Around a year ago, I wrote an article for Odyssey called “The F Word” but I felt compelled to write somewhat of an update here. In my previous article I wrote a lot about how feminism is not a dirty word, and the effects that the negative rhetoric of our society on rape culture. I reiterated my point over and over, and I think I need something a little more fluid. Without further ado…
Feminism. What does it mean? To put it simply, feminism is the expression of equality among the sexes. Men and women are equal. Right?
Then why is it, that when I tell people I am a feminist, they look at me with disdain? Why is believing in equality something that is so radical? Emma Watson makes it look easy.
In my opinion, the extremist feminists are the ones that give this radical example. They are “men hating” and “bra burning”, which is not the point of feminism. If you hate men, you are not preaching equality, and those “crazy feminists” are the ones setting the standard for the no-so extreme.
Thus, when I have conversations with some of my liberal friends they often tell me that while they believe in the concepts feminists talk about, they don’t identify with feminism. Why?
I’ve also heard the argument that we should change the word feminism to equalism– which I can understand. But my argument to that is, FEMINISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
This rhetoric around dirty feminism has nothing to do with what we are actually doing. Preaching equality, is not something that is men-bashing. I believe that I can do anything a man can do. I am smart, educated, and talented. Why can’t I be a doctor or a journalist? Why can’t I make the same amount of money as my male counterparts?
THAT is my goal. Wherever my career path takes me, I AM going to be making the same amount as my male colleagues doing the same job as me. I AM going to be worthy of my position, and I AM not going to stand for any different treatment just because I was born with a vagina.
Feminism is not a derogatory word. It is a safe word. Feminism means equality for the sexes. Simply, we are all equal.
Just because we have different anatomy, we are equal. We are powerful.
I recently had a chance to talk to Ellie Boothe, whom I met in a feminist club on my college campus. At one of our meetings, we talked about how Ellie is not only actively feminist, but she also identifies as pro-life. This is irregular in the feminist realm, simply because feminism is more aligned with pro-choice beliefs. My friends and I were intrigued, so I decided to ask Ellie a few questions!
Q: In your opinion, what does the term “feminism” mean to you? In my opinion, “feminism” can be defined as the equality of the sexes in social institutions including education, family, politics and the workforce.
Q: Similarly, what does “pro-life” mean to you? To me, “pro-life “does not end at being “pro-birth”. If an individual is to take the stance of being “pro-life” that individual must also be pro quality of life. Pro- life is more than just ensuring a child is born, but that that child enjoys a safe community, a quality public education and receives adequate health care regardless of the ability of the parents to provide these rights. If an individual claims a pro- life stance dedication to that life can not end at the birth of a child.
Q: Would you say that being a feminist conflicts with your pro-life beliefs? I do not say that claiming a pro-life stance conflicts with being a feminist. However, there are feminists who will make that accusation. I feel that the larger ideological umbrella of feminism, equality regardless of sex and gender, encompasses the pro-life movement.
Q: What is one thing you want the feminist community to understand about the pro-life stance?
I want the feminist community to know that as a member of the pro-life movement, my goal is not to end safe abortions to push women into unsafe and potentially deadly situations. Instead my goal is to ultimately end a need for abortion by perusing avenues such as effective sexual education, and access to family planning information and affordable birth control measures to prevent pregnancy, and, if pregnancy is not prevented, access to quality healthcare and general family welfare support after birth. I understand that to hold a pro-life view I need to be willing put forth my part in ending the need for the procedure by helping mommies and eventually adopting babies.
Q: What is your history with feminism, and also with pro-life?
I became a feminist in high school. I attended a rural high school in North Georgia where young women were repeatedly spoken down to and their opinions diminished. As I navigated conservative Appalachia, feminist rhetoric struck a chord with me. I sought feminist avenues while attending the University of North Georgia. I participated in the campus production of The Vagina Monologues for four years, serving on the board of directors my last year. In addition, I joined the club “ Dahlonega Feminist Egalitarian Movement “or “DFEM” my senior year.
