I am a feminist not because of my femininity, not because I am a woman, not because I have experienced sexism. I am a feminist because women have been designated as objects, objects to be used, exploited, discarded. Objects worthy of attention only when it serves some other purpose, otherwise ignored. I am a feminist because women who fought for my rights are owed that much. I am a feminist because I have a daughter and will someday have a son, because I have a mother and friends, because I have a husband, because I exist in a world where women deserve respect.
I am not a feminist because women should be given special treatment, but because women have received special treatment: treated like special vessels, like warehouses for other lives, their own lives reduced to functionality; treated like special machines designed for limited use by men and passed along; treated like special prizes paraded in front of admiring crowds of other men to show their value, Blue Ribbon heifer. Women are treated especially badly when they demand better. Women are attacked in direct and subtle ways, expected to keep quiet and take the abuse. Told to smile by men on the street, gawked at while working an underpaid job alongside men who make more money despite doing the same work, discussed by other women because we’ve been trained to belittle each other for survival.
I am a feminist because life is not fair, but it’s fairer for some than others. I am a feminist because I want a better world for all women and girls. I am a feminist because I can see, I can think, and I can do something about it. I am a feminist today because I can hear what is being said about a “woman’s value”. I am a feminist today because I have seen the way lawmakers decide the fate of American women based on their male privilege paradigm. They don’t see a problem, they don’t see abuse because they are the ones who built the glass ceiling. I am a feminist today because women shouldn’t be stuck with what they’ve been handed by the patriarchy; we should control our own identities, our bodies, our fate.
I am a feminist because we all have a choice about how we treat each other and I want everyone to be treated with dignity and respect. This is 2017, this is the future we all believed would be better, this is our world to change and we owe it to our daughters. We shouldn’t have to fight, but we will.