I really hate to break it to you, but you are. Or most likely are. But I’m not about to tell you what you are or are not, I’m going to let words and their meanings do that instead.
The word “feminism” was first used by a French philosopher in the late 1800’s, when describing women’s relationship with social and political status. Since then it has tailed along side the Suffrage movement and carried throughout the second wave and it now it’s become quite the buzzword. While the feminist movement has been gaining traction and support in light of a political uproar (the orange man) and with ongoing discussions (intersectionality, sexual violence, etc), it’s still such a dividing topic. Even though most every person within Canada or America would give the concept of “equality” a thumbs up, we still can’t seem to team up behind one movement. This is all due to bad connotations.
They’re all lesbians.
They complain about non-issues
They’re gross and hairy
Gross? No. Hairy? Some.
They hate men.
Here’s the deal. Movements of great importance always contain members that don’t have it quite right; and people screw up! Sometimes we phrase things wrong. Sometimes we change our minds. But just because a cause is made up of flawed people doesn’t mean we have to throw the baby out with the bath water. To further explain, I’ll use a parallel that also pertains to my life. I’m not only a feminist but a Christian as well, which many think are mutually exclusive, and while I have many things to say about that I need to save it for another post. Even though some think Christianity and Feminism have zero to none in common, that isn’t true. To stay very specific, let’s just look at the language. Feminism, as discussed, has a black and white definition but with all the varying opinions it appears much more grey. Christians are united by a single belief which is designed to make us objectively good people but because we’re are inherently flawed it has seemed to create a much more extreme binary. Either you’re a saint or a hypocrite. Historically Christians have screwed up and misinterpreted the Bible pretty severely (the Crusades), and because of this, we now carry connotations as well.
They don’t understand science.
They’re so condemning.
They love Trump.
They hate Muslims.
They hate gay people.
The sad truth is some are, some don’t, some can be, some do, some do, some do. This is not an excuse for hateful and hurtful behaviour but it’s just to highlight the fact that while you’d think loving God would cause all people to reach the same conclusion about everything, that’s impossible. Everyone’s relationship with God is on a spectrum and with elements like your economic, political, geographical background, trauma, and current circumstances, it’s unrealistic to expect every single, complex and unique individual to have black and white answers for everything. I believe some Christians have interpreted certain issues incorrectly, but I have enough grace to not write them off because of it. And I’d hope that those who think I have it wrong give me enough grace to listen anyways. Civil discourse is so important (as I’ve previously discussed) and I think we should enter into discussion and debates with the intention of listening and hopefully leave with more understanding from the other’s perspective.
I understand that by calling myself a Christian I may be taking on thousands of years of other’s mistakes but it would be silly and unproductive to call myself exclusively a “Jesus Follower” or another synonym for Christian. I will continue to call myself a Christian because that describes what I am and even though I don’t like a lot of the baggage that comes with the word it makes it my responsibility to reclaim the label and represent it accurately and lovingly. Feminism has a hand on so many different issues and there’s lots of differing of opinions throughout the community and there’s room for choice. That’s what it’s about: equality and the right to choose.
Speaking of choice, I should probably address something. A huge reason why so many in the Christian community do not support the feminist movement is because it is loudly pro-choice. Please don’t let that count yourselves out. Just like how I still choose to participate in Christian circles even though it can be anti-immigrant and homophobic. We are imperfect people but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be working towards a greater good. Feminism supports child care, challenges beauty standards, fights for indigenous rights, supports the disabled and people of colour. Feminism fights against sexual violence and assault. Feminists fights for the people Jesus would have talked to at the well. Feminism fights for immigrants and representation of all people. Feminism is greater than the sum of its parts.
At the end of the day labels aren’t everything but they help us define ourselves and support causes we believe in. I believe in Jesus and am a Christian. I also live in Canada, and am Canadian. I love dogs and I’m a dog person. I go to fashion school and am a fashion student. I support women and the rights of all people. I’m a feminist. And you probably are too.
All the best,