As a child I attended Catholic school, which impressed upon me the sacredness of life from an early age. During high school, when I discovered feminism, I claimed to be pro-choice. I was a recovering conservative and wanted to be a cool liberal so I agreed with everything I thought would make me a better democrat. However, as I matured the holiness of human life was demonstrated to me repeatedly. As a college graduate, my stance as pro-life has been cemented.
Q: How do people react when they hear you are pro-life?
It depends on the social situation. In spaces such as a Vagina Monologues practice my being pro-life elicits surprise to say the least. Most feminists view being pro-choice a major requirement for identifying as a feminist so I usually encounter confusion and some negativity. However, in spaces such as church or family Christmas hearing that I am a feminist garners a negative reaction, so it’s a lose/lose.
Q: Are there any personal experiences you’d like to share that deal with being a pro-life feminist?
While not directly related to pro-life feminism, this experience altered the lens through which I view myself as a pro-lifer.
One of my best friends is Catholic. We were speaking one evening and I mentioned that I take an oral contraceptive for a pre-existing condition. Knowing I am pro-life, she noted that to her “I might as well have an abortion”if I were ever to be intimate with someone , as many Catholics believe that you are preventing life planned by God. I sat in stunned silence, feeling belittled and thinking that she made a ridiculous claim. However, upon further reflection, I realized that that is exactly how pro-choice women must feel in response to the pro-life platform. Since this encounter, I make a much greater effort to better explain my view without inadvertently making others feel belittled for their decisions or viewpoint, so we can reach a point of understanding.
Q: How has feminism affected your life? What is something you do in your daily life that stems from feminism?
Learning about feminism as a teenager helped open my eyes to large-scale institutionalized inequality. When I attended college I chose to study sociology to gain a better understanding of inequality in the world and how to diminish disparities between social groups. In my daily life, how I speak to and about other women has changed because of feminism. There are a lot of bad things that happen to women, my words should never be one of them.
Q: How do you feel about other women choosing to have an abortion, and thinking it’s the best option for them? (ie the baby having something wrong with them, or the mother could die giving birth, etc.)
I honestly hate abortion. But I will never hate a woman who makes that choice. In college I interned with a non-profit that worked with people with disabilities and their families. Every person with a “disability” that I know has a life with immeasurable value. Ability does not determine value. Every person has a gift to give and I believe every life has a purpose. I am not a mother. I cannot imagine the fear a mother must feel when she is told her child has not developed typically. However, I will do my best to contribute to providing resources for families with a member who is not developing typically. Quality, affordable healthcare and social support and both pivotal in the effort to end abortion as a response to having a child with different abilities.
I hope to God I am never put in the position to determine the course of action to be taken in a situation which could lead to my death in birth as a mother. I am in no position to criticize any woman who had to make that decision.
Q: What are your thoughts about Planned Parenthood and the other services it provides?
Other than abortion, I am supportive of everything Planned Parenthood does.
Q: How do you feel about sex education? For/against?
I am pro sex education. By effectively teaching young people how to practice safe sex you are effectively preventing unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and other unpleasant surprises.
Q: How does religion play a role in your pro-life beliefs? Do you believe in separation of church and state?
I would be lying if I said religion didn’t play a role in my pro-life beliefs. My religion plays a major role in all of my beliefs. In Psalm 139:13, David wrote “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers womb”. I feel that calls me to value life in the womb as well as life outside of it. Yes, I believe in separation of church and state. I feel that my role as someone who is anti-abortion is not to make all abortions illegal but to try to alleviate the need for abortion.
Thanks Ellie for your perspective! Remember to follow Ellie on Instagram.
Hello, my feminist friends! This week’s blog post is yet another collab with Annabelle! Check out her blog here. After writing our last post where we asked other bloggers why they were feminists, we got inspired to answer that question for ourselves!
But first, here’s a little sneak peak from Annabelle’s article: “I’m a feminist because I’m taught to never take drinks from strangers, as they could be roofied. I’m a feminist because I can’t walk home alone at night without worrying for my safety. I’m a feminist because men stare at my body instead of me. I’m a feminist because once when I asked a guy to stop, he kept going because he was “almost there…….”
