What Feminism Means To Me

For the month of March, Common Room is hosting an event: International Women’s Month! March 8th marks International Women’s Day, and the ladies over at ComRom decided to take the whole month to celebrate women! Take a gander at the awesome themes they have lined up for the month, and write up a post to join in if you wish! As for me, I’m being a bit of a rebel gal, and going off theme for a personal post about myself and feminism.

Feminism isn’t something I’ve really ever talked about at length on the blog. And I think it’s because for a long time, I didn’t really know how I identified as a feminist. In fact, for a long time I was pretty sure that I wasn’t a feminist.

I’m aware that sounds a bit odd. But from a decently young age, I’ve had an idea of what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to be a mom. Even as a teenager I knew without doubt that I wanted children. It was the only thing I was sure of. I didn’t have outside influences for this. I come from a family of working women (my grandmother was a door-to-door lightbulb saleswoman in the 1950s while taking care of two kids while my grandfather was away in the military!) and I grew up with a focus on education and creativity thanks to my parents. Both my parents did a damn good job of making sure that I know I’m a smart gal capable of achieving anything I put my mind to.

feminism - stereotypes(source)

But even through high school, and college, the only ‘career’ I really and truly wanted was to be a stay at home mom.I had other jobs in mind, but nothing that sprung the word passion to mind. Other than the idea of someday being a parent. I wanted to raise my children, I wanted to take care of the house, I wanted to cook yummy food, I wanted to bake cookies. And according to the (limited) information I had at the time, this made me a ‘bad feminist’.

My idea of feminists when I was younger can be summed up as a really bad stereotype: man-hating women who don’t shave and swear a lot. I’m not kidding. It’s embarrassing. But that’s what I had to go on. And it’s because that is often how the media portrays feminists. They show the extreme but present it as the norm. I assumed that because I didn’t hate men, didn’t harbor an innate desire to ‘rise above’ men (Equal? Yes. Dominate? No.) and because my life goal was to be a mom, I couldn’t possibly be a feminist.

stereotypical feminism(source)

Today? A hugely different story. I know I’m a feminist. And one major event sparked that change. The birth of my daughter. I find a lovely sort of symmetry in the fact that having a child, one of the things that originally made me question my feminism, is what brought about the strongest change in identifying with myself as a feminist.

feminism quote kate nash

Having her made me realize that I never want her to grow up in a world where she may be overlooked or judged as less because she’s female. Or where she may not think she can do things because she’s a girl. I also don’t ever want her to question her choices solely because of her gender. Because to me, along with equality, that’s what feminism comes down to. Choice. Not feeling like IΒ haveΒ to do anything because of my gender. Not feeling like IΒ can’t do something because of my gender. It’s the freedom to choose what I want for my life, regardless of gender.

feminism quote joan jett

Back in 2014, I found this gem of an article, titled I Can Cook For My Husband & Still Be A Feminist. And I seriously wanted to cry when I read it. YES! THIS IS ME! I already identified as a feminist, but to find someone else who shared the exact views I did was so validating. It was like a weight off my shoulders, to find more people in the world who chose the same path I did and still call themselves feminists.

my feminism(source)

I know the extremes exist. I’ve personally been told that I can’t be a feminist because I’m a stay at home mom, and that I’m contributing to holding women back. But now, that no longer bothers me. Feminism comes in so many forms, whether you wear pink dresses and do your nails every day or wear nothing but black and never want children. IΒ am a feminist. I chose the life of being a stay at home mom and raising my child, taking care of the house, and making a damn good chocolate chip cookie. That’s my feminism.

What’s yours?

  • Karen

    One of the greatest detriments to feminism is the misinformation out there. There isn’t one end-all-be-all definition of the term, only stereotypes which perpetuate the inequality. What I love is that you can see that a SAHM CAN be a feminist, especially because you are looking forward to your own child’s future. You are seeking to educate yourself so you can understand why you may/may not be which I sincerely wish more people would do! Rock on, my friend! I look forward to reading more!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much, Karen! I completely agree that misinformation is detrimental. Stereotypes do exist, but to perpetuate the idea that they are the ONLY options for any category is so damaging. Choice and equality – that’s what counts, even if the choice is different from my own. Thanks for reading, and taking the time to comment!

