Let us be open to understanding feminism


What does it mean to be a feminist?

Feminism gets misunderstood and looked down upon far too often, especially in the Church. I’m convinced this comes simply from a lack of understanding. Fear not! I would love to clear things up.

My being a feminist does not mean I hate men, nor does it mean that I want to be a man. Feminism, at its core, is about agency. To me, feminism means that women, and men, should be free to make their own choices without pressure from society based on their gender. It means that women and men should be equal in their abilities to exercise their agency.

So, if feminism is all about equality, why do I proclaim myself as a feminist instead of just someone who stands for equal rights? Because feminine qualities are what both men and women are shamed for. Examples include, “You run like a girl,” “You drive like a woman” and “Is it that time of the month?” The fact that femininity is at the core of these, and many other insults, drives me to be a feminist.

I entirely believe that men and women have divinely appointed roles in the family. I believe the divine characteristics given to women and men should be valued and nurtured.

I also believe in agency. If a woman wants to pursue a career while her husband stays home with the kids, that should be between the couple and God. Societal pressure should have nothing to do with it. If a couple has made the decision they feel is best for them and their family, neither the man nor the woman should be made to feel bad about their decision simply because gender norms and society say they should.

The same principle stands if a woman’s deepest desire is to stay at home and raise her children; according to feminist ideals, she and her husband are completely entitled to make that choice if it’s what is best for them and their family. I would think that, as members of the Church, we would dislike it when people who do not share our beliefs try to tell us what we believe. Same thing goes for feminists.

Many people profess that they are not feminists because feminists hate men, or feminists don’t acknowledge the suffering of men, or that feminists are seeking to destroy the institution of the family, and they often say these things without any foundation for their claims other than what they’ve read on social media.

Many people hold on to unfounded misconceptions about feminism. Some seem to think that those ideals listed above are at the core of some feminist mission statement. I would assert that most feminists do not agree with any of the above statements.

I want to address the word “feminazi.” I think the phrase you are looking for is, “woman with feminist ideals that I find extreme.” “Feminazi” literally compares these women with a group that was complicit in mass genocide. This seems like an inaccurate comparison to me.

Many people in the world think the Mormons are extreme, so we should certainly be able to empathize with a group with misunderstood values.

As a member of the Church, I believe gender distinctions are important and essential to our eternal identities. Gender norms are not; they are constructed by society and make it difficult to fully exercise our agency.

Feminism is near and dear to my heart because of how strongly I believe in agency, and because it’s far past time we stop pressuring the choices of others based on what we believe they should be.

'Let us be open to understanding feminism' have 7 comments

  1. December 2, 2015 @ 6:24 pm Doug

    Could feminism be defined as having equal rights and opportunities as men? I mean feminists are not advocating that they be the same as men, or not as I see it. They just want the same opportunities as men. As a man, I have stayed home and raised children. It was my wife’s and my choice. Women just want to be able to make the same choices as men without whispering and sideways looks, etc. That said, sometime our situations that are self-made preclude us from having the choices that we wish we had. That is not the time to rally around feminism as if it is society that has created the situation of non-equal opportunity.
    This article is well written and the author speaks from her heart.


  2. December 23, 2015 @ 5:32 pm Sara

    Thanks for your article! I learned what feminism meant when I was in high school, and I am surprised that some people still think feminists are man haters. It’s just not true. Feminists want equal opportunities for both men and women. Feminism isn’t just about women, but about men too. I’ve seen many examples of sexism throughout my life and that’s why we have feminists. To bring attention to inequalities that many are blind to. If we had achieved gender equality, we wouldn’t need feminists to advocate for women’s rights. Thanks again!


  3. January 14, 2016 @ 7:35 pm Kate Locke

    It’s about time someone wrote an article like this. Thank you so much. It’s disheartening that so many people within the church act as if feminism is a terrible thing – it is not. When taken to the extreme, it can be.
    Women need to embrace their femininity, while also feeling like they are equal to men. It’s important for both men and women to realize their roles and distinctive gender qualities which complement each other. That is how Heavenly Father intended it to be.

    I would like to say to all the amazing women out there, “Embrace feminism! Being a woman is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.”


  4. February 3, 2016 @ 4:14 pm Lance Revoir

    PURE GOLD – something both feminists and non-feminists can learn from!


  5. June 1, 2016 @ 12:23 am Jessica

    Feminism is cancer.


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