The Definition of Feminism

Equality as sameness does not exist and will never be attainable. We cannot make all people think, look, and act the same. We cannot level the playing field when it comes to talent, ability, and natural inclination. While we can change nurture, nature will always be a powerful player in determining where we end up – as individuals, communities, and society at large.

So what is feminism? The truth is that every word has two definitions, the one in the dictionary, and the one that we hold in our minds. The dictionary definition of a word is called the denotation. The personal definition of a word is called the connotation. Feminism is a word where the denotation and connotation can be very different depending on the person.

For one moment, I want you to think about feminism. What is feminism? What do feminists believe? Are you a feminist? How do feminists feel about women? How do they feel about men? Now, just as importantly, how do you feel about feminism? Do you hate it? Love it? Think it’s a joke?

You have just discovered your personal connotation of feminism. As a fairly traditional woman who has had some bad run-ins with older feminists who judged my dream of being a stay-at-home mom, my personal connotation is less than positive. Thankfully, I know that my connotation is not actually the definition of the word.

The denotation or dictionary definition of feminism is probably simpler than you would imagine.

feminism (n) – the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

Now, I don’t know about you, but I do believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. I also believe that this is something worth advocating for, politically and socially.

I am a feminist. I have always been a feminist. I still want to be a stay-at-home mom when I have kids, I still love wearing dresses, and I still own aprons. But I believe that as a woman, I should not have to live my life according to anyone else’s opinion or requirement. I believe that women AND MEN should not be judged regardless of whether they work and/or have children.

Some people believe that feminism is about leveling the playing field by pretending that men and women are not biologically different. The truth is that we are different. There will always be outliers – probably a lot more than we ever realized because of the stigma around being different – but there are biologic differences in the way that our bodies and brains work. Feminism is about leveling the playing field so that even though we are different, we can all choose what we want to do with our lives. Without judgment.

I am here to tell you that you can be a feminist regardless of how you want to live your life. I will not judge you if you are a working mom/dad, a work-at-home mom/dad, a stay-at-home mom/dad, or even a housewife/househusband. If you are happy with the life you are living, then I am happy for you. Please help me and other feminists promote the message that we all have the power and right to choose. Without judgment.

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