A Response to "I Am Not a Feminist and That Is Ok"

An article from The Odyssey has been circulating this past year on the topic of feminism, specifically, a criticism of feminism. This article is titled “I Am Not a Feminist and That Is Ok.” I would like to say first and foremost that I respect this writer, not only for her shared interest of writing but also for her willingness to speak candidly about a controversial topic that she knew could create much backlash. I'm not writing a response to tell this writer or followers of her opinion that they're wrong; I’m here to discuss how people of those same ideals might still be feminists. I’m also here to call out feminists who put down other women who have chosen a different lifestyle than them.

I also need to mention that I do not speak for all other feminists; feminism can be expressed and interpreted in many different fashions, with some followers having more extreme opinions than others. Many people are turned off by modern-day feminism, associating it with the seeming belief that men should be put down in the name of women’s empowerment. Personally, most feminists I know don't support this opinion. Feminism is the belief in the equal rights of all people, so true feminists don't call for the degradation of men or of anyone.

With that being said, true feminists should not put down other women. This is a very important point to me. Women have been the scapegoats of society since the dawn of patriarchy. Does that mean that men of today should be ridiculed for the mistakes of the past? Of course not. It means that society should do whatever is necessary to ensure the continuation of equal rights and empowerment of women and of any oppressed people. It also means that women should be supportive of each other; we are and have always been in this together.

Many women I know who do not consider themselves feminists attribute this to the fact that they value the role of a mother and housewife and willingly want a more submissive role in a marriage. The most important message I can send to women like this is: of course it’s ok to be a mother and housewife. In fact, it’s wonderful. It’s an undermined lifestyle, because it may sound easy, but anyone who has raised children or has been raised by a parent (mother or father; men can stay at home too) knows how difficult and crucial that role is. However, you can believe in being a housewife and stay-at-home mom and still be a feminist. You, as a strong, capable woman, CHOSE the role you wanted. You sacrificed for this life. If anyone degrades you for choosing that life then they are breaching the ideas of feminism which include that a woman has the power to choose whichever life she wants to lead.

The author of the article I am addressing questions why women want the same responsibility as men and argues that woman were made to be nurturing. Religion also factors into this argument. I understand that some women want that role, and perhaps do not understand why other women want to take on different responsibilities and rely solely on themselves, but people want different things. You can believe in those things for yourself and still support those who want something different. Maybe you do believe that women are more nurturing and more effective with raising children. Does that mean you would discourage your daughter from voting or from putting her education before a relationship? I would think that most women wouldn’t.

In today’s day and age, women are strongly encouraged to work and to not feel obligated to have children or be a housewife. It is crucial to encourage this as it a still a relatively new idea for women. The introduction of women into the workplace holding equal power and receiving equal pay must continue so that those values are not lost and women are not again subjected to a limited lifestyle. I understand that some women who don't choose to work may feel put down by feminism, and that should not be the case. However, that doesn’t mean that women who choose to not work or be a housewife should not support feminism. There are wrongs being committed on both sides.

Another point I’d like to make is that even if you live in a place where most people are treated equally, it doesn’t mean that everyone does.  Some people argue that feminism “isn’t necessary anymore.” Just reading the news should provide proof of horrendous atrocities committed against women and other groups whether based on religion, race, orientation. Just because you were never forced into an unwanted marriage doesn’t mean that other women aren’t. You were fortunate enough to choose your husband, and choose that you wanted children and marriage. Why do you have these rights? Because feminists fought for them. Women fought for them, men fought for them, housewives, CEOs, engineers, artists fought for them. We need to continue fighting for those who do not have these rights.

Anyone can be a feminist. You can be whatever type of feminist you want. What is important is that we do not marginalize each other based on what lifestyle we choose with our freedom.