Thursday, April 04, 2013

small forms of feminism

Feminism is a label I struggle with more than I'd like to admit. At the simplest level I identify as feminist because I truly believe that all people are created equal, and that the shape of our chromosomes shouldn't dictate how we are treated by the world and I have an issue with the fact that right now it does. What I have a hard time with is feminist expectations and how to reconcile living a life that will make me happy with a life that fights for equal rights and freedoms.

When I fit so easily into the model of the woman who cooks and cleans and sews and would be happy to be a stay at home mom it becomes even more important to do the small every day acts of equality.

Things like holding the door open for a man, when I happen to reach it first. (Seriously, the stunned looks I get at this blow my mind.) Having entertainment expenses come out of my part of the budget, so I get to be the person to whip out the debit card when we're out and about. Making Bunny take an active role in the work of changing my last name.

It's challenging the men in my life to think about the inequalities in a world. Making sure that they know that yes, sexism exists and it affects me and it affects them and it is real and problematic. It's calling them out if they say sexist things and getting them to think about their assumptions.

It's making political statements, and supporting women's rights by writing letters to my political representatives and voting with equality as a key issue. It's being aware of other forms of inequality and speaking up about them, especially when they don't affect me.

There are others, of course, things that I do and things that I don't do because they don't feel right to me. Some of them come naturally, some I stumble across and make my own and some that I try on for size and end up keeping up with. The little things matter and they count. At the end of my life I don't necessarily expect the big obvious acts to point to the fact that I'm a feminist, but I hope that when people see the small acts, the everyday ones that matter to me, that they make a difference.

What are your quiet acts of feminism, the ones that aren't large and obvious but you hope make a difference in people's lives?

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