  • Danielle Knapp

    This post rocks on so many levels. I know that there were times that I doubted being a feminist because I’m a stay-at-home-mom as well, but you know what – we’re making a choice and doing something we want to do regardless of other potential opportunities or thoughts on what we should or shouldn’t be doing. On the opposite end, I have a little boy, and I work hard to make him aware that females can do all of the same things he can do and should always be treated the same as everyone else. Parenthood really gives a whole new perspective on things πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Yes yes yes! The choice, that is what counts! And good for you for raising your son in such a manner. Men can (and SHOULD) be feminists as well, and all men start out as boys – I can only hope so many other mums like you do the same! Way to go!

  • I love that you have written this. My father raised me to be a feminist actually, and encouraged me to research women of history. In college a few semesters back I took my first women and gender studies class, and I haven’t looked back. It is true that in the second wave women were trying to “get out of the kitchen” but in the third (where we are now) we realize that women can be what they want: mom, student, business owner, whatever… we just want equal chances to achieve our dreams. Thank you for sharing your story! And Girl Power Rocks!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much! And I completely agree – in that time, so many women were expected and in some cases basically forced by family and society to only be the role of mom/caretaker. But that isn’t the case anymore, and it’s sad that some women are shamed by other women for choosing that life. Because as you said – women have the choice to be what they want! It doesn’t make them ‘more’ or ‘less’ of a feminist because of it. As long as we all have an equal shot at what we want, which is what needs to work on changing now. So yes, Girl Power all the way!

  • What a perfect post. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? Choice and equality. πŸ™‚

    • Kay

      Absolutely! That’s what counts, and no one is ‘more’ or ‘less’ of a feminist because of the choices they make, as long as they are doing what makes them happy. Thank you for reading!

  • You know, your idea of feminists was the same way I pictured them in my mind. I thought that feminists were those women who think men are stupid and mean and I didn’t want to be one of them at all!
    I have to thank Emma Watson, because, even if I had finally understood the real meaning of feminism, she opened my eyes even more. Probably because she’s just 6 months older than me and I can easily “relate” with her.

    • Kay

      Yes! Ugh, I love Emma Watson so much haha. And I was in the same boat – I liked men, both romantically and as friends. I never experienced overbearing men, and didn’t identify with anything I’d seen that was feminist. It took a long time to discover what feminism actually was for me, but I’m glad I finally did! I’m glad you did too!

  • Sonya

    I love this post so much because for a (short) while I was in the same kind of boat. I was lucky that my first exposure to feminism that really stuck with me, around 13 or 14, was really positive, so I decided pretty quickly that I was one (because I wasn’t weird enough as a teenager to begin with, apparently). But as I’ve gotten older and started thinking more about what I ultimately want in life, there was a period when I just felt /confused/ because I didn’t know if I was “allowed” to want children and a farm and just to stay home taking care of those things in a domestic way. It wasn’t an extended period, but it was a tough one, until I basically said, “Fuck it.” Because feminism can so nuanced and hard to define at times, but I think in the end it’s about respect and choice and opportunity being open to everyone than much else. And now I have to stop or I’m going to ramble too much and confuse myself.

    • Kay

      I love rambling, so feel free. πŸ™‚ I completely agree that it’s about respect and choice. I remember my BFF got into a huge discussion because she participated in a “Why I Need Feminism” campaign. Basically, you hold up a sign that says, “I Need Feminism Because…” and then you write why, snap a pic, and send it in. She wrote on her sign, “I Need Feminism Because….I am sick to death of PINK running shoes.” And I remember being so offended. I personally don’t like pink at all, never have. But to me, that implied that women who DO like pink running shoes are somehow ‘less feminist’ than those who prefer other colors. What the fuck is that? If you don’t like pink running shoes, don’t buy them! They come in a billion other colors! So I completely feel that it comes down to respecting what women want, even if that choice is drastically different than your own. Because I just don’t see the sense if living a life that wouldn’t make me happy just to fit into someone else’s idea of what I should be…isn’t that exactly what feminists fight against??

