I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.
Yesterday during school we were reading a passage that used the word feminist and my nine-year-old daughter asked me what it meant.
I find with most things in life, the simplest explanation is usually the best. I told her that feminism is the belief that women deserve to be viewed as fully human and not seen as inferior to men in any capacity (socially, politically, economically, or personally).
She was confused. Not that she didn’t understand the words I said, but legit perplexed that people don’t already accept this as fact and there needs to be a word for it.
|Agent J, channeling her inner Hulk|
Of course, she understands history. We’ve talked about what things were (are) like in this country and around the world, specifically regarding the rights of women and girls, both in the past and present. She’s mature enough that we can have a serious conversation about inequities. It’s not that she doesn’t get that the world treats some people better than others for reasons that aren’t reasons; she does.
But still, her gut reaction was how is this not just recognized as normal?
For now, I’m sparing her most of the unfair and misrepresented rhetoric that often comes with the term. But I realize that a full appreciation for why we still need feminism is an issue we’re going to have to tackle sooner rather than later.
What she needs to know in this moment, however, is that her humanity, her life is just as important and valued as any other person on this earth. That all people deserve equal rights. That everyone—regardless of what gender they identify as—is worthy of dignity and respect. And we need to continue to strive to treat all humans decently and fairly because it’s the right thing to do.
That, my dear, sweet child, is what feminism is.