International Women’s Day (AKA Why I am a Feminist)

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
– Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

I am a feminist.

When I tell people this, I get many reactions. People roll their eyes, state that feminism is passé, tell me I can’t be a feminist because I care about what I look like and that I love my husband. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just like the quote above, being a feminist means I support women, and that all women should be treated as people. People who have the same choices, options, and freedoms available to men.

I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman. 
– Anaïs Nin

I believe that a woman can be a feminist and still care about fashion and beauty, love men, love taking care of her home and her family. As a feminist, I believe I am a person – I deserve to do what I want, say what I want, enjoy what I want, and love who I want.

You don’t have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. 
– Jane Galvin Lewis

I married a feminist, a man who sees women as people, finds me to be his equal, and we enjoy a great friendship and partnership.

I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing. 
– Gloria Steinem

I enjoy fashion, and find it to be an art form as well as a way for women to express themselves and gain self-confidence and self-love. Every woman is gorgeous, clothing helps them showcase their internal as well as external beauty.

Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress. 
– Coco Chanel

Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day celebrates women’s successes across the globe, but also reminds us all of the inequities that still exist.

From the International Women’s Day site:

The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”
– Clare Boothe Luce

I find that younger Americans feel that feminism is dead, or should be. They feel that women have become equal – they are now CEOs, astronauts, running for office, and Secretary of State. However a recent study showed that female surgeons make on average $27,000 less per year than their male counterparts; the White House stated earlier this year that women in all levels of education still make 25% less than men.

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. 
– Lucretia Mott

In other countries, rape is still used as a weapon of war, and women are often seen as property. We women need to support one another, educate one another, free one another. Feminism isn’t hairy armpits and man-bashing, it’s treating humans – all humans with the respect they deserve.

Today I ask you to start with yourself. Respect yourself. Be proud to be a woman, and of all the accomplishments you have made.

We have to have faith in ourselves. I have never met a woman who, deep down in her core, really believes she has great legs. And if she suspects that she might have great legs, then she’s convinced that she has a shrill voice and no neck. 
– Cynthia Heimel

You are beautiful, and so incredibly talented. Honor yourself, and all that you accomplish. Know that who you really are is amazing, and should be celebrated.

We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done. 
– Wilma Mankiller

We women often feel it is wrong to be proud of our accomplishments, take time out to pamper ourselves, seem the slightest bit selfish. However when you care for yourself, you are showing others that you deserve such care. You show subordinates at work that a woman can love herself and climb the career ladder, you teach your children that a woman can be smart and strong and still be true to herself and a great parent. When you love and respect yourself, those around you realize it and give you more respect.

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist. 
– Sally Kempton

And take the time today to support your fellow women. Mentor an intern at the office, send an email of encouragement to a local female politician, teach your child about a famous female trailblazer, donate your time or money to a program that promotes support for women in your community or another part of the globe. Doing this will help fellow women, but also make you feel even more amazing and strong than you already are.

I can promise you that women working together – linked, informed and educated – can bring peace and prosperity to this planet.
– Isabel Allende

Follow Me | Twitter | Facebook

  • This is an amazing post, maybe one of my favorites that you’ve ever had. I definitely consider myself to be a feminist and try to raise my kids with those ideas. I love that we as women can be strong and beautiful and smart and that there are so many wonderful women out there who exemplify that. Too often we try to be one thing or another, but today is a wonderful day to remember that we can do what we like and look gorgeous doing it.

  • Feminism should be about giving women the freedom to choose without judgment. In the early days of the movement, there were many angry feminists who promoted the idea that you couldn’t be a feminist and still love men. Others made the choice to work outside the home the obligation to do so. So, it got pretty messed up for a lot of people. In my opinion, the choice to be yourself, including embracing personal style as a way of artistic expression is a wonderful thing and in no way is inconsistent with feminism.

  • I love this post. It often shocks me how many of my strong independent female friends don’t consider themselves feminists for the reasons you describe (ie. feminists hate fashion and men). I don’t know when the word gained such a warped meaning but it’s time to take it back!

  • I agree- I love this post!!!

  • I remember my very first notion of feminism was when my mom told me that she was a feminist, and that yes, feminists could wear lipstick and be married. I had no concept of feminism at that point–much less stereotypes about feminism–but it was baffling to me that a) not everyone was a feminist! and b) people thought that female equality somehow meant “no lipstick allowed.” Honestly, I still find those things very perplexing. 🙂

    Great post!

  • Love this post! And it may make me take on the title of a feminist. ;0] In truth, I think of myself in the same terms that everyone should be equal but I would rather be called an “equalist.” I know that in my college, most of the feminist are as you described them not being. Some have the notion that every woman should work and throw away the role of being motherly, no matter their personal feelings on the matter. I believe that everyone has a choice to be who they want to be – men, women, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, etc. I like your definition of feminist a lot better and I love this post!

  • This is a great post – thanks for writing and sharing, I had the shivers 🙂

  • Great post! Also reminds me that I’m looking forward to the day when the thought leaders of a major political party in this country forever stop using the word “feminazi” to describe strong, powerful, confident women.

  • I love this!
    I guess I am a feminist too. I have always shied away from the label though because people have so many views about what that phrase means and I didn’t want to be incapsulated by it. Yet I grew up surrounded by strong women and have always strived to be one myself. None of my dreams have been contingent on a man’s permission or support although I love my husband and appreciate men.
    I remember being a kid and listening to my mom & stepdad talking with a few couples they knew. The conversation would always get heated at some point because one guy thought the women should take the secondary role in the conversation. Needless to say, my mom would share ideas (like an equal) and eventually this guy would say “You women and your feminism!” I didn’t know what it meant but I’d smile knowing the debate was ON! Then I’d hear my mom call him a chauvinist (another word I did not know but knew it would provoke a reaction) and the yelling would begin. I found it entertaining…

  • I grew up thinking a bad term for folks was for them to be a “male chauvinist pig” though I really didn’t know what it meant. I think back to a time where I told a boy on the playground he was a male chauvinist pig because I thought it was the very worst thing I could call him. I wonder if he went home and asked his parents what it meant!

  • BRAVA!! Love this. Fantastic quotes, too.

  • Thank you Allie.

  • I had a job interview yesterday at a small company (cross your fingers for me) where the owner is a young woman. I loved that and loved the company.

    Yet, I heard Gloria on a show the other day saying that 2 percent of women are CEOs. 2 percent!!

    Wonderful post.

  • Thank you Allie.

  • I love this!
    I guess I am a feminist too. I have always shied away from the label though because people have so many views about what that phrase means and I didn’t want to be incapsulated by it. Yet I grew up surrounded by strong women and have always strived to be one myself. None of my dreams have been contingent on a man’s permission or support although I love my husband and appreciate men.
    I remember being a kid and listening to my mom & stepdad talking with a few couples they knew. The conversation would always get heated at some point because one guy thought the women should take the secondary role in the conversation. Needless to say, my mom would share ideas (like an equal) and eventually this guy would say “You women and your feminism!” I didn’t know what it meant but I’d smile knowing the debate was ON! Then I’d hear my mom call him a chauvinist (another word I did not know but knew it would provoke a reaction) and the yelling would begin. I found it entertaining…

  • Love this post! And it may make me take on the title of a feminist. ;0] In truth, I think of myself in the same terms that everyone should be equal but I would rather be called an “equalist.” I know that in my college, most of the feminist are as you described them not being. Some have the notion that every woman should work and throw away the role of being motherly, no matter their personal feelings on the matter. I believe that everyone has a choice to be who they want to be – men, women, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers, etc. I like your definition of feminist a lot better and I love this post!