I know that it’s a bit out of vogue to be concerned about human rights and still label yourself a feminist, so here’s a short statement of why I describe myself as a feminist.
Feminism is a lens through which I see the world. I see gender issues as an underlying problem for many things.
For instance, the rise of HIV infection among black women is a feminist issue. It’s an everyone issue, but because it affects women we don’t hear about it as much in the mainstream. Additionally, the rising number of so-called “missing girls” in various cultures is related to the fact that female children are seen as detrimental to the family as a whole and even if a girl is born, the family will be unlikely to school her, continuing the cycle of women being burdens, not partners.
I am a feminist because this shit matters. Because women are not the other. Because children should not be valued differently because of their gender. Because every step for equality everywhere benefits everyone who falls outside the norm, and I see feminism as a way to raise awareness of it.
I am a feminist because I want to be treated like a person, which in the culture in which I live means a white, cisgender male. It shouldn’t, but it does.
Being a feminist to me is not an exclusive limiting label. It is expansive, and covers many things. It is how I see the world. When we take half the population of the world and say “You too are valued and can contribute to the world however you want” how can we as a species fail? When we remove societal barriers of gender in business, science, math, nursing, homemaking, teaching, and politics, we cannot lose and everyone benefits from the wealth of experience that people bring, regardless of gender.
For me, the lens of feminism is a hopeful one and one that can hold so much promise. What’s more, we’ve only begun to see the progress.