On March 14 an essay was published on theodesseyonline.com by Amanda Sankey entitled “I Am Not a Feminist and That’s Okay.” I encourage you to go read it—not only because it will provide you with context for the conversation that I’m about to have but also because Amanda is a bright and talented writer and deserves to have her work seen. As a fellow writer and a Feminist, I work to encourage other women to do the work that they love and get credit for it. So go over there, click that link and give her some page views.
Amanda starts out her essay by saying that many people have tried to educate her on the topic of Feminism and she’s not interested in what they have to say. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me if she doesn’t read this, and that’s okay. But this isn’t necessarily about her as much as it is about the people in my life who feel the same way that she does.
Every day I read a dozen essays, articles, tweets, whathaveyou that I disagree with and I let them pass by without comment. I’m not usually the kind of person who writes back.
But something about this piece struck me—and the reason that it struck me is because I relate to it so much. Because when I was in college, I could have written this piece exactly. Because I live in Central Kansas where I could not throw a rock in a crowd without hitting someone who feels exactly this same way. And I’ve devoted a large portion of this blog to giving a voice to what every day, small town, Midwestern feminism looks like in real life.
Also, I took a very quick browse of Amanda’s twitter account and found this tweet which leads me to believe that she and I have a lot of common ground.
There are a few different ways that I would love for my life to emulate that of Taylor Swift’s.
It’s going to be hard for me to write up a list of things that I agree with Amanda about, not because they’re hard to come by but because I can’t just quote 75% of her essay can I? A quick list of things that I and any other feminist would agree with:
“I’m all for equal pay.” Yes.
“You don’t submit to your boss. You don’t submit to your boyfriend. You don’t submit to your brother.” YES!
“And women are not lower than men… God loves me equally to how he loves the man that I will marry.” Preach it sister!
“God did make women as fragile beings. But He also made us as strong beings. As capable beings.” Yep! Yep! Yep!
“It is okay to believe in traditionalist values. It is okay to believe in God and what He has taught us.” Absolutely! Yes!
So then what’s the issue? Why can’t you call yourself a feminist? Because these are all the key and central issues that me and my best friends all adhere to as well.
Early on, there is a portion that reads, “it is completely okay to choose to stay home and be a mother because that is the hardest job in the world. It is okay to like cooking. It is okay to take care of your husband and children. It is okay to want your boyfriend to ask for your father’s blessing before proposing to you. It is okay to take his last name. Feminists wouldn’t have you believe these things.”
And I’m with you sister, up until that last sentence. Wait—what? Feminists wouldn’t have you believe these things? Sure they would. A jerk wouldn’t have you believe these things, that’s all. We have bigger fish to fry. Figuratively and literally as some of us really like to cook.
I’m not a mother so I can’t speak to that. But I love cooking and baking. You can’t take a cursory glance at my Instagram account without seeing something that I have slaved over in the kitchen. I love it.
And caring for my husband is one of my favorite things to do. I took his last name because I wanted to be a part of him—I wanted to be identified in the same tribe as him. I love to bless him and make his life as easy as I possibly can. Because I love him. And I am a feminist. I am a solid, unshakable feminist.
And I am not alone at all. I have so many feminist friends who don’t work outside the home. I have so many feminist friends who are raising so many kids that I really can’t even keep track of them all. I have devout, bible believing friends who are raising up feminist boys and girls because they believe in equality and freedom. But then, I have atheist friends who are raising up feminist boys and girls because they believe in equality and freedom. I have devout, religious friends who are living a life of singlehood and independence. I have atheist friends who are living a life of singlehood and independence. I have married friends who are living a life of independence and freedom. And they would all identify as solid, unshakable feminists. I promise you. We are free to live our lives however we want to and we work to make sure that others can live their lives however they want to so long as oppression isn’t on that list.
And here’s why—because feminism is rooted in freedom. Freedom. It is not rooted in not staying home and baking cakes–going out into the world every day and lighting fires. It has nothing to do with the lifestyle that you choose. Except that you get to choose your lifestyle.
Unless all of us are free, none of us are free. It’s easy to feel like since I don’t feel enslaved, no one else is. But we know that slavery exists (in so many different ways) and we are here to fight that. We know that domestic violence exists and we are here to fight that. We know that genital mutilation exists and we are here to fight that. We know that there are girls who miss out on an education simply because they’ve started menstruating and we are here to fight that. And I don’t know you, Amanda—but I feel like I can very safely assume that your heart would be on the front lines along with mine and those of my sisters on these issues, too. Feminism doesn’t begin and end at equal pay or even the few issues that I just mentioned, here. Feminism begins and ends at freedom.
You ended the title of your piece with the phrase, “…and that’s okay” and that is the root of feminism. You have found it and you are living it. Freedom. You’re allowed to be whoever you want to be and that’s okay. You don’t even have to recognize that you’re a Feminist but I’m going to claim you, anyway. Because you are a strong woman who clearly has a heart for speaking up for not only herself but for her brothers and sisters. I’m sorry on behalf of the people who misrepresented this idea to you for so long but I hope that you’ll keep up the good work of allowing yourself and encouraging others in this world to be whoever they are and whoever they choose to be—even if they want to be feminists.
Amanda, you may never, ever see this and that’s okay but so long as you continue to preach freedom, I’m behind you. And many of my feminist sisters are behind you, too.
3 thoughts on “You Are a Feminist and That’s Okay: A Response to “I’m Not a Feminist and That’s Okay””
Libby, This is so beautifully and perfectly written! I hope she does read it and see your wonderful loving spirit in it. I loved reading it. LOVED.
I had some similar thoughts as I read her piece, but I have to say that my stomach churned when she got to the submission part. I need more context and interpretation to truly say how strongly I disagree with her, but “submit to your husband” certainly interferes with the freedom of choice I value as a Feminist. Certainly, my husband and I “submit” to one another after a fair and balanced discussion of any given issue. But there is no part of me that wants full responsibility or to hand over full responsibility for the decisions in our life together.
I love the way you addressed this. And I really hope she does see it, because I’m sure she’s seeing a lot, and probably a lot of it is creating a greater divide in her understanding. But you’re so delicate and embracing.