I was recently asked if I’m a feminist.
The answer isn’t an easy one.
I mean, if you consider what people call feminists nowadays, or the people who were the pioneers of the feminism movement, I certainly don’t fit the mold.
If, however, as Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler put it, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” too, then absolutely, I’m a feminist.
I think women are awesomely amazing, valuable members of the human race, no better or worse than men, but equally deserving, equally worthwhile, equally terrific.
The thing is though, I’m also a realist.
I am fully cognizant of the fact that men and women are not the same. We are intrinsically different- one look at our bodies, internally and externally, will reaffirm that. Those who say there is no difference between men and women are just in denial.
Biology makes us different, and affects us in more ways than just our physical body. Men have XY chromosomes, women XX. Men’s brains work differently than women’s brains. And for those inclined to say that the differences in men and women are largely a product of how we raise our children, the case of David Reimer, biologically male but given sex reassignment surgery after a botched circumcision and raised a female, shows that there is something deep inside us, beyond hormones, beyond outer appearance, beyond conditioning, that makes men and women different.
Judaism recognizes that, and appreciates the differences between men and women, giving us special tasks that help us reach our fullest potential as men and as women. And just as our bodies and hormones and brains are different, the paths to Godliness that we were assigned are different.
People like to use the phrase “Separate but equal is not equal” to say why this is unfair, but I believe in God and I believe in His wisdom in making the Yin and Yang in this world, the men and women who are different, yet equally vital, equally valuable, because both are necessary for this world to function well.
I’m not the classical feminist in that I don’t try to do stereotypical male things. Not because I think I’m not good enough to do them, or not deserving enough, but because, quite frankly, I have no need for them in my life, they don’t fit me and my reality of being a proud woman.
So in what way am I a feminist?
Well, I think women are amazing, and wouldn’t trade my place with a man’s for the world.
I revel in my womanhood and encourage other women to do the same- to experience womanhood in all its glory, and to own it and make it their own.
I am a big believer in empowering women to have meaningful, affirming, positive pregnancies and births- which is why I’m a home birther.
I love being able to use my amazing body to nourish and sustain my babies via extended breastfeeding, and then when they get older, I love the ability to show my love and express my desire to nurture my family via making and serving them delicious healthy meals, clothing them, and taking care of their other physical and emotional needs.
I love that as a Jewish woman, God entrusted in me to raise my children in the ways of God, to the extent that the Torah was first given to women, and then men. I am thankful for this faith that God and the Torah has in me, which is why I home school my children, so I can instruct them in the ways I consider ideal.
I think women have a special nurturing, patient, and loving side to them, and a special depth of understanding and intuition.
It saddens me when there are women that seem be so repulsed by the concept of womanhood and things that women have done for millenia that, in the name of feminism, they cut off their daughters that want and choose to do things that women traditionally have done.
It saddens me when I see people that seem to reject their femininity and only seem to be chasing after things that men traditionally have done, when they don’t realize that, to paraphrase a famous quote, a woman needs to do manly things as much as a fish needs a bicycle.
Instead of chasing after the male experience, instead of trying to play an eternal game of catch-up with men, why not stop, reflect, and embrace womanhood?
Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. We each have amazing things we can contribute to the world, amazing things we can experience by appreciating how we were made, instead of dreaming of being things we are not.
Why must people, in the name of feminism, claim that there is no difference between men and women? Why be in denial? There are very many proven, factual differences between men and women, and by people trying to pretend there are not, they’re making their life harder for themselves and for others.
I am a feminist because:
I believe women are amazing and can contribute to their families, their societies, and to the world in ways that only women can.
I believe that women were given special strengths that men don’t have.
I believe that women should be given equal pay for equal work, equal rights to vote, to own property, etc.
I believe that women’s feelings and opinions deserve to be heard, nay, need to be heard. All women’s feelings and opinions, even when they differ drastically from my own. I do not believe any women should have their opinions silenced.
I believe womanhood is amazing, and I relish every moment of living my life as a woman, and embrace every aspect of it.
I am a feminist.