What It Means To Me To Be A Feminist

I've recently spent a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a feminist to me. In the midst of the #MeToo movement and these incredible changes we're seeing, I find myself wondering how I fit into this new picture. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm actually a feminist, or just a know it all (If you know me, you know I am both). I've always struggled with identifying myself as a feminist. I was raised surrounded by strong woman. My mother in particular, takes nothing from anyone, and I mean anyone. I was brought up with these incredible women that don't identify as feminists. Yes, my mother is strong, and she believes I deserve as much credit as my brothers, but she doesn't identify as a feminist. Growing up I heard feminist referred to as feminazis.

I believe in the freedom of choice, and equality, and respect. I believe that I deserve to make as much money as  any man if we're doing the same work. I think that my being a woman doesn't affect my qualifications to do literally anything I want to do. I believe that the right to a woman's body certainly can't be decided in a courtroom, and definitely not in a courtroom full of men. I believe that I am equal to my brothers, if not surpassing them (because I am my mothers favorite and that's the only thing that can truly measure success, right?). So why have I always struggled to see myself as a feminist?

Being a feminist has always had such a negative connotation where I'm from. The "loud" girls were spinsters that were barely liked and simply tolerated. I wasn't supposed to be smart and opinionated, I was supposed to be quiet and humble. That's honestly never been me, and that wasn't how I was raised. I call myself a feminist in a direct defiance of that idea that woman can't be strong and smart. I call myself a feminist because I am equal, and I matter.

I recently read a collection of essays by Roxanne Gay, called "Bad Feminist." This book was incredibly eye opening for me, and if you have questions about what it means to be a feminist, I would HIGHLY recommend this book. This book, for me, redefined what it means to be a feminist. It doesn't mean you're going to die alone (though I might anyways, because who doesn't like to be alone?). It doesn't mean that I have to stop being who I am fundamentally and only walk around in direct defiance of everything. It simply means that I recognize that I am important, despite the fact that I'm "just a woman."