What I Want My Daughter to Know About Feminism

by - February 21, 2017

A letter to my daughter about feminism:

I hope one day these words I've written will no longer apply, but until then I hope to instill in you these important, fundamental beliefs.

To be female is to be feminist, even though many women will adamantly say that they are not a feminist. To them I say being a female but not be a feminist is ignorant. It's like saying, "I'm a woman and I don't want to be on an equal playing field as men."

It is equally as ignorant to say that women have the same rights as men in this country. While that may be technically true -women can vote, own their own business, and run for office after all - women and men are not on equal ground when it comes to almost anything. Women make on average 75% of what a man makes doing the same job; only 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are run by women, which is an improvement from 20 years ago when that number was zero; and only 105 of the 535 members of the 114th Congress are women.

Just because you, personally, don't feel oppressed as a woman, doesn't mean that inequality doesn't exist for hundreds, thousands, even millions of women elsewhere. I, personally, have not felt oppressed as a woman, but then again I haven't been denied a job or promotion based on my gender; and I haven't been personally affected by movements to limit access to birth control or the right to get an abortion. But growing up I did feel that oppression when my grandparents let my brother and male cousin go outside to play but I was expected to stay inside and do housework with my grandmother all because I was a girl. It's actions like those that cause little girls to think of themselves differently and to believe that they can only do "girly" things, but let me tell you something, baby girl. Just because men and women use the bathroom differently doesn't mean they should be treated differently.

Just because you weren't born with a penis doesn't mean you are any less capable. In fact, you are just as capable as any man in whatever you set your mind to. Maybe more so. But it is important that you understand how much harder you may have to work to achieve the same levels of success that men do.

It's also important that you understand the emphasis other people will put on the way you look. But whether you choose to dress up or down or a combination of both, make sure you're dressing in a way that you like. And while the way you dress, fix your hair and do your makeup (if you so choose to wear it) will make a big difference in how you're treated, don't you ever let someone convince you that the way you dress or fix your hair or do your makeup could ever be the reason why a man makes unwanted sexual advances on you.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly - you don't have to be a hardcore, man-hating member of a women's march to be feminist. It's enough to simply believe that women deserve to be afforded the same opportunities and successes as their male counterparts.

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