Why am I a feminist?
I think it’s because I have never seen men and women as unequal. Thus, my feminist journey started at a very young age, I just didn’t have the words for it. I played outside with my brother and our friends, but I would also go inside and play with dolls. I was on sports teams from swim to flag football. I was, I guess, what you would refer to as a ‘tom-boy.’ Even the nickname itself is derogatory. I digress. I just never thought for a minute that I couldn’t do everything the boys around me could do– and I was right. As I got older and more politically involved, I’ve realized some things that make this belief even more pertinent in my everyday life.
First of all, the definition of feminism is: the advocacy of women’s rights based on THE EQUALITY of the sexes. WE ARE ALL EQUAL. However, it’s taken a minute for us to start making strides in that direction. For example, let’s talk about the wage gap. Women, on average, can do the exact same job as a man and get paid less money for it. Often, women in the work force are talked down to, interrupted, and not believed. Their skill sets do not matter, their education does not matter, their intelligence does not matter, all because we menstruate once a month. Now, don’t get me wrong, stay-at-home moms can still be badass feminists in their own right, because they are doing what empowers them! And guess what? Men can be feminists too.
I remember asking my dad (who is a very conservative person) if he was a feminist, to which he responded, “I don’t know about all that.” I said, “Daddy, if I had the same exact job as you and I did it just as well, do I deserve to make the same amount as you do?” To this he responded, “yes.” “Then Daddy, you’re a feminist.” But little did I know feminism was so much more than that.
I am a feminist because I believe in equality. I do not stand for condescending motions, and I will not in the future. Ever since I was old enough to put pen to paper, I’ve wanted to be a journalist. No, I don’t want to be the pretty face you see on the morning news, I want to be the one traveling the world reporting on crime and politics. I want a “man’s” job. But here’s the thing, I’m going to get it. I’m going to be a journalist one day in some form, I’m going to be one boss ass bitch. The world better watch out for me. And you can bet, if I don’t get paid the same amount as my male counterparts, there will be hell to pay.
Secondly, we need to talk about rape culture. “She was asking for it.” “What were you wearing?” All of this derogatory slander coming from the mouths of the uneducated. From my time of working with Rape Response, one thing I’ve learned is that is it NEVER the survivor’s fault. People like Brock Turner are being set free after raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster because Turner had “so much potential” and she was “asking for it.” NO. She was not asking for it, she could not even consent!
I am a feminist because I want to use my voice to change rape culture. I will not stand for this. When someone takes something so important to someone else away from them, without their permission, that in itself is horrible. Men can be sexually assaulted too. They are, in fact. I believe and support survivors. The conversation about rape culture has to change, starting with how women are looked at as sexual objects and not human beings. Screw you Brock Turner! There, somebody had to say it.
I am a feminist because I menstruate. I have a period, shocker! I shed my uterine walls and bleed out of my vagina once a month! I am not dirty. I do value hygiene. I wear pads. And guess what? Not for a second is that an unnatural thing, not for a second is that something I should be ashamed of. I am a woman, I can have children because of this! (Hopefully not anytime soon.) I am not afraid to talk about PMS, and in fact, I celebrate when I menstruate! My body’s a temple, and I will treat it as such. Every day, we fight the stigma around menstruation.
I am a feminist because I don’t want to rely on a man for a damn thing. Not for money, not for safety when walking at night, and not for an excuse to keep other men from undressing me in their mind. I am a feminist because I believe that wearing a tank top to school should not mean a change in dress code because it’s “distracting boys,” but rather that it should mean stricter education for young boys about how to respect women. I am a feminist because I believe in empowering women. I am a feminist because I believe in equality, and I have never looked back.
FEMINISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD. Say it. Love it. Embrace it.
While I guess you could say face-masks are not exactly, “feminist” in and of themselves, taking some time to show yourself some love is empowering and liberating for you, as a feminist! I know that I often put self-care at the end of my daily task list, and almost never actually get to it; but a face mask is an excuse to take at least 10 minutes to yourself!
