You'd think this would an easy one for me; someone asked me for my definition of feminism. In the past, I've undoubtedly used something along the lines of equal rights for women and men or equality among the sexes.
But this time, something stopped me. Maybe it was that the individual posing the question asked me for my personal definition - what did it mean to me? This is what I discovered.
Feminism: For me, it’s about women’s rights and women’s lives. I don’t want being a woman to mean a life that is somehow “less than” men’s. I want women to live without fear - of violence, of cultural norms that degrade them, of rigid expectations of femininity and masculinity. I want women to be able to pursue their dreams and follow their passions - not find themselves having to place limits on either. I want the little girl who will discover the cure for cancer to be able to get an education, not stay home so her brothers can go to school (I wonder, how many times we could have discovered the cures for cancer, et. al. if we had been educating all of the brain power that we had available - what might we have eradicated by now?). I want girls to know the thrill of winning a championship in sports and the comfort from teammates when that last win slips through through their fingers. I want women to have full and complete authority over their own bodies.
I want a place to work that embraces women’s lives, not one that tells them they can have it all, just not at the same time. I want a world where women’s leadership strengths - that are products of years of socialization - not just our lives by our mothers’ lives and our grandmothers’ lives and our cultural heritage - I a want a world that truly values what women bring to the table. I want a world of work structured in a way that acknowledges that both men and women have families and both men and women want careers and both men and women should be able to do both without sacrificing pay or promotions.
I have been driven from the beginning of my feminist identity by the realization when I got to college that I didn’t have to limit my dreams because of my gender and being pissed as hell that I ever thought that I did. Feminism for me is about women living their lives without limits.