Lately the feminist movement is front and center in the news, our social media, and the public psyche. Issues like equal pay, rape culture, and catcalling are getting daily attention and I think that is fantastic. I identify as feminist, proudly so! I have two daughters and three sons and I am trying to raise all of them to be proud feminists too.
I provide daily reminders to my kids like “color and inanimate objects do not have gender” and “boys and girls can do anything they choose, gender does not limit your dreams” these are common lectures in my home. I’m an advocate of equality.
Everyone has their own idea of feminism and what it means to each of us. It is truly a personal thing. We all have our own journeys to take. I read a lot about these ideals, media outlets share their own opinion on the role of women and men in perpetuating the feminist movement. There seems to be a lot of “rules” most of them contradictory….you can’t pose nude…posing nude is empowering etc. It’s downright confusing!
In order to help us clear up some misconceptions, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to the topic at hand…modern feminism and share my rules of conduct:
- Anyone can be a feminist and everyone should. By definition feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. It’s really that simple and there really isn’t much more to it, do you believe that men and women should be politically socially, and economically equal? Congratulations, you’re a feminist! Now go out and advocate for that equality because we need you!
- Don’t perpetuate sexism. Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination based on someone’s gender is as anti-feminist as you can get but to be clear, it doesn’t only happen to women. We do it to men too and if we expect equality then we have to acknowledge that sexism isn’t exclusive to women and stop doing it all the way around. You can’t be mad at a movie like Showgirls or Burlesque while chomping down on some popcorn at your local theater’s showing of Magic Mike. Am I right ladies?
- Our bodies, our choice. This isn’t just a slogan for pro-choice activists. That “slogan” holds true whether you get plastic surgery, twerk, pose nude, or decide whether or not to carry a baby full term. There is no grey area around this, we can’t be feminists and shout “our body, our choice” while shaming Renee Zellweger for alleged plastic surgery. Nor can we judge Nikki Minaj for her Anaconda video or any woman who poses nude for anything, anywhere! Their body, their choice, whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant.
- Stop the slut shaming. Recently I made the case for removing this word from our vocabulary all together. If you are confused as to why I feel this way, read rule #3 above. We live in a time where women have more freedoms than ever before, I am speaking as an American and I realize this isn’t the case for all women world-wide. At the same time we still insist on labeling certain behaviors as unsavory but none of us are in a place to judge. We can’t call ourselves feminist while shredding our sisters for choices they make with their bodies.
- Let’s stop judging each other all together. Everything from “who wore it best” lists to “hate it or love it” polls beg us to judge each other based solely on our looks. The fashion police, worst dressed, best dressed, hot or not, it all needs to stop. We can’t move forward as feminists if we continue to feed into these types of judgments. Every time we tune in, buy the magazines, fill out the online polls, we set the modern feminist movement back decades. It’s immature and hurtful. Could you imagine if every time you got dressed and left your house there were cameras waiting to capture your look and then turn it over to the masses to judge?
- Stop telling us how to be feminists. There is no doubt our fore-sisters paved the way at a time when being feminist was very dangerous. I also believe that in order to know where we stand we must know where we’ve been and we can learn a lot from those women. But times have certainly changed and as we walk the trail they’ve blazed we must acknowledge the differences in our movement versus theirs. Yes, there are many things that threaten our cause and it’s important to pick up the torch and stand up for our rights, reproductive or otherwise. It is also important to do it our own way. We are not our fore-sisters and feminism in the 21st century means something different then it did in the 19th and 20th centuries. What those differences are is up to each of us to define for ourselves. We have to stop imposing our ideas of feminism on each other. See rule #1 – all you have to do is believe and advocate for equality, how we do that is up to each of us individually.