Yes To sent me a bunch of stuff in the mail, but my favorite was the Yes To Tomatoes DIY charcoal mask! My skin is very oily, and it helped reduce those oils and revitalize my skin.
Along with the Yes To Tomatoes DIY mask, I also received:
Yes To Coconut DIY Mask
Yes To Cotton Comforting Mud Mask
Yes To Grapefruit Vitamin C Glow Boosting Mud Mask
Yes To Grapefruit 2-Step Face Kit
Yes To Coconut 2-Step Lip Kit
I can’t wait to continue trying all of these! I was pleasantly surprised with the masks I’ve tried so far– I generally try to use a face-mask once a week, or once every other week to rejuvenate my skin.
One thing I do LOVE about Yes To, is that they are cruelty free! They don’t test on animals, and for the majority of their products, they are vegan. Just perfect.
I highly recommend checking them out, and following them on Instagram: @yestocarrots. #YesToDIYMasks
Hello my feminist friends! My post today is going to feature some rad ladies who volunteered to answer the question, “Why are you a feminist?”
But that’s not all!
I’m working in collaboration with my gal Annabelle, and you can check out her blog here. We reached out to friends and other bloggers to tell us a little bit about why they are a feminist. And guess what? This is only part one!
My next blog post will also be a collaboration with Annabelle about why WE are feminists, so stay tuned for that! For now, here’s a sneak peak…
Katiee: “I’m a feminist because first and foremost, I believe in equality. I believe in equal wages, equal rhetoric, equal dress codes, and equality in the workplace. I believe in ending rape culture. I believe in de-stigmatizing the period. I believe in women. I AM A FEMINIST.”
Annabelle: “I’m a feminist because I’m tired of seeing only men being taken seriously in the workforce. I’m tired of seeing women disrespected not only in the workforce, but also in the bedroom and in the streets. I’m tired of having to explain what consent is and still seeing girls raped and sexually assaulted. I’m a feminist because I believe in a woman’s power, even if others may not.”
Something about feminism is that everyone becomes a feminist based on different experiences they have. I’ve learned a lot from these ladies and their powerful language about feminism, and how they started being a part of the movement for equality.
First up, is Nicky Jacks!
“I’m a feminist for a seriously long list of reasons. The main being that I don’t want anyone in this planet’s level of success to be determined by their gender or the gender they choose to identify as.
I am a feminist because it genuinely makes me want to tear my hair out that the first question women are often asked when they have been raped is ‘what were you wearing?’.
I am a feminist because a natural bodily function such as menstruation should never make a woman feel dirty, embarrassed or weak. And I don’t want those woman who don’t menstruate or are unable to conceive to feel like failures either.
I am a feminist because I want to feel respected by the men i work with and claim to be my friends. And I also want them to feel that expressing emotion the way I do does not make them weak. It makes them human, just like me.
I am a feminist because when I go out I don’t want to rely on the ‘I have a boyfriend’ excuse to keep men undressing me whether that be mentally or physically.
I am a feminist because as a black belt in Taekwondo I find it offensive when I am told I punch or kick ‘like a girl’ as if it’s an insult.
I am a feminist because if I hear someone telling me to take catcalling as a compliment one more time I might scream.
I am a feminist, because I want everyone to have control over their bodies, identities and the path they choose to take in life.”
“I am the granddaughter of a Nazi hunter and the first female head teacher of a secondary comprehensive school, the niece of one of the first female graduates of the prestigious Liverpool university architecture school and the daughter of the first female union representative at the Bank of England.
My father told me that I could be the best at anything I tried. I grew up on a horse farm and I saw that it was possible every time I competed against the boys in my contests.
I will never be able to thank them enough.
My family was ‘weird’ by most standards. A drag queen, a pro domme, a male feminist…they taught me that I could be me.
When I left home in 1993 a new distraction entered the mix. Boys. My father had just died and I wanted something that they just couldn’t provide – security. I had to learn to provide it for myself.
I was a feminist in the 90s. That was quite rare back then. We dropped the ball. We thought we had it all figured out. To be fair, things were very different back then. We took control of our sexuality. I remember walking back to my flat after a one night stand. I felt like I owned the night. Not now. Not at all.
