I am a mom of two sons. I am a feminist not because I hate men, but because I love them. I am a feminist because that will make my sons better, stronger, more moral men. I am a feminist because I want my daughter in-laws to be strong, independent, educated, happy women. I want my grandchildren to be raised believing that the world is their oyster and they deserve it… No matter their gender.
Raising young men to believe that they are entitled to rape and disrespect, and slut shame women is raising young men who will have troubles in all aspects of life. Feminism gives them the gift of a life they can be proud of.
In spite of what some might tell you, feminists don’t desire to disparage men. We desire to stand with them equally. We don’t dislike men, distrust men, or lack desire for them in our feminism. In fact, by demanding equality and independence we are free to make the choice in our relationships. This means that instead of being bound to men by fear and force, we are bound by love and devotion. When we choose to be in families and relationships with men, when we are free and able to go whenever we want but we choose not to, we give men a kind of love that misogyny cannot imagine.
In fact, if you think about it, since women want to be equal to men, every time we ask for a right or demand an opportunity, or fight for our own value… We show that we expect the same thing for men. That’s what equality is, wanting to have the same rights, the same opportunities, the same intrinsic value.
The thing about rights, is that mine can’t take away yours. My rights end where yours begin. Of course, by asking that we both have the same rights, that means that we take nothing from each other. We simply ensure that we both have what the other has got. Therefore, feminism isn’t about bickering over who gets a bigger piece of the pie. It is deciding to build a bigger pie, and cut it down the middle.
Real feminists may be educated and aware of the fact that the majority of perpetrators of violent crime against women are men, they may know that men make more money for the same work, they may know that men are allowed sexual freedom that women don’t get, they may live under glass ceilings with men above them… But they also know that blaming men won’t fix this. We have to move past blame and on to solutions and no matter how you slice it, bigotry against men is not a solution.
We must recognize that the true beauty and power of our roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives lies in the relationships we have with our fathers, sons, and husbands. Feminism demands respect from both halves of this partnership for it to work.
Feminism is holding fathers up to the standards of love and nurturing and compassion that we expect from mothers, giving them awesome opportunity to enjoy their own children and fulfill their own lives beyond the restrictive expectations of patriarchy. Feminism makes for better dads, better sons, better daughters, and yes better moms too, because it gives every member of the family high value, it makes everyone know they deserve to find their best destiny, it puts the burdens and opportunities of life on everyone’s shoulders equally.
Feminism is loving our sons so much that we hold them accountable for their actions in life and love and even lust. It means that we love them, and we teach them to be good men who respect women by being good women who deserve respect. It means that we expect integrity from them, and give them the opportunity to deliver it too. By telling our daughters that they are good and that they are expected to do good things and have good things… that they are granted the same inalienable right to happiness as their brothers we also show our sons the same lesson about their sisters. Nobody loses anything. The pie just gets bigger.
Feminism is living with our husbands and partners in such a way that both are free to experience life to the fullest with love and support and safety. It is giving sometimes and getting others. It is recognizing that the burdens of work and home are supposed to be halved by partnership and that every couple must divide the load in their own way. Sometimes this means daddy stays home while mom works. Sometimes this means mom stays home and basks, with full enjoyment, in being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. There is nothing wrong with that. I think it can be beautiful to do diapers and mop floors and cook suppers. That is a gift of love both genders should be free to offer their families.
I hope that if I can lend anything to the feminist movement, it can be this message. No, I will not stand for rape culture. No, I will not allow for slut shaming. No, I do not approve of unequal wages or sexual harassment or glass ceilings. No, I cannot abide by stalking or sex trafficking or domestic violence. No, I have not forgotten that men are the statistical perpetrators of these crimes or that women the victims.
But, yes, I know that feminism must remember that to fix this problem, we must not only fix women. We must fix men too. We can’t just give respect, and opportunity, and the expectation of an awesome life to women. That won’t stop the crimes or hurt or brokenness within our society. We must also give respect, opportunity and the expectation of an awesome life to men too.
I am a feminist, not in spite of loving the men in my life, but because of it.