What Feminism Means To Me
Recently, I was listening to the wildly popular podcast called #MOMTRUTHS with Cat & Nat. I love a lot of what they are trying to do for moms and, more widely, women in general. They speak honestly about the challenges that come with motherhood and the expectations that are placed on women. They make space for daily humour and fight for women to unify and support one another no matter what path they choose to walk. There was, however, one episode that left me absolutely fuming. Cat & Nat started talking about feminism, saying:
“We’re feminists, aren’t we? Do you realize how feminist we are?… When I really look at what you and I stand for… just knowing that, as a woman, you can do anything… You don’t know what a feminist means? I don’t either. But I think that we are the most feminist people I know… I think that you and I actually believe… that women are superior… I think that we’re stronger. Well, that’s better. I think we can multitask more than they [men] can. If there was going to be one species left standing, it would be a woman. So I think we’re the best. Ya, I think that’s why we can have babies. They didn’t give them to those Sally’s they gave them to us.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for these two badass women blazing a trail for others to follow. But I also believe that public figures with over 300k followers on Instagram, a book, and a tour should educate themselves before boldly stating they are something that they clearly don’t understand. Unfortunately, public figures such as Cat & Nat, who make statements on feminism without knowledge on what it means to be a feminist, slows the progress of such an important movement. Feminism becomes a dirty word. People start to think that feminism is about a wave of power-hungry women burning bras; women who want females to be the superior gender. This is most definitely not what being a feminist is (at least not to me).
Feminism, to me, is simply fighting for equality for all regardless of gender, gender identity, colour, race, size, age, or sexual orientation. Equality does not mean equal. There are differences between men and women - at the very core of who we are, DNA doesn’t lie. The aim of feminism isn’t to be equal but to find balance through equality. Equality in our access to the same advantages that men have. Equality in our right to choose which issues to address and, more importantly, how we deal with issues specific to our gender. Equality in the way we are treated because of who we are as humans, and not a specific chromosome we were born with. Equality in pay based on merit and performance. Equality requires us to give females power which doesn’t mean taking away the power of men. What good is a movement for equality if one of the core actions is to suppress another group?
Being a feminist doesn’t mean that I have to shout from the rooftops my beliefs and values. I don’t need to carry pamphlets on the importance of feminism or tout my views to any willing listener. Feminism can be done every single day and can be practiced from the home. Feminism can be a quiet battle. It is what I teach my daughter and son every single day and what I model for them through my own actions. Every day I am advocating for equality for all through the way I parent my children. I want my daughter to know that she has the right to do anything my son does without feeling oppressed, judged, or undervalued. In the same vein, I want my son to know that he too can do anything my daughter does without feeling those same negative feelings. I am teaching my daughter that she has control over her own body, the career she wants for herself, and the path she walks to get there, just as my son does. I want my kids to grow up knowing that the world is a better place when they fight for equality; that holding each other's rights in as high regard as their own has a positive impact on all. Through me, they are learning that the only limits they have are the ones they set for themselves.
So often women are called to action; to stand up and fight for equality. But this is not a singular gender battle. We need to call upon men to be champions of feminism. We need the men who still overwhelmingly hold positions of power to bring to bear their leadership and push for change. They need to step up and fight for equality, battling systemic issues that have been in place for years. We need the men who don’t hold what are deemed “typical” masculine values, jobs, and lifestyles, to be bold and brave. To show the little boys (and girls) of today that it’s okay to be whatever you want so that everyone can fearlessly pursue their passions. We need dads who model success in careers as well as being imperative members of working households to step-up and be seen. We need husbands who support their wives’ endeavours and who love unconditionally to speak out. Being passive in the fight for equality makes you complicit in issues that continue to divide us and hold back progress.
We need to continue the work of the strong women and courageous men who came before us so that future generations are left with a better world than the one we currently live in. May my children grow up and be able to look back and say “we have come a long way.” Let’s start today what we hope to see tomorrow.