What it means to be a Feminist

By: Rhonda Nemri

Normally when people hear or read the word feminist, their own connotation of the word is different than other people’s definition of the word. People who have not considered looking into feminist literature or theory, have come to the conclusion(s) that all feminists are either lesbian, man haters, hate the world, hate women, or just want to be like a man. At times as a feminist you have to consider that even though these definitions may come off as offensive, you have to stop and think that these meanings that are given are not educational guesses, these are meanings that have been misinterpreted by society and passed along to others, in which has created ignorance. However, being a feminist is not something that you are born with. Women can realize they are a feminist in their adult years. I for one realized I was a feminist at the age of 24.

The meaning of the word feminist is a lifestyle that you choose to live based off of how you perceive things in your life that deal with woman and cultural oppression’s that occurs day to day. It is not that a feminist want to be a man, she wants to be able to be accepted as a woman without being said she is acting masculine. This means that woman tend to stay within what society tells them their roles are. For instance, woman are to stay home, live under the patriarchy (which is her father) until she is married and passed along to another patriarchal figure (her husband). She is to have children and become the mother/wife of the household. Her duties must represent womanly duties, and not ones that relates to a mans job. Women have seen the opressions and inequalities that occur in our society. Some reject the fact that this is a problem, others accept there is a problem but do nothing about it, and some women accept it and do something about it. The reason why some reject that there are problems is because they have been conditioned to believe that this is the way life is supposed to be. A man is in control, and the woman should be submissive to a man. Those women who realize there is a problem and do not do anything about it, are living in fear that if they speak up about the issues, it will come back to haunt them and used against them. However, those who have accepted that there is a problem and act out, it becomes harder for them to go back and be a part of the society that thinks it is okay for women to be objects or considered the “other”. A feminist understands and knows that she is in a world that creates these norms for women that they should abide by.

We have women now in all kinds of career paths and fields. However, are they really equal to a man when it comes to pay? I was once told that the womans issues are petty and should not be focused on so much. If we continue to think these are petty issues then the stereotypes and close minded statements will always be there. In the societal roles that women have we can notice that women tend to have jobs that are close knit to their household duties or what is expected from them. For example, teachers, secretaries, nurses, lunch ladies, housekeepers, and so on. To be a feminist you have to accept that these are roles given to us and are expected from us. You can either reject them or accept them. Even if you are part of these career paths and fields, it is not that it is wrong, however you must consider that these are what people normally see women doing, and that you must be sure that you are doing it for yourself and not because society tells you to do it. There are different kinds of feminists (radical, liberal, global and multicultural, etc ). Each of these types of feminst believe that society objectifies women, however not all types of feminist believe in the same things. For instance a radical feminist believe in a revolutionary approach. That the patriarchy must be torn down. The liberal feminist believes that our society should have a reform. That certain things should be changed in order for women to not be oppressed. global and multicultural feminists believe that all types of women from different cultures go through similar oppressions, however some are more brutal than others. For example genital mutilation, honor killings, marriage at a young age, etc. Being a feminist is not an easy part of ones life, however it is a lifestyle that will change your perceptions of how you want your life to be.

It is common that those who do not accept feminism, will tend to pull you back and debate with you on certain topics to make you look wrong. Also, there are those who will always keep an eye on you and try to point out things you do wrong to justify that your are not a real feminist. But being a feminist is not like being from another country, it is being a women without the patriarchy telling you how to be a woman. That all the choices you make are based on your needs and not someone elses needs.

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6 Comments

  1. July 4, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I like how you said “not letting patriarchy tell you how to be a woman.” I think that the more a man / men serve and dignify women, the more women will naturally be everything they want and have in them to be. Incidentally, I believe that women might even be more apt to serve their significant when he is setting the tone by being servant-hearted and non-controlling towards her. So both are serving each other out of the love and passion of their hearts in the context of freedom, while in parallel supporting one another’s ambitions and dreams, and finding ways to make those dreams intersect in a freeing, uplifting way.

    I have found when teaching on this even in spiritual-based arenas that this principle is very true in the word of God. But we have been seeing it wrong. For example, a place says for a woman to submit to her husband, and later says for the man to love his wife and Christ did the church. Many have incorrectly felt this defined the role of a woman to serve the man and family, and the man to “love” the wife (often not much more than a vague platitude). The thing people don’t realize is that Christ’s sacrifice and laying down of His life was a far greater level of submission and sacrifice than that which is being asked of the woman! The man is supposed to be the chief servant of the household. And again, submission and servanthood are all supposed to exist in the context of freedom, not force or weighty expectation.

    You can’t expect a flower to blossom and be all that it is when you force it, hinder it, hold it down, or pull it in a certain direction. You (men, I’m speaking to you) have to be the gardener of her heart…the one who waters and feeds her, tills the ground around her to keep it from being pressuring and suppressive to her, and fence her in to protect her from harm. And when you make contact with her, it must only be with gentleness, so as to not force her in any way. Let her grow in the sun unhindered so she can blossom and express all she has within. She’ll love you with all she has if you serve her in this way.

    [Thank you for indulging me, Rhonda.]

    • feministtalk said,

      July 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you for this comment. I appreciate your outlook. I think a lot of people misinterpret the bible. The one thing people don’t understand is there is a difference between expecting someone to be a servant, and someone taking on duties because they want to, not because someone told them to do them. Mainly I speak about men expecting women to become housewives, and basically do household jobs. It is unfortunate that some women are conditioned to believe that they must serve a man because that is her job. I know plenty of women who basically gave up their happiness internally and externally to fulfill a mans needs. This is what some men look for in a women. One that negates herself for him, and he becomes subject when she is object. He is the ruler, the breadwinner, the leader of his household. I should not say all, but this is what society constructed as norms. I have had conversations with people that tell me this issue is very silly, and that I should get over the little things. But the little things is what is affecting us. Even women that I know tell me that this is not a big deal. I guess I am just a crazy, emotional, and irrational feminist to think that being a servant to a man is wrong.

      Relationships shouldn’t be about control, and who does what and controls what. It has to be a balance 50/50.

      • July 7, 2012 at 2:22 pm

        You are not crazy or irrational. Or, if you are, then I am too. If other women don’t think it’s a big deal, they may be in a setting where they just don’t see it much in their lives, or they have more respectful men around them…which is a blessing. The fact is that’s just not how it is everywhere, for sure. (And if you’re emotional, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s part of what makes you who you are, and it is indicative of the passion for justice that God has put in you.)

  2. July 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

    (Incidentally Rhonda, I wanted to thank you again for allowing me to read and post on your blog. My name is Justin, and I ask you don’t post this comment. I just wanted to pay you the respect of introducing myself back to you from earlier. Blessings to you, and keep posting new blogs periodically. They are a blessing. If you ever have comments or questions that go offline from our blogs, feel free to find me on my website or fb page, located on the bottom of my Home page of my blog.)

  3. feministtalk said,

    July