I Didn’t Want to be a Feminist

Courtesy of Hannah Nicole

“I like to help women help themselves, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to settle the woman question. Whatever we can do and do well we have a right to, and I don’t think any one will deny us.” – Louisa May Alcott

 I didn’t want to be a feminist.

Growing up homeschooled, being a “feminist” was a dirty thing. Those were the women who want to burn bras and turn all the fairy tales into woman saving herself. Those were the women who didn’t believe in femininity and wanted to act like men. Those were the women who were ruining our society with over-sexualizing everything.

Then, the strangest thing happened around a year ago – I realized that I was a feminist.

The idea sort of shocked me at first. Not just the idea that I could be in favor of property rights and equal pay – I was never against those things. It was the idea that I was extremely passionate about women’s rights as a whole. I was passionate about the fact that my gender did not make me one ounce lesser of a person in any way than my male counterparts. I was passionate that girls should receive a proper education in every corner of the globe. I was passionate that rape was never a woman’s fault and recognized the horrific double sexual standard that permeates our world. I was passionate about utilizing social entrepreneurship and micro loans to females in order to curb poverty in third world nations. I was passionate about human trafficking victims getting a chance at a new life by not prosecuting them, but the men who sell and buy them from sex.

And you know what? I’m pretty sure I was born a feminist.

I’ve always been a feisty little spit fire, ready to take on the world with as much screaming, kicking, and spitting as I needed to. It’d probably be because you insulted my doll’s “realness” and my maternal instinct just went into overdrive. Please, you can’t blame a kid for having spunk. My catch phrase as a toddler was “Ea do it!” See, I was the type of girl who was obsessed with Jane Eyre at the age of seven. Yes, that amazing piece of nineteenth century feminist overtone literature that involves a plain and penniless governess falling in love with a rich man only to assert her free will to leave him in order to stay true to her morals. Uh huh… that’s what I told people my favourite book was when I was seven. They should have known I’d grow up to be a feminist then and there.

I also really liked hatchets. And chopping down trees. And Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. And worms. And make believe. And fishing. And reading. And crafts. And more reading. And my dolls. And dancing. Even though I was never very good at it. Too much facial expression, not enough coordination. 

It wasn’t just my all-over-the-place-do-what-I-want interests that set me up to be a feminist. It was also what made me passionate, even at the age of six. I was determined at the age of six that I was going to go off to India someday and take care of girls. I was inspired by Amy Carmichael and her story of rescuing temple prostitutes – so I decided then and there that I was going to go do something crazy with my life. My independence ran deep. As did my desire for other girls to live a full life.

 That desire never really changed. 

When I was thirteen, I read a book about modern day slavery and I wanted to do something. So I decided to try to get my church to collect loose change through Zach Hunter‘s Loose Change to Loosen Chains campaign. During that process, I started digging more and more into the world of human trafficking and especially sex trafficking. Not only did I read up on the dramatic problem in India, I came to realize that sex trafficking was a problem in my own backyard among girls my own age. While to many others, I seemed too young to care about the problem, the fact is, thirteen is the average age of entry into prostitution and if girls my age were enduring this – I certainly wasn’t too young to try to help. I wanted to see other girls, not that different from me, live a better life.

My life has not been perfect thus far. In my family there has been physical illness, job loss, mental illness, and many struggles. Yet I have also been very blessed. I have a loving family, always have had food and shelter, and I have been emotionally cared for and protected. All throughout my life, I think I had a craving to get the most life had to offer – and for others to get that too.

Not too long ago, I heard a trafficking survivor share her story. She was seventeen when she moved to Minneapolis and started selling her body; the same age I am now. It breaks my heart every time I think of how astoundingly full my life has been and how much I wish that every woman could experience what I have.

I am an empowered female. I’m educated, an entrepreneur, confident in my body and sexuality, and among other things am able to be myself and speak my mind without fear.

While it took me many years before I could admit to the label of feminist, I know today that I am a feminist not because it’s the “hip” thing to do, but because I truly believe that all human beings have an innate and equal worth. I want to see each and every one of them live a healthy and whole life. I want to see every man, woman, and child come to a right relationship with God. I believe that God’s design for the genders was to make us different, but still to make us equals. I believe that women are created as beautiful and unique individuals – individuals with rights and ability and a voice.

 At the core of my beliefs, I believe we are each created with an innate worth as well as with a broken heart. We live in a corrupt world and we have corruption in our souls. This life is a fight and a longing for something better than what we have and something better than we have ever seen. This whole feminism thing is not even in fighting for what I deserve, it’s in realizing that I have more than I deserve and I want others to receive more than they deserve. I want more for myself. I want more for the women who stand beside me. I’m not ashamed for wanting more.

Ultimately, the term feminist means so many different things to different people. There’s a spectrum and there are so many different ways of looking at the term, yet this is how I define a feminist: someone who is fighting from their heart outwards for something better for women than what they currently have and have ever had before. 

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4 thoughts on “I Didn’t Want to be a Feminist

  1. I think this harkens to the “religion vs. relationship” or the, “dating vs. courting” word debate. The idea of English language morphing is a hard one for many people to accept as personal experience drives the meaning behind words. Christianity is indeed a religion, but not in the terms of dead tradition or stale catechisms.

    Your definition of feminism is a fighter. Someone who wants something better for women than what they currently have. If that’s true, than I’m a feminist as well. Obviously that doesn’t work exactly the same for me, but I wonder if re-purposing the term hurts your mission, more than aiding it, or if this is an attempt to change the entire meaning of the word for everyone- a difficult task indeed.

    1. You definitely have a valid point. Words are in transition and how we use them is very complex – based so much on personal experience and mindset. However, rather than seeing my view as one that I want to redefine for everyone, I think it’s more about stating that there can be different ways of looking at it. “Feminist” is a label as diverse as “Christian.” There are many different approaches and points of view all within people who would take on that identity. Ultimately, this is a rather simplistic take on a very complicated subject – which is the struggle of most writing!

  2. the word Feminist has a bad rap…but I am happy to see a young vibrant woman change the definition…and I completely agree with it! I wish more women would realize their self worth and live it out in a healthy relevant way. I thought the title of this was captivating…and read every last word.

  3. This was incredibly refreshing to read! You hit the nail on the head, Olivia. I, too, have always grown up with “Feminist” being a “No, no” word, especially in the world of home-schooling. Because family, close friends, and especially the Church cringed at feminism, I subconsciously conformed to the idea, “Being a feminist is disgusting and wrong.”. Over the years though (and especially these past 2), I have found myself mentally fighting for our rights as women. I agree wholeheartedly with every word you stated. You wrote this beautifully.

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