Am I a Feminist?
Feminism. Such a loaded word. But what does it really mean? And…should I count myself among the numbers of those who support it? My first inclination is to say “no”.
Why? Because I believe that God endowed men and women with qualities that are unique to their gender. I do believe those qualities are generalizations, and apply to many of us, but certainly not all of us. But I also believe those generalizations are there. I don’t think it’s a load of patriarchal bull to say that most (but not all) men feel more worthy and more capable as fathers and husbands when they provide for their families financially. Or that they (again, mostly) have an intuitive desire to protect women. Or that they are able to separate their emotions from their logic, and thus can often make difficult decisions more rationally.
And I also can’t help but believe women have unique qualities too. For most of us, our emotions and our logic are all jumbled up together, which makes it so much easier for us to think compassionately. And most of us have a deeply ingrained desire to fortify our loved ones and make them feel like they can conquer the world. And we also are pretty darn good at nurturing children and raising them well. And so forth, and so on.
So. I guess you could call me a feminist to the extent that I don’t think men are more inherently qualified for leadership roles, and that women would bring an entirely different perspective to the table that is no less important in a role of leadership. But I also think that most women would be less able leaders than men where thinking rationally is extremely important (say, being a military officer). And I think men would be less capable leaders than women where thinking compassionately is extremely important (say, being the head honcho at an orphanage). Do I think there aren’t any women out there at all who wouldn’t make great military officers? Not at all. And do I think there aren’t any men out there who would make great heads of orphanages? Nope. I just think that, generally, each of those roles fits naturally with the unique qualities God gave to men and women.
Now, I’m still not so sure if these ideas are coming from my own mind or from a mind that has been brainwashed by my hierarchy-minded church upbringing (it’s happened before, and I’m still working through breaking out of being “brainwashed”). Maybe this idea of men and women having unique and distinct qualities is purely a social and religious construct, and has nothing to do with how God made each gender. But everything in my experience tells me something to the contrary, tells me that the way I think and act and live my life is pretty different from the way the men in my life think and act and live their lives. So at least for now, that’s what I’m going to go with.
So. Does that make me a feminist or not?
P.S. Gaaah. It definitely is a sign of being “brainwashed” that even typing the above question gave me chills. “Heaven forbid I ever become a feminist!” screams the dying fundamentalist in me. Guess I still haven’t broke free of the stigma surrounding the word “feminist” yet.