Women’s month. Which brings about talk of feminism. Which everyone seems to understand in a different way. But I am a Professor of Social Work and in the past 2 weeks I have taught 2 classes on Women, oppression of women and feminism. So basically I am an expert. And to add to it I am a woman and I am a feminist! So here is what feminism is NOT:
Women are better than men
Women should NOT have babies
Women need to work. And not at home
So here is what feminism really is:
Women having the same opportunities and choices as men. A feminist can be a stay at home mom. Because she wants to. A feminist can climb the corporate ladder. Because she wants to. A feminist can wear a burka. A feminist can wear a bikini. A feminist can respect men. A feminist can do all of these things because it is their choice.
Feminism is not about being better, but about being equal. It is getting rid of the double standard. It is about a women being called bossy for the same action that results in a man being called assertive.
Here is a great clip from Scandal in which Abby (the press secretary at the white house) is talking about how she needs to resign from her job because her boyfriend (presidential campaign manager) had a book written about his sorrid past.
Emma Watson (you know, Hermione) does a great job talking about it in the following clip. I love when she says “How can we change the world when only half of it is invited to the conversation”
And of course, one of my favorite voices of feminism, Nicholas Kristof. Not only has he published 2 books on changing the world for women across the globe, both of those books have been turned into documentaries. He writes about it often in his New York Times editorial as well. Check out his web page:
This issue is very important to me. As a woman, a mother of girls, a social worker and a human being. It is amazing what an be accomplished by allowing women a chance to live up to their full potential. The statistics are staggering. ONE has a campaign right now called “Poverty is Sexist”.
Did you read the stats? Of course you did… Can you believe the information about women dying in child birth? And child brides? And how girls get so few opportunities for any education at all? And then to read what women could contribute to the economy if they were safe, healthy, educated and then allowed to work. It’s amazing.
This is what it is about people. Feminism is an issue in the developed world certainly. But what happens when we think about it from a third world perspective. When women’s lives matter so little they are allowed to die just by having children. The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states “Women are not dying because of untreatable diseases. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving” .
This is feminism. And I have read blogs that denounce it. Because “women should respect men as the head of the household”, or “women were created to have babies”. You can believe that if you want. You can live that if you want. But the reason you are even able to make that choice is because of feminism. And as women (and men) we have to work just as hard to give everyone that choice.
Watch Half the Sky and A Path appears (or read the books… or both!) Listen to Emma Watson and others like her. Watch a great documentary called “A Walk to Beautiful” and learn about Obstetric Fistulas and what that means for a wife in Ethiopia. Learn about trafficking and genital mutilation. Pay attention to the double standards in your life, or the life of a woman you love.