Occupation: Philanthropy Consultant
Any other relevant tidbits you’d care to share: My husband and I chose a completely new last name upon marriage, rejecting the patriarchal norm to assume the husband’s family name and upholding the right to rethink tradition as a feminist Christian couple.
How do you define feminism?
At its core, feminism is the radical idea that both men and women are fully human and therefore should be afforded the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. Women and girls cannot fulfill their potential if they are not safe from domestic violence and sexual exploitation, are discriminated against in their workplaces and education, and are objectified rather than valued for their innate dignity as women, as humans. (I say God-given because I am a Christian. And no, that is not an oxymoron.)
When did you first identify as a feminist?
During a family vacation in second grade, I overhead the word “rape” on a Jerry Springer-like show. People were shouting and arguing with one another, repeating this word I had never heard. I asked my mom what it meant, and she calmly told me that “rape is when someone forces you to have sex with them.” After getting over the eight-year-old giggle mentality at hearing “it” – sex – I began to wrestle with why someone would do that. Fifteen years later, I am still wrestling with it, but now I do so as a feminist.
Has your (definition of) feminism changed over time? How?
When I first began uncovering the “great conspiracy” (as I call it) of women being subjugated and exploited by (mainly) men throughout history and across cultures, I was angry. I was angry at the perpetrators of injustice and those who did nothing to stop it. But anger alone doesn’t solve the problem. We need to be empathetic, hopeful, inclusive, and persevering, which is why I finally felt at home in feminism when stumbling upon Gloria Steinem’s infamous words, “Women’s liberation is men’s liberation, too.” It wasn’t – and isn’t – about a zero sum game for power between men and women; it is about elevating both women and men to live without the constraints of the past that stifle our potential.
Have you ever experienced resistance to identifying as a feminist? If so, why do you think that is and how do you handle it?
As a millennial, I am acutely aware of how many in my generation feign allergies to labels of any kind. Just as we are “spiritual,” but not religious, we are for equal rights between men and women, but do not identify as “feminists.” We’ve also lost perspective on how hard our mothers and grandmothers worked to enable us to accomplish an exhaustive list, such as play sports, go to college, participate in voting, be protected from sexual harassment in the workplace, and control our reproduction and sexuality. When someone says, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then defend a pro-woman stance, such as equal pay for equal work, I tell him/her: “That makes you a feminist.” We need to own it.
What do you see as the future of feminism?
One of the lasting effects of the recession in the United States is the realization that a gender-stratified workforce is unsustainable in a changing economy. Traditionally male-dominated sectors such as construction and manufacturing are moving overseas or becoming defunct, while health care, education, and other traditionally female-dominated fields are growing rapidly. For the first time in our country, more women are employed than men. Yet, these women are also the primary caregivers of children and homemakers. Within the next few decades, I foresee a seismic shift in our workplaces: flexibility is in, traditional hours are out. Internationally, I see women becoming more empowered to make educated, informed decisions in their families and communities to wage peace and promote health.
Danielle is a recent graduate and newlywed working in the philanthropy sector. She blogs about marriage, feminism, and faith at from two to one, and is especially interested in developing relationships among other self-identified feminists who practice their faith traditions. Connect with her via her blog or LinkedIn.
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