I am a feminist.
I don’t hate men or burn my bra or refuse to shave my legs (though sometimes I’d like to).
I believe in equality, regardless of your gender.
It should be that simple, but for some reason, in our society, that’s not the case. We’ve made feminism into a dirty word, one we should be ashamed to associate with ourselves.
I’m not ashamed; I’m proud.
Justifying feminism has become a part of my daily life. I can ramble off the reasons feminism is still valid, necessary, and critical to our society in my sleep.
In doing so, I’ve come to one withstanding conclusion: ‘women’s issues’ do not exist.
Now, I should back up. I am not saying women are not marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against; we certainly are. The treatment of women, however, is not a women’s issue; it’s a human issue. Rape culture, domestic violence, pay discrepancies, and sex trafficking are not women’s issues. ‘Women’s issues’ do not affect just women, nor do they require the attention exclusively of women. As we assert our preconceived notions of the female gender, we simultaneously perpetuate the stereotypes of the male gender, forcing us into a binary which benefits no one.
From a young age, we are taught which gender we are supposed to conform to based upon our sex and exactly what belonging to said gender entails. Girls play with dolls, boys with cars. Girls are good at writing and reading, science and math for boys. Boys like sports, and girls like fashion. Women stay at home; men work.
My feminism hopes for a day when that is not the case, but unfortunately, my feminism is not our reality.
Our society creates gendered expectations for each and every facet of life, and religion is certainly no exception to that.
It’s no secret that religious organizations aren’t particularly known for their stellar treatment of women and those who do not conform to gender norms. Most religions are still male-run and male-dominated, which is something that I’ve had a great deal of trouble processing.
How does one reconcile his or her faith with the reality of how many religions treat gender?
I’ve found a great deal of comfort in the relationships women of faith have formed with each other throughout time, even if they are not granted a great deal of agency within their religions. When Confucian women were forbidden to have contact with each other, they developed a means of communication through their shoes. Jewish women came together to fight for their rights to religious ceremonies. Christian women work to increase our understanding of the portrayal of women in the Bible and form specific Bible study groups dedicated to understanding what it means to be a Christian woman.
Community, at least for me, is at the core of my faith, and knowing that women have created a space for dialogue and community for themselves and each other gives me hope.
It’s a notion that I wish would expand in our culture at large. I know I said that I don’t believe in ‘women’s issues,’ and that’s true. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t find value in collaboration and community among women. In fact, it is the only way in which we can progress.
If women are unwilling to advocate other women, why would anyone else?
Sabrina is a senior English major who spends quite a bit of her time in the Newswire office. She was a site leader for Alternative Breaks and works as a tutor at the Writing Center. In her free time, she likes to bake, attempt to play guitar, paint her nails, obsessively watch Scandal, New Girl, and Sherlock, and hang out in Ault Park. She’s mildly obsessed with scarves, baby animals, coffee, and basketball.