My biggest dream, outside of being a successful writer, is being a stay-at-home mom. If I weren’t so concerned about overpopulation, I’d want a half dozen kids, but because I believe in giving my children a future, I will settle for one or two, along with adopting a puppy and a kitten. I am a married woman, and was married just after my 23rd birthday – which, in this day and age, is rare – and I am always pleased to be able to call myself Mrs Shoop (rather than Ms Sarpkaya). I do chores around the house, and I enjoy making my husband dinner and doing things for him whenever possible. I have interests outside my husband, but I am interested in everything my husband does. I like knowing that I am pleasing to him, and even dress up for him. I am OCD about shaving and eyebrow plucking. I love wearing dresses. I love the colour purple. I let my husband pay for dates when we were dating because it made me feel special, and he still holds doors open for me because he likes to treat me like a lady, and I like to feel like one.
Along with all this and more, I am a feminist.
I’m not what most people would think of when they think of “feminist” – especially the “married at 23” part. There are lots of reasons that I could cite for dubbing myself a feminist, and the main one is because I value equality. Equality. I don’t want women to overpower men, or, as some anti-feminists claim, kill them all off. That is a different branch known as radical feminism. I believe everyone should have equal opportunities to succeed – not women over men – and I believe that everyone should get paid the same for the same work, be it men doing “women’s” work or vice versa. I believe everyone should be allowed to do what they want to if it is viable – women and men should be able to stay at home or work as it please them, and choose to marry or not without judgement, and to whomever they want so long as both parties are adult and consenting. I don’t believe all sex is rape, however I do believe in accountability and responsibility. I believe that “s/he was asking for it” is not an excuse, and I have more faith in men than to say that “boys will be boys” or that men cannot control their urges. I believe that anyone who uses that defense should be called out on sexism against men. It not only says men are little more than sex fiends, but discounts the suffering of any boy or man who is assaulted by a woman. I believe that it doesn’t matter if a person is a man, woman, or something in between or none of the above: if they want to have sex, and they and their partner(s) are safe and consent, then they should be free to do it, in as many ways as they want, and as often as they want, without shame or judgement, because it is no one’s business but their own.
People who claim to be anti-feminist often mean they’re opposed to radical feminism, and that’s understandable. I am, too. I don’t want to kill off all the men, nor do I want to outlaw marriage, or give women rights greater than those given to men. Feminism is none of these things. It is, simply:
- the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
That’s it. Really. Lots of different feminists believe in different interpretations, or might use different words, but that is the dictionary definition of feminism.
When I come across anti-feminist groups, though, they make me wonder. For example, I recently came across a Facebook group titled, “White Women Against Feminism”. Much of what I read talked about wanting to go back to the gold ol’ days, the sacredness of marriage, and the need in our society for “defined gender roles”. While I read, I wondered to what point in history these white (not black, not Arabic, not Asian) women want to go back to. Do they miss the nostalgia of the 1950’s, the Golden Age of Television, and the rule of thumb? What about the 1800’s, when women were woo’d and married before they were in their twenties? Maybe the 1700s, when they were burned at the stake?
Maybe these women would like to live in countries where patriarchy is the accepted rule, and women are chattel, taught only to obey. Perhaps they should move somewhere women have been known to be beaten and sent home to abusive husbands if they dare to raise their voices, and where bride burning is practiced. Maybe they want to live somewhere where rapists are forced to marry their victims, where women’s bodies are the property of the men who own them, and where sexual pleasure is forbidden women to the point where young girls’ genitals are mutilated to ensure their virginity and value on the open market.
Do they believe that women who want higher education and equal opportunity will learn their place? Do they believe every man and woman who believes in equality scorns family, love, and loyalty? Do they think educating women diminishes the education of men? If anything, it enhances it, because what else opens dialogue to learn better than more voices eager and willing to join?
Without feminism, where do these women think they – and our civilisation – would be?