      Now I’ve rambled on, but my point is – live whatever damn life you please! Have kids and a farm and love every second of it!

  • I love this post so much at the end of the day feminism is basically allowing women the freedom to be whoever the hell they want to be! I think the term did have a bad rep in the past but we’re beginning to rectify that and people are no longer afraid to identify with being a feminist. Also I think having kids does change your view on the world a bit although I don’t have kids myself since my nephews, nieces and god-daughters came into this world I have started caring more about “the future” and not wanting them to go through the things I did because at the end of the day we have a responsibility to make this world a better place not just for us but for future generations xoxo

    • Kay

      Yes, it’s soooo true. I can’t believe how differently I see many things (especially feminist related issues) now that I have a child, especially a daughter. And yes, feminism should absolutely be all about respecting each woman’s choice, even if it’s different from your own. That’s what counts!

  • Lovely post~!! To me, you are a true feminist. I don’t mean that in the… You’re ‘interests’ are feminist way, etc. I mean that in the… You believe in equality, and don’t push others down like so many feminists I see do. Most of the time, when I come across a feminist, they are either hating men (and I witness this daily, which is so sad), including the dreaded “male tears’ joke (which is where I instantly un-follow that person) or they are hating other women. That girl who shaved? How dare she. Does she want to look like a child? *cringe* Ignoring trans men and women, and men and women of color, etc. It’s very sad.

    I call myself an equalist. I used to hate feminism, because of the kind of people mentioned above. I no longer do, but it’s just not a title, term, lifestyle, or what have you, that *I* feel fits *me*. I don’t fight for just gender equality, but for ALL equality. Gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, career, lifestyle and so on. As long as one person / one group isn’t harming someone, of course.

    Yes, I KNOW other feminists do. Like I said, it’s just not a term that fits me. I used to get women HATING me for this, and that right there was why I said, to me, you are a true feminist. Because you seem to support women, and men, no matter what (within limits, of course.)

    I am glad you posted about the subject, and let us comment. You rock~!! I hope more people follow your way of thinking, and stand up for your beliefs.

  • Danette Perez

    Yaaa, love this <3 I think just the fact that the media and culture so quickly and aggressively polarizes (or, focuses on the extremes- or exaggerated stereotypes of!) feminism really shows how sad a spot we are in. I think many of us had similar experiences growing up- "Bra burning and man hating? Guess I'M not a feminist…". If you quickly consider all types of groups- religions, animal rights orgs, ect, it's safe to say EVERY group has an extreme. Why then when (most people) think "Christian" do they think "kind people who believe in a God (a decent representation of the group's ideals, that most Christians would identify with) but when people think "feminism" they think "bra burning/ man hating" (a poor representation of the group's ideals, that the minority/ less feminists identify with)? Why is it so hard to change people's mind's on feminism- or even open peoples' ears to new information on the subject? I think there is a lot of fear and defensiveness surrounding the subject. "Women want the things??? How dare they want the things!!! Women already have the things!!! Now they'll have more things men!!! WTF will happen then??? Women will then take over the world!! Women must not get the things!!!" General arguments against feminism in a nutshell. Lol. It really shouldn't be as big a to-do as it is to say "Women are people too. Let's treat them kindly and let them live in a world where they don't have to fear for violence and discrimination. And may we one day live in a world where the word that represents this- feminism!-, is a word which is one that ALL women and MEN are given opportunity to understand what it means and are not ASHAMED or AFRAID to identify with it <3

    • Kay

      YES YES YES YES YES! Exactly this! I do so love our feminism discussions. And I agree, every group absolutely has it’s extremes, and some are definitely put forth by society to be the norm, not the exception. Unfortunately, feminism is one of those groups. PS, remind me to have you read Y The Last Man (graphic novel series)…so much good stuff about feminism in it and different portrayals of the various feminist types that are out there!

      • Danette Perez

        All the fem love!!! Truth. And yes, remind me to read that! πŸ˜› Heehee. Awesome post dude.

  • YASSSSSS! This post is all kinds of awesome and I feel like shouting GIRLPOWER at the top of my lungs! I’m with you on feminism. In high school, I thought it was something negative. I thought it meant you hated men or were a hippy or a lesbian and later learned that none of that is true, though of course you can be a hippy or lesbian feminist. But I now know it does not mean hating men.

