sex from birth to death.” A search for an identity.  I like this.  Isn’t that what we’re all looking for – to be able to define ourselves and our place in the world?  It seems to me that this idea goes beyond gender.  The so called women’s question is also a whole people question.  The creation of a new woman demands the creation of a new man.

As I started to read about some of the signs that point to being a feminist, I was surprised to find that I fit into many of the roles:

  • I support equal rights.
  • I took a woman’s studies course in university.
  • I want to be recognized for my talents not my looks.
  • I am interested in advocacy and have strong opinions about issues that affect everyone.
  • I’ve thought about taking self defense classes to defend myself.
  • I believe that patriarchy is an unjust system that is oppressive to women.
  • I enjoy movies and books with a strong female lead.
  • I have encouraged my daughter to do anything she puts her mind to.

For many years now, I have tried to support my friends when they have been struggling.:Often times, their struggle is brought on because they lack confidence in themselves.  I can say this because it’s true of myself as well.  Women of the 1950s were taught to be selfless, to care for others before ourselves and that the man is always right.  It has been a long battle that continues even today, to learn to believe in myself.  But by taking small steps, I seem to be working towards a deeper need to help other women to believe in themselves as well.  After all, when we teach others, we are also reinforcing the idea of equality in our own minds as well.

Along with two other friends who also wish to help women to develop a fully realized identity, we are in the process of creating a program called A Woman’s Journey about the phases of a woman’s life.  It’s an opportunity to begin a conversation with other women about our life experiences and how we process them.  In this way, we are able to help other women who are going through the similar experiences. If this makes me a feminist, then that’s exactly what I am, and proud of it.

Categories: Women's Lives

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