How To Be A Feminist

Feminism was once a movement that unified women; it empowered them to seek equality, to seek autonomy and to seek opportunity.

The beauty and power of feminism has been lost. It has isolated itself from the very women it claimed to support.

Modern feminism is no longer accessible to the everyday woman.

Feminism should speak for women. In order to be true to its own commitments, it needs to speak for ALL women; not just the ones it deems worthy.

However, the face of modern feminism has become one that many women can no longer connect with - or have become actively disengaged from.

In January, we saw the Women's March attempt to give many women back a strength and sense of power that had been lost in the current political climate.

This was a march for women, by women - yet it excluded a group of women it did not feel were 'appropriate' representatives of the feminist movement.

Pro-life feminists were told they were not welcome at the march.

Here were women who wanted to stand up and speak for their rights; as individuals, as human beings, told because of one single belief they held, their participation was not welcome.

Why is a woman’s opinion on reproduction the only determining factor as to whether or not she supports women's rights?

This was not a platform of debate about abortion. This was a coming together and a standing together of women; speaking out about the inequalities they face and unifying in the support and empowerment of one another.

Having one different viewpoint should not disqualify an entire group from participation.

How is that a reflection of feminism?

I am a strong pro-choice advocate. However even I can identify that I can support a pro-life feminist without supporting the pro-life movement.

The exclusion of pro-life feminists from representation at the Women's March was entirely reflective of the way they are viewed by the feminist movement overall; not 'true' defenders of women's rights and therefore seen as unworthy.

This rhetoric is seen again in the way we view many Muslim women who identify as feminists. These are women who do not support a misogynistic culture, who want freedoms and opportunities available for themselves and their daughters, yet because of their faith are seen to be adhering to a value set that does not align with the feminist message. And so, in many cases, these women feel isolated and excluded from the very same movement that is meant to be seeking their empowerment.

Similarly, many female Homemakers feel that this is no longer a platform that speaks for them. In choosing a traditional lifestyle of staying home, raising children and caring for the family, many of these women are seen as seen as reflecting a society that modern feminism does not appear to support; reliance on one partner for financially supporting the family, whilst at the same time dedicating themselves to mastering arts of traditional homemaking.

For some modern feminists, this seems to be a direct contradiction to where the movement should be taking women and as such, those who engage in this lifestyle often feel as though they are not 'feminist enough' - despite the fact that they have strong opinions on issues that affect women and may be encouraging and promoting positive change from the grass roots - within their own homes.

There is a popular hashtag on Twitter, #notafeminist, which highlights just how far removed many women feel from modern feminism.

They see feminism as something that speaks aggressively, does not listen, requires adherence to a strict code of conduct in order to participate and is not in any way something that allows their own voice to be heard. There is a perception that in order to be a feminist, you must be an angry man-hater, refusing to conform to any expectations and smashing the patriarchy with your every word and action.

This is the perception many women have of feminism; as something inaccessible and unsupportive of them and as such they fight to separate themselves from the same movement that helped ensure they can vote, have an education, have a career and many other rights that were previously denied.

This is not good for feminism and it can't be ignored.

We can't continue to operate under a model that is so strictly 'conform or quit'.

True feminists are true supporters of women. They do not berate or attack or drag each other down. They recognise and embrace one another's differences and unified, they stand together as a voice for women.

There is no one way to be a feminist.

There is only women, unified in their support of one another and their goals, seeking their fundamental human rights - together.

Samantha Johnson is a writer, a mother and a fan of facts, fiction, feminism and families.

Women's Forum Contributors
Women’s Forum Contributors are women from all walks of life who are passionate about bringing a truly pro-woman perspective to our public discourse.


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