    Fuck those people who say you can’t be a housewife and a feminist! You’re definitely not a bad feminist. A feminist is simply someone who wants equal rights for women and you can strive for that while also baking delicious cookies at home! There’s no difference between a feminist CEO and a feminist housewife! You keep being your bad ass self, Kay! πŸ™‚
    ~Sara

    • Kay

      Thanks Sara! And I definitely will. πŸ˜€ Being a housewife is what I want, and that is just fine! Feminists come in so many varieties. πŸ™‚

  • FFFPPPPPTTTT! That’s the sound in my head when someone implies you can’t be a stay-at-home-mom/housewife/ect AND a feminist. Feminism helps break down gender roles and stereotypes to allow us all just to be people, complex people who don’t fit into little boxed definitions. To me, feminism is about respect and not pushing narrow judgments and expectations on each other. I totes used to be like “ew, feminism no” too btw…
    It’s all about taking the time to listen with an open mind and learn from new info and new points of view.

    • Kay

      Yes, exactly this! Respecting another person’s choice even if it differs from your own – absolutely!

  • Love this! It’s so sad that many of us grew up thinking feminism was bad, simply because that’s pretty much ALL that media shares about it. Like, if you don’t hate men and you’re not burning your bra then you’re not a feminist. I didn’t REALLY learn about it until I was maybe 13 or so. I think pretty much all women are feminists, as long as they support other women’s decisions! Like, even though you wanted to be a SAHM you don’t judge other women that didn’t.

    Also I hate the stereotype that if you want to do “women” things then you’re anti-feminist. I don’t cook very often and people like to joke that it’s because I’m such a feminist and I force Andrew to do the cooking. In reality I just really suck at cooking, and it bums me out because cooking is such a badass skill to have lol.

    • Kay

      Oh my gosh YES. I so hate the notion that doing feminine things makes you ‘less’ of a feminist or that doing stereotypical ‘manly’ things makes you ‘more’ of a feminist. I’m not even that ‘girly’ of a girl (been a tomboy my whole life, and that hasn’t really changed in adulthood) but that doesn’t make me more of a feminist than the woman who wears head to toe pink and does her makeup everyday. It shouldn’t matter! If you’re making your own choices and believe in equality among gender, you’re a feminist!

  • I’m pretty sure I am very much like you Kay! I when I worked I wanted to work and then my little boy came into my life and I wanted nothing more than to be with him. I think this is brilliant and the way you approached the stereotype of a feminist is genius. I think pieces like this are very important. Because they help ti disspell myths about what people view is correct.

    Really great Kay!

    • Kay

      Thank you so much Dina! It’s so great knowing there are other women who have made the same choices I have and that we are ALL definitely feminists.

      • Yeah I think even though we forged different paths and we aren’t shouting it from the room tops us SAHM are still feminists in our own way.

  • Emma

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here – feminism doesn’t mean you have to strive to be better than a man, it means you have to strive to be your best self, no matter what hurdles hit you, no matter what people think. It means doing whatever makes you happiest without being afraid of judgement. If ‘feminists’ judge you for wanting to be a stay at home mum, then by rights they should not be calling themselves a feminist.

    • Kay

      Yes, exactly! You don’t get to consider a woman less valid because of her choices and still call yourself a feminist. That goes against the whole point!

  • <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  • gamerwife

    I LOVE this. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Kay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it Mariko! Most welcome. πŸ™‚

  • Thank you for sharing your story! So many inspiring words. <3

    • Kay

      Thank you for for reading, I’m glad you liked it!

  • This was great to read Kay. I’m glad you were a rebel and shared it. <3 It's such a loaded word or maybe it was and now we're finally becoming more and more comfortable saying it. I still find it weird to hear "celeb will not call herself a feminist." It's just so simple, not sure why others don't understand.

    • Kay

      Thanks Hadas! I think there is still such a stigma attached to the word feminism, which is quite unfortunate. It just helps reinforce inaccurate stereotypes. But there is also a lot of progress!

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