Ordain Women. Pants to church. Bra burning. These are some of the terms that many in our culture associate with feminism, yet these terms reek of extremism, division and pride.
From my experience, I would say most LDS feminists are nothing like these extremists. Their passion for the subject is based on a desire for equality and the elimination of harmful stereotypes and beliefs. Isn’t that something we all want?
Many of the principles associated with their brand of feminism mesh seamlessly with the beliefs of the Church. Charity, respect and humility are all parts of this brand of feminism.
Clearly, there are multiple definitions of what a feminist is, and when we assume that it carries the same meaning for others, contention is often the result.
When contention pops up, a discussion becomes a battle of wills and it ceases to be edifying for either party.
In any discussion, it is important to understand what the other parties are saying, and this discussion is rife with misunderstanding.
For this reason, feminism needs a rebrand.
That being said, feminism is a spectrum from a weekly ‘slacks to church’ mindset to an over-zealous chivalry.
Certainly, every person who wants to improve the lives of women will have different views and methods, but we can certainly find some common ground by being careful about our terminology.
I’ll talk a little about what this looks like for both feminists and those who want to help women but don’t really care what you call it.
Feminists, you need to be willing to put your terms aside. Sometimes you can fight for a feminist ideal without using the words feminism, feminist or any of the other feminist buzzwords.
Those who need your perspective often associate feminism with man-hating or angry women, so avoid this association from the start. Change up your wording. This can help them open their heart to change.
It’s the principles that really matter. Feminism should be about making people’s lives better in real ways, not about trends and buzzwords.
Encourage your friends to stand up for kindness, for equality, for love. Explain to your friends why many gender stereotypes are wrong and harmful to those who don’t fit the norm. Help them understand that this doesn’t have to be an extreme idea. Sometimes it just means allowing a girl to play basketball or lift weights without being labeled manly. Sometimes it means allowing a boy to cry without calling him a wuss.
Non-feminists, when people use the word feminist, don’t automatically shut them down and assume they subscribe to extremist feminism. Consider their viewpoint based on the content of what they say, not on preconceived notions about what feminism is.
You don’t have to call it feminism, but realize there are many good things that come from LDS feminists. Take each person’s beliefs and opinions for what they are without assuming what they believe. Whatever you call it, fight for feminism, fight for equality, fight for change.