As the new millennium dawned things seemed to shift. We wanted to be ladylike. Why I do not know. I even wore a girdle. I was thin as well. I voluntarily put my body in a vice.
My single friends started to notice a change.
Sex was demanding. The old ritual of unwrapping and missionary style sex the first time flew out the window. That’s tough as you approach 30. Porn had upped the ante… I’m sex positive but who doesn’t want to feel cared for the first time?
During that period I was trying to forge a career.
I was really competitive with men at work – because I looked young and liked fashion I was perceived as being lightweight and silly and I had to work twice as hard…but I would put my boobs on a bar to get served first.
Part time feminism at its best.
In 2010 I found out that I was pregnant…and I fell apart. I became a stay at home mum for a while. I hated it. I couldn’t win. I didn’t excel at all.
Ironically I really became an activist then! I realized that I could use my skills to generate awareness and change things for the little girls I adored. Actually I realized that I had to do that.
I did it in an odd order – body positivity, anger about pay inequality and the fact that mothers become invisible, hitting my sexual peak, the breakdown of my marriage, working with sex workers, drag queens and a man in the process of transitioning to womanhood – they all contributed.
Then my marriage imploded – and I had to become independent and provide for my family.
It’s been quite a journey. And a bumpy ride.
Motherhood changed me and feminism is amazingly valuable to mothers. Every single one. From the sexual act to the actual life you lead afterwards.
Contraception, consent, conception – all are political acts in a small but highly meaningful way to woman. The choices we have in life are limited by a lack of socioeconomic parity and the fact that men still control our bodily autonomy. We need more representation and we need to be taken seriously. We aren’t now and I’ll damn myself if I don’t do everything I can to change that for my daughters.
That’s why I’m a feminist.”
Hello lovelies! Today for my “make a change” post, I decided to talk about a cause that also aligns with my intersectional feminist beliefs; FEM Project.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a FEMbassador, meaning that I am an affiliate of FEM Project. However, the reason I got involved with them all has to do with social media and my never-ending Instagram obsession.
Before I delve into all that FEM entails, I thought I would share my period-horror story to combat the idea that menstruation is “gross” and “unnatural.” This is a part of who women are (and other’s that menstruate) and is a normal part of life!
When I was in middle school, I attended a Valentine’s Day dance lesson, essentially just a partner dance class. A boy I liked was supposed to meet me there to dance with me, but he never showed up. When I went to the restroom later that night, I had a new friend. SURPRISE! My period had arrived. I was so embarrassed, and had to call my grandmother to come get me. She helped me and gave me feminine hygiene products as well– which is the most important thing.
Thus, let me tell you a little bit about FEM and what they’re doing to make an impact in the Los Angeles area. Hopefully they will continue to grow!
FEM’s mission is to destigmatize the period and empower women to own their femininity! (YES!) They do this by supplying menstrual products to women all over LA. Their fearless leaders are constantly working to make a change, and empower women to own their femininity every month– one tampon at a time!
Feminine hygiene products can cost up to $70 a year, and without them, women risk getting infections as well as habitual discomfort. FEM works to provide women that can’t otherwise afford these products with them, while also battling to change the conversation about the period.
Since getting involved with FEM, I’ve met so many feminist-frands and became part of a rad community of people fighting the period stigma!
The FEM community is filled with headstrong mama’s that have come together for this cause. I reached out and asked some of them why they love FEM–
@amy.moralesp: “I love that I’ve been able to forge friendships with some of the raddest people ever.”
@a_nnabae: “I love being a FEMbassador because it’s introduced me to an amazing group of empowered, kick-ass girls. Plus, it’s amazing knowing that I’m helping girls get the tools they need to prevent their period from interrupting their daily life. Tampons and pads are far more important than people realize.”
@venejasco: “I love being a FEMbassador because it signifies that women are now becoming more comfortable with talking about their period and body. We don’t care how it makes others feel because it’s normal and a part of our anatomy. It feels good to be amongst women who stand up for this and this and that we are able to give back to our community and women in it.”
