top of page

If Feminism Offends You, Maybe You've Never Been on the Receiving End of Inequality

We all walk through life gathering a variety of perspectives because our experiences and interactions are not identical to everyone else's. These diverse lenses are what make life rich and full when we can stretch to see beyond ourselves. But these diverse lenses are what also lead to disagreements because it’s frustrating when others don’t feel or see things the same as we do, right?

Black Lives Matter (BLM), LGBTQ, and feminism seem to exhaust some people. I've seen eyes roll in frustration. Some feel views are being pushed on them and too much talking about equality makes the world feel forced. The same people who are tired of these inclusion conversations often haven't been on the receiving end of injustice or experienced the subtle or outward blow of feeling less-than.

Even when it’s stressful, it’s our job to listen to arguments from others that challenge us. It’s our duty to walk humanity through obstacles and hold ourselves and each other accountable instead of assuming others are being dramatic and whiny.

When people have been treated unfairly, they’re going to speak out, thank goodness, and maybe it will become exhausting to hear, but why not let that exhaustion push us all to action and show up for each other?

If everyone had always chosen to stay quiet and submissive out of fear of being annoying to others, think of where the world would be. I wouldn't be writing this now because I wouldn't have been allowed to write simply because of having a dang vagina.

Since I’m not Black or a member of the LGBTQ community, I can only truly speak to my experience of being a woman. So many times throughout my life I’ve witnessed firsthand the word “feminist” making people—including women—super uncomfortable and defensive. There’s a stigma attached to it that a feminist is a mean, jaded man-hater who believes women should rule the world.

I love and appreciate men so much. My world is full of men who set great examples for my kids, but I can't fool myself into thinking the work is done. Feminism is a chance to look at our lives with wisdom and clarity and wanting better for all our kids. It’s a shame it’s called feminism and not just Team Humanity.

Feminism is not about women being better than men, the same way BLM is not about Whites or police mattering less, the same way the LGBTQ movement is not about heterosexuals having to apologize for who they are.

All movements are about making equal room for everyone at the table. Life is more delicious this way, don't you think?

I hyphenated my last name with my first marriage, and I can't tell you how many conversations I had to have with both men and women who were disgusted and somehow personally offended by my choice. People would say, "Ah, so you're one of those women, huh?" I never preached to anyone that they should do the same thing--it was simply what I wanted for me, but the stigma of rough and tumble feminists taking over the world was too prevalent in the minds of some that I felt the weight of that prejudice just by saying my name.

Education and honesty are at the heart of equality. We need to talk openly to our kids. We need to tell our girls to be aware of behavior that shuts them down and that speaking up doesn’t make them a nag or a "ball buster".

We need to tell our heterosexual boys, look, I get it, a woman’s body might make you feel like you’re going to lose your mind, but it is your job to respect and honor her. It’s our job as humans to do that in general to everyone.

And this is where that antiquated phrase of, “Boys will be boys” comes into play. I think people mean to say heterosexual boys are going to be attracted to girls when their hormones arrive and they can’t help it, but the phrase needs to be amended to “Boys will be boys, but not at the expense of our daughters’ wellbeing. They’d better keep it in check because our girls aren’t standing for it like we did.”

Can we please update that?

Inequality between the sexes has surfaced in obvious ways for me but also in more subdued, unsettling ways that eerily creep their way into accepted behaviors. These quiet missteps are undetectable by those who have become accustomed to swimming with the current.

I’ve been told by a male supervisor not to have so much confidence at a job because it’s off-putting.

Years ago, when I was a waitress, I had male coworkers make comments on my small chest, and when I reported it to the manager, he laughed at how sensitive I was and reminded me that's just how men are.

I was told by a human resources employee that she (a woman!) first assumed I would not be able to do a job since I was a single mom, but now that I was remarried, she did see how I might be able to handle the job now. Then she went on to criticize my cover letter, saying it was too bold and seemed too cocky.