Feminist. This word, this idea, this movement has really been plaguing my life recently. I’ve been trying to think of the first time I ever heard that word, and I can’t come up with anything before High School. I’m not even sure if it was that early. Actually, I think the first time I encountered it was watching 10 Things I Hate About You. I had a friend in High School that was a little more outspoken about women’s rights, but I never really took much stock in the whole concept. I always looked at gender from a Christian perspective, that women got married and had babies, and I never really wanted to “rock the boat”. Well, over the last few years, my boat has been rocked quite a lot. It definitely seems apparent that there’s a fresh wave of the gender equality movement, with new slogans, new spokespeople, and clarifying statements on what Feminism really is. And you know what, it’s fascinating!

I can honestly say that when I was younger, I definitely did not want to associate myself as a feminist. I thought it would make me seem like a bitch. I thought I would have to burn my bra and hate on men all the time, and I just didn’t want to do that. I like men! So what changed? Honestly, it was the Santa Barbara shooting that happened and the viral reactions that came after with the hashtag of YesAllWomen as women began to open up about how much fear we live in and the ideas of our chauvinistic society. It began to challenge what I just always assumed was normal life and I started to wonder what it would be like to live in a world where we truly were all equal.

From there, I’ve read countless articles, watched TEDtalks and documentaries, had multiple discussions with friends and acquaintances and have finally recognized that I am indeed, a feminist and I am not going to be ashamed of that.

I recently had the pleasure pain of a big internet fight between a family member and myself that included all of her friends jumping in on her side and my friends jumping in on mine. I’m not going to rehash the whole the thing, but I’ll say that their side was blaming the feminist movement for abortion and how that was affecting the crazy story that came out of Colorado not too long ago. While I can respect someone’s opinion on abortion, I have a hard time with someone blaming a whole movement because of one thing they’re against. I also have a problem with them spewing their opinions without thinking or caring about how they will affect and hurt people, how they will alienate someone, and without having any personal experience with the issues. Therefore, I commented. And started a war.

Ultimately, I know arguing on the internet is ridiculous. Nothing comes from it, and these people refuse to open their minds to any other sort of idea. They don’t want to hear someone out. They refuse to be compassionate with their words. The fight was fruitless. And in the end, I’m mad I played into their hands. I’m mad at even bothering. It breaks me to know there are women (WOMEN!) out there who are against their own gender having a choice. It breaks me that I can’t have a conversation with someone of my own flesh and blood without them trying to tear me down on this issue that I feel so much for. It saddens me that dialogue has gone the way of the birds, leaving people just hurling insults at each other, never actually listening to each other. It makes me want to give up hope on those people. It makes me fear them raising daughters. And hell, it makes me fear them raising sons.

I pray that I am never someone who won’t listen to someone else. I pray that I will always try and put myself in their shoes to understand. I pray that I will always be compassionate and soft-hearted towards people. I pray that I will always have strength to speak up on issues that impact me and that I hold close to my heart, but that by speaking up, I won’t hurt someone else. I pray that the fight for equality will continue forward, that I will be given the same opportunities as my male counter-parts. I pray that I won’t have to by hyper-aware anytime I’m walking down a street in the dark. I pray that I will always have a choice when it comes to my body, mind and soul. I pray that my voice will challenge with love and will comfort with grace. And I pray that as a feminist, my voice is never silenced.

“Feminist: A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

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