@kate.ripley: “The FEMproject has been so much more than I ever thought it would be! Everyone is so friendly and the LA group is full of bad ass babes doing bad ass things. Everyone is so supportive and the goal of this organization is so kind and needed. I’m looking forward to being more and more involved as I continue to help plan period parties and meet ups!”
@ailirene: “Something that originally attracted me to the FEM Project is how this organization and platform honestly interacts with fem and period stigmas. I especially like the emphasis on homeless women, particularly in Los Angeles. Growing up as a lower-SES person of color in a small town on the port of LA—where the statistics on homelessness is consistently high—I have developed a huge heart for homeless individuals, especially women, in my area. I have worked in partnership with various organizations to aide individuals with various necessities, however, I would like to join a movement specifically working with women. I am passionate about social issues. I am passionate about individuals. We so often overlook the people around us and I am grateful for organizations like FEM Project, who are actively working to make a much needed change. I want to be part of this change.”
And, one of our fearless leaders, @isabel_fields: “Every cis-female (and others) gets their period; it isn’t weird or abnormal, in fact it happens every month like clockwork. There is simply no reason women should be made fun of, ostracized, or told that they are less because of the normal act of menstruation. Why is the fact that I’m bleeding out of my vagina weird? FEM bridges the gap between homeless women, by providing them menstrual care, and those with the ability to give back, by allowing them the opportunity and platform to not longer feel ashamed. FEMbassadors bring this opportunity to their communities bringing everything full circle! Truly, FEMbassadors are the heart and soul of FEM!”
Make sure to follow these lovely ladies on Instagram!
The stigma around menstruation creates a derogatory conversation that the ladies of FEM are trying to bring an end to by providing feminine hygiene product to homeless women in LA; however, you can get involved as well! If you follow one of the links below, you can find out how to set up your own “period party” where you package and deliver tampons and pads to local women’s homeless shelters in your area!
I’m proud to be a part of FEM and host my first period party sometime this summer. Let’s change the conversation, and have a celebration of menstruation!
A little while ago one of my roommates told me that her friend was shooting for a project called, “The Naked Lady Project.” These portraits are about empowering women; all body shapes and sizes, this concept is about being inclusive and was tastefully presented.
Lauren, the artist behind the project, got approved by our university to display her art in our library, and while it has only been up for a few days, it has already started a conversation we should not even be having.
There are rumors that certain offices are trying to have the project taken down, and Lauren herself is aware of two official complaints that have been filed to the university.
These portraits are about empowering women in their most authentic form. Not only is the community trying to get Lauren’s photo stripped from their display, but social media has also had it taken down. Facebook and Instagram have both gotten her posts about the project taken down, and even my Instagram story about the project was removed for not “following community guidelines.”
I’ve also noticed throughout Instagram that pretty often photographers censor their photographs so that they won’t be taken down. This in and of itself is extremely frustrating to me. Having to censor your own works of art, because the “community” finds it offensive/inappropriate?
Here’s the thing: women’s bodies are BEAUTIFUL. NOT SEXUAL. They are only sexual if you make them, and by making them sexual you are objectifying women and THAT IS NOT OKAY.
The concept of Lauren’s art is beautiful. Promoting positive self body image is wonderful, and if you have a problem with it look away.
I guess I understand maybe not wanting small children to see aspects of the female anatomy that they don’t fully understand yet, but in a college university setting? Why would any small children be outside of our IT office in the library? Maybe they are, I don’t know.
But the fact that this project is being taken down on social media, fought against by the university, and laughed at (YES LAUGHED AT) by the students is disrespectful and by doing so these people lose the message this art is trying to send.
We are looking at Lauren’s art, not hyper-sexualized pornographic images. We are promoting positive body image, lifting up the strong women who posed for these portraits, and appreciating/empowering women as a whole. NOT sexualizing them, NOT objectifying them, and NOT disrespecting them.
I encourage you to share about Lauren’s project, show that we support this concept and appreciate Lauren and all the hard work she’s done on it. This conversation is important.
Let’s change the rhetoric around the sexual-nature of women’s bodies, starting with the planting of this seed.