Last Saturday, I posed the question “what does it mean to be pro-choice?” Today I want to ask you all what feminism means to you.
I first started calling myself a feminist when I was fifteen. This was back in 1995, and it was my sophomore year of high school. In 1995, Hillary Clinton spoke before the Beijing Women’s Conference and boldly declared that women’s rights are human rights. I remember thinking, “uh, yeah they are.” And I bravely stepped where no one in my family had stepped before – the feminist movement.
Back then, I defined feminism as equality. I used to think that equality and feminism were “the radical notion that women are people.” I still think that, but my interpretation of feminism has expanded, although the definition is still the same.
Let’s limit our discussion for a minute to talk about what feminism means in terms of relationships and housework. If everyone is equal, everyone in the household should chip in to do the chores. I think that housework should be negotiated. No one should default to doing something simply because “that’s what men do,” or “that’s what women do.” If one partner is a good cook, it makes sense that the other partner should do the dishes. If someone finds their zen with a vacuum cleaner, then someone else should volunteer to do the laundry. This is how my partner and I split things up when we decided to move in together. We negotiated our roles, how our money would be spent, and how we would take care of the house. Those roles get renegotiated when something isn’t working out right. And you know what? We never fight.
This is only one example of how feminism makes a difference. In my opinion, believing in equality and calling yourself a feminist means that you have to incorporate it into your daily life. The way you treat people is just as important as having a woman run for president, or having domestic partnership benefits at the federal level.
What’s your opinion about feminism? How do you define feminism? How does feminism get enacted in your life? I’d love to hear from you.
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.