What feminism means to me

As I follow the Women’s Marches around the United States and around the world today, I cannot help but reflect upon hundreds of thousands of people — likely millions — gathered in support of a just, equal society for all. I am proud of the women and men that are demonstrating peacefully, standing in solidarity for their fellow human beings.

But I also wish that I could have physically participated in a march. And that, dear friends, has spurred me to write, something that for me has always felt powerful and assertive and, in many ways, makes me feel connected to those participating in demonstrations today. My words are printed; they are permanent. And the permanence of my words feels like the promise of permanent change — the very goal of these marches.

But what also gives me power is feminism. I am a feminist. I believe in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s definition of feminism posits. I believe in a feminism that is inclusive of all women: straight, non-binary and LGBTQ+ women, women of all races, income levels, locations and circumstances.

I believe these things because I have felt the power in women supporting women, and I have seen how such support can embolden women to speak their minds, to own their bodies and assert their presence. I have come to believe these things because I have come to see their fruitful results.

So for me, feminism is not merely an assumed ideology or a lofty set of beliefs. To me, feminism is sticking up for your fellow woman, fighting not only for yourself but on behalf of your sister. It is empowering her, supporting her and pushing her to achieve her full potential.

It means securing the equality and liberties due to women of all circumstances without taking away from our male counterparts; it means serving as equals, knowing that there is enough of the proverbial “pie” to go around.

It means encouraging our mothers, sisters, friends, daughters and fellow women to respect their bodies, brains and hearts — and commanding others to respect them just the same.

It means teaching girls that they can do anything boys can, and teaching boys that being sensitive or contemplative is just as good as (or perhaps better than) being tough.

To me, feminism isn’t just about women. It’s about all of us. Because when one group succeeds, we all succeed.

XO,

Nicole

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