How this pro-life, stay-at-home mom became a feminist.

Hi there! Yes, it’s been ages since I’ve updated this blog. Apart from child-rearing, writing, editing, designing, and (sometimes) housework, I don’t have time to blog. But this is one of those cases in which I need to have more words than a Facebook post to get my point across. This is me, “coming out” as a feminist, since many of you don’t know that I am, don’t know how I could be one, or don’t know what a feminist is. If this is Feminism 101, I’m merely a T.A.
Actually I’m more like a first-year student that writes allocutions on the chalkboard before class.
 
feminist
 
This post sat in my drafts pile for months because I didn’t want to have to deal with all the trolls, the hate, the threats, or the rest of the “consequences” that come simply from identifying as a feminist. But fear from truth is what keeps ignorance and hate at large. This is what is true for me.

what being a feminist isn’t

“For me feminism is bra-burning lesbianism.”—Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice), not an expert on feminism.

—being a man-hater

Misandry is the hatred of men, like misogyny is the hatred of women. Just because one is a feminist, it doesn’t make that person a man-hater. Women in healthy, loving relationships with men can be feminists. So can men be. Read on.

—being a woman

Men can be feminists, too. Joss Whedon is commonly referred to as a feminist. Any father who loves his daughter is likely a feminist, whether he’d admit it or not. (I can’t blame you if you don’t adopt the term. It’s become it’s own F word. But I can blame you for propagating misinformation about feminism. And if I see it, I will call you out on it.)

—being pro-choice

Let me go on a quick tangent really fast. Stay with me. Most of the world have gotten to the point now where they realize rape is a crime against women because it is an act done without consent.

And yet we assume it’s the woman’s choice if she ends up in prostitution or has an abortion. How do you feel about a person who assumes a rape victim “wanted it” or “asked for it”? It’s impossible to get accurate statistics on these numbers, but most prostitutes were forced into the profession through the sex trade. And many women who get abortions are coerced into them, either by family, their significant other, or their community. Even religious beliefs. Girls get abortions so they won’t be shunned by their church for having a child out of wedlock. Minnesota For Life surveyed women and found 64% of abortions were coerced. If you know better statistics, please share. Obviously those are biased.

Many feminists are pro-choice because they fight for women’s rights to control their own bodies. I’m a pro-life feminist because I think that abortion clinics take advantage of women physically, emotionally, and financially. I view abortion after 6 weeks gestation as mutilation of a woman’s uterus (and also as murder of an unborn child, but that’s not what we’re discussing here). If you are pro-choice for the reasons I listed above, do what you can to ensure that you are also pro-consent. Volunteer at an abortion clinic and encourage the women to make their own choice, whether it is for your way or another.

If you are pro-life, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You’ll find that sometimes the choice isn’t as easy as you might assume. Learn to love women whether they choose your way or not.

We are all in this together. Feminists, this is a war for our consent. Pro-lifers, you cannot be pro-life without being pro-mother. Are you prepared to care for the mothers and children that choose life? How are you helping mothers and children NOW?

—being a Democrat

There are feminists in every political party, but Republicans are less likely to use the term “feminist” for fear of its consequences, as well as the assumption that it means they must not be Republican / conservative / manly / Christian. I’m neither party, in case you were wondering. Again, that’s another issue we won’t be addressing here.

—having a romantic attraction to women

Being a feminist doesn’t make you a lesbian, gay, bi, or trans* individual, but anyone can be a feminist because being a feminist had nothing to do with sexual preference. It has everything to do with enabling women to live freely. (Does that mean the same thing as living lawlessly? No. We live in a free country. Do we live in one without laws? Ha. Hahahahaha.)

what being a feminist is

A feminist believes that women shouldn’t live in fear of being a woman.

my journey to becoming a feminist

1. First Grade

I had an evil first grade teacher who introduced me to sexism. She (yes, she was a female-hating woman) would give us math assignments and would give whoever finished first a bag of fruit snacks. If I finished before J.D., a bucktoothed boy that she adored, she’d ignore my raised hand, wait for him to finish, and give him the fruit snacks. This is also the source of my problems with authority.

2. Learning there are more women representatives in Middle Eastern parliaments than in the US congress.

We hear a lot about women’s rights in the Middle East. Most would assume that women have fewer rights in the Middle East than they do in the U.S. So why is the U.S. so behind on having women representatives?

Now, if you’d have asked me five, ten years ago if I would have voted for a woman politician, I would have made a joke about her period and said no. What if she had children? Shouldn’t she be raising them?

What about women who aren’t raising children? Who are empty nesters? What about women who, like me, are thinkers more than feelers, whose maternal instinct manifests in protecting, rather than nurturing, children? The kind of woman who’s really a much better parent if she gets some time without her kids.

And then I considered testosterone, the main hormone in men’s bodies, and wondered if we wouldn’t go to war on a whim if we had a president that didn’t have so much testosterone in her body.

