Like many kids today, my daughters are very open minded. They believe everyone should be able to live their life the way they see fit, as long as they don’t hurt other people. They believe girls of their generation have the same opportunities as boys and understand it wasn’t always that way. They even believe that girls can BE boys if they choose, and vice versa. They go to a school where artistic expression is front and center and personal expression is encouraged and even expected.
My oldest brought up the subject of feminism the other day, and not for the first time. In this case it was by way of mentioning her friend who she described as an “out of control feminist, like she blames everything that goes wrong on sexism” and when she gave me examples, I agreed she was not out of line to be annoyed by it. My daughter then reminded me that she also considers herself a feminist, in that she thinks opportunities should be equal. And then the next sentiment made me especially proud of her: she realizes there is a difference between these two types of feminism, and is annoyed with the victimhood faction of present day feminism. I’m scoring that in the “Successful Parenting” column, thank you very much.
Historically, feminism has accomplished some amazing things for which I am grateful. Because of historical feminists, I am allowed to vote. I received a higher education degree. I began a teaching career, had babies and stayed home with them for an extended period of time, then went back to work in the same position earning the same pay as the men in my field. I later started a business. I can do my own banking, own a car and property. The list goes on.
I don’t even recognize most of what passes as “feminism” today. That is not to say I don’t think women still have complaints, including Americans in some cases, and especially women around the world who do not even have the right to walk in public without a male escort. I’m not discounting them en masse. I hope that someday they enjoy the same rights and freedom that women in America have.
But for my daughters and their friends, who are fortunate enough to be growing up in this country that is so far ahead on women’s rights issues than many other places, I have some advice.
Dear Daughters (my own and anyone else’s who want to listen):
Be the kind of feminist who:
- Appreciates what actual, rational feminists and historical feminists have done for you. They DID have to fight and sacrifice and put a lot on the line to gain rights, access, and opportunities for women;
- Works hard to be the best you can be;
- Is not afraid to compete and achieve at the highest levels;
- Feels confident being the highest breadwinner in the relationship… or not;
- Provides strength for your partner when you have it to give, and accepts strength FROM your partner when you need it (we are all the weaker one in need of support sometimes);
- Fights for your beliefs with intellect, grace and passion;
- Is respectful of all people and their own decisions, as long as they earn your respect;
- Chooses whatever path will make you happy and is best for you and your family-whether it’s the CEO track or the stay-at-home mom track (some women even do both in their lifetime). Both are valid, both are amazing, both are important, and both are available to you because of feminism;
- Is brave enough to put yourself on the line for what you believe, and to help others;
Do NOT be the kind of feminist who:
- Puts down people who do not agree with you;
- Argues your positions with irrational emotional outbursts and fake victimhood;
- Hates men. Not all (not the vast majority of) men are out to get you;
- Expects the government to provide for you;
- Cries foul, exaggerates or flat out lies to “bring attention” to your issue, especially if your issue is nonexistent or a myth;
- Demands someone else provide you a safe space to deal with your problems…or demands that others provide you anything you should be taking care of for yourself, for that matter;
- Needs trigger warnings related to things that didn’t actually happen to you;
- Uses menstrual blood for…anything, anything at all (that’s gross);
- Mindlessly promotes abortion as a “woman’s right to choose” what happens to “her own body.” Please, I beg you, at least consider this issue also in terms of what is really happening: ending the life of an innocent human being, who will never have the right to choose, never grow up to be like the amazing young ladies you are. At least have the class, decorum and humanity to consider this issue in those terms;
And just for good measure, if I catch you wearing a giant vagina costume, I’ll drag you home and ground you. I don’t care how old you are.
Go forth, young ladies. The world is your oyster. Be proud, be strong, strive to be the incredible people I know you can be. Own your problems and seek solutions. Always aim for greatness and learn from failure. Be tolerant and kind but do not get walked on. And be grateful for what feminism has done for you. You got this!