Why My Mother is Not a Feminist
By: Laurel Haislip
One usually does not have enlightening experiences while doing laundry, which made this laundry day even more surprising. Home for the holidays, I pulled my new “Georgia Feminist” shirt out of the pile, ready to throw it into the washer. Excited about my newest (and most comfortable) purchase, I held it up for my mother’s shared approval. I was in for a shock.
“You bought THAT?” she exclaimed. “Why would you broadcast your feministic beliefs to the world?”
I should have known better. I should have known because my mother is not a feminist. Now before you start hating on my mom, allow me to tell you that she is a wonderful woman and is entitled to her beliefs as much as I am entitled to mine.
Much like my mother, many of those who are against feminism simply have the wrong definition. For varying reasons they were raised under the impression that “feminists” were bra-burning radicals who grew out their body hair and ran around ranting about the demise of the patriarchy. They believed that by labeling oneself a feminist, it implied a hatred of men. In previous generations, when women were raised to be proper ladies who kept their knees together, only spoke when spoken to, and lived primarily to care for their husbands, cook, and raise children, this reasoning aligned with the social structure. To stand out for your beliefs at all, much less against the men on whom your well-being depended, was risky and disrupted the societal order. Feminists in that time wanted equal access to higher education, voting, and ownership of property: all fundamental human rights by common definition. Then as well as now, feminists simply believed in equality for all people, not really such a radical idea after all.
Thankfully, times have changed. While women still have a long journey towards equality, they are no longer expected to wear petticoats and have a hot dinner on the table by 6 o’clock sharp. Now they are encouraged to attend college, vote in elections, and own their own homes and businesses. Feminists today are seen as complex women who are agents of change for the full capabilities of their gender. But as times progress, so must our perceptions. To label feminists as misandrists in the 21st century simply makes no sense. It is crucial that we see feminism, as well as all social and political issues, in a manner that is appropriate to current attitudes, behaviors, and goals. Failing to do so perpetuates a backward approach to change and stalls social progress.
My mother will always expect me to be a lady who is dedicated to her husband and raising her children, and I am happy to comply in that regard. I find it extremely easy, even empowering, to both cross my ankles delicately and wear my “Georgia Feminist” shirt. Displaying myself as a strong woman, comfortable in my own skin, in no way prohibits me from being graceful and elegant. Wearing my shirt means I am proud of how far our society has come for women, and I support the furthering of that change. It means I want equal opportunities for my children. It means I am proud to be a lady in this century: a time and place for individuality and fair play. So why do I broadcast my feminist beliefs? I do so because I am proud to believe in equality for everyone on our little earth. Even you, Mom.