If you are a woman, don’t you want women representing you? If you are a mother, wouldn’t you want mothers representing you in congress, making the kinds of decisions a mother would make?

I am SO glad the Middle East has women representatives. But doesn’t it bother you that the US is ranked 86th place in terms of female representation? Afganistan is 41st. Iraq is 53rd. Pakistan is 73rd. Saudi Arabia is 76th. But here we are, a first-world country with women CEOs running multimillion-dollar companies, and fewer than 20% of our congress is female. Congress should reflect its population. That number should be 50%.

3. These Disney board books.

I got these for Champ when he was a baby, before I identified myself as a feminist.

It made me really angry that the books about male characters were all about their personality and their abilities, but the only thing about the female characters mentioned was that they were pretty and that they fell in love.

Yeah, I want to be pretty. I am madly in love with my husband. But I have interests, a brain, and a soul apart from that.

4. The Transformers movie.

If you’ve seen the first Transformers movie, you’ve seen Megan Fox draping her scantily clad body over machines. Now, I’m not mad at Megan Fox. As far as I’m concerned, women can do whatever they want with their own bodies. I am not okay with slut-shaming.

What I have a problem with is that Megan Fox’s character was reduced to the level of a hot car. Something to drool over, touch, and (if Sam Whitwicky’s mother was right) probably jack off to.

Objectification of women. Everyone should have a problem with that.

5. Jesus was a feminist.

During Biblical times, men really treated women as objects. They were considered possessions, less than human. Jesus spoke to women all the time—something no one else ever did. He even spoke to prostitutes (gasp!) with respect (bigger gasp!). He treated women as if they were human beings, as if they—like men—were children of God.

The Bible is full of sexism, sure. It’s not a guidebook on being holy so much as a story of how God loves his people, even though they mess up and are terrible 99.99% of the time. That’s the gospel. That’s the whole point of the book. And don’t rule out the brilliant women of the Bible Deborah or Jael or Esther or Ruth or Mary or Rahab or Miriam or Abigail…should I keep going?

Bonus: Do you know the definition of an apostle? It’s a messenger. In the context of the New Testament, it’s someone who spreads the good news of Christ. Who was Jesus’ first apostle? Who did he pick first? (Read John 20:17-18)

I didn’t become a feminist overnight. I’ve been a feminist my whole life. I just didn’t call it feminism. I didn’t call it anything.

things that make me more feminist

  • Outrage at comics doing this.
  • Dennis Hoffman’s explanation of what it felt like to play a woman in Tootsie.
  • #YesAllWomen on Twitter
  • #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft on Twitter
  • People blaming victims of rape, prostitution, or domestic abuse while ignoring the criminal’s responsibility to not be a rapist, pimp, abuser, or murderer
  • Stupid articles like this one written by people who have no clue what feminism is, but still argue that it’s terrible.

Feminism isn’t about women wanting to be men. It’s believing that all people have the right to give consent, and acknowledging that women in particular are taken advantage of, harassed, and abused by people. It’s a movement against the sex trade and against rape culture. It’s a movement against other people assuming they have some sort of claim over a woman’s body. It’s rejecting the idea that men should define a woman’s worth.

That’s all I’ve got to say today. I welcome all comments that are thoughtful and not personal attacks, whether they agree with me or not. Know that I vet comments and will delete abusive ones.


 

Update, Q&A

I’ve had people ask me a few questions about the relationship between being a Christian, anti-abortion/pro-life, and feminist. I’ll try to answer those questions here, but if you have more, ask in the comments!

How do you define your terms?

Feminist—Feminism is about consent. I’m a feminist and will continue to be a feminist until every woman feels that she has the right to grant consent, the right to disagree with a man or refuse his advances without being attacked verbally or physically. It’s not a matter of whether a woman will be harassed in her lifetime, it’s a matter of when. That’s a problem. To ignore that problem is to be part of the problem. As a feminist, I am pro-woman, anti-rape, anti-trafficking. I’m not anti-man or anti-men. I’m married and have two sons. I love men, and I want to empower them to empower women so women can feel safe.

Pro-life—In my blog, if I say I’m pro-life, I mean I’m against abortion and for taking care of people. I use “pro-life” broadly, not politically. For example, I’m fine with people using birth control, and I do think that condoms and non-hormonal methods of contraception should be widely and easily available for everyone. “Pro-life” for me includes suicide prevention, humanitarian aid, and war prevention (I’m idealistically anti-war, but realistically pro-military-defense. Pro-negotiations, if that makes sense).

ChristianThe word “Christian” has become just as badly tainted as the words above. I use it in the historical sense: I’m a Christian because I am a Christ follower. I wasn’t always a Christian. I was a searching, agnostic. Every belief system has weird stuff, but the Judeo-Christian beliefs make the most logical, social, emotional, and political sense to me. Nothing else satisfied my need for answers more. Now I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the savior foretold in the Jewish heritage, that he died as an atonement for my sins, and that if I make him both my savior and my lord, and I strive to be like him, then I will be saved from judgment. I think the Bible is true and inerrant, but that people misinterpret it all the time, so we need to bring logic and a contextual analysis of scripture when we determine what it means. For me, blind faith isn’t faith, it’s complacency. My relationship with Christ is a constant struggle, like the image of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32.

How can you be anti-abortion and a feminist?

Because I am pro-woman and pro-person.

I’m against abortion because a beating heart is life, and abortion ends a life. Abortion affects two lives, minimum. It ends one completely.

Abortion is a huge problem. But calling for the abolishment of abortion, without preparing to care for mothers and children, without having those programs already in place, is also a problem.

How can we end abortion?

If you want to end abortion, donate your time and money to helping mothers. If motherhood were easy, no one would get an abortion. People get abortions because motherhood is very, very difficult without support. And the government doesn’t make it easy to be a mother even with support! Vote for candidates that will fight for maternal leave. The United States has the worst stance on parental leave in the world. Zero weeks paid leave in the US means that women lose their income (if not their jobs) simply for choosing not to have an abortion. Seriously, call your representative now and tell him or her how messed up that is.

Pregnancy resource centers always need donations and volunteers. But women in your neighborhood can use help, too. This is something everyone can do, and it’s something everyone can do, right now.

So what are you going to do about it?

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Fighting for Girls’ Sake

There are plenty of YouTube videos, books, and articles on the topic of misrepresentation of women in media.

Ralph Lauren Photoshop Disaster

Ralph Lauren Photoshop Disaster

Think about the average portrayal of a woman in an advertisement or television show. She’s anything but average. She’s probably a size zero, and that’s all we notice about her. Appearance is what’s important—not who she is, what she does, or what her talents or skills are. Granted, the media is primarily visual. Humans are primarily visual. First impressions are usually made based on appearance. But what is bothersome is that appearance seems to be the primary focus, and that even women who are intellectuals or are extremely talented are judged by what they look like.

I’m guilty of putting appearance first, too. It’s a sickness, and I’m trying to get better. Awareness comes first.

Recently I watched a video commenting on media’s portrayal of women, linking that to the pathetic representation of women in the US Congress.

I’m pretty traditional. I’m a stay at home mom, and I think that children need their mothers when they are growing up. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should have women in congress, representing 51% of the population of our country. Absolutely not. I think congress needs women and mothers of grown children representing other women.

A woman that I highly respect, who was my English teacher in high school for the better half of three years, recently posted that video (warning: includes graphic, sexual images of women) with an appeal to her Facebook friends to discuss how we can change this problem of misrepresentation, more deeply, the problem of girls being “taught” by media that they are only worth their dress size, and that women are valued by appearance, not ability. Here was my response. I’d like to hear your thoughts as well.

Sesame Street and the American Girl company were both good influences in my life growing up. The American Girl BOOKS, though. The dolls harbor materialism in young girls, just like any other commercial toy.

Language is huge—we have to change the way we speak to change the way we think, and vice versa (You taught me that, Keri, when we were reading 1984). We can’t focus on girls’ appearance FIRST, if we mention it at all. All girls want to be beautiful, and we can help them to feel beautiful, but we need to tell them and show them that beauty comes from truth and reality, not deception and fantasy. I always loudly comment on a photoshopped image of a woman when I see one in public.

I rip ads out of my magazines; we don’t have cable so we don’t see commercials. We need to change the way both boys and girls think.

I’ll annoy my children by constantly reminding them that the point isn’t to have a boyfriend or girlfriend—it’s to create a partnership with another person. I hope that my marriage will be the prime example to my children how men and women should treat each other.

Parents can change the world, but parents are too often replaced by media. If you are a parent, fight for your right to be your child’s parent.

I’ll also subject my children to Bollywood movies, so they see healthy actresses like Aishwarya Rai, whom I consider to be the most gorgeous woman on the planet.

Click through for source.

Brief Interlude: An Appeal from Bewildered Mother

Related to this issue of how we view women as a society is the extreme problem of human trafficking in the US. “Human Trafficking” is the politically correct term for “sex trade” or “children sold into slavery so perverts can rape them.” YOU CAN HELP to protect and save children in the US by donating to Gracehaven or Love 146. LT and I donated last year, and we did again this year. It’s tax-deductable, too. We donated through the Comic Creators for Freedom Drive. The drive ends Tomorrow, January 20th! Please consider donating to the drive, or individually to Gracehaven or Love 146 (click the links to find out more information about each organization). Either way, 100% of your funds will be donated—it won’t go to administration or anything. At the very least, start talking about Human Trafficking in the US. Awareness is the first step to any radical change, and change happens one person at a time.

What are your thoughts? What can we do to raise girls (and boys) differently? What are your favorite articles, books, or videos on the subject?

Note: Out of respect for my other readers, please give a description of any link you post, and let us know if there is any questionable content in the link, otherwise I will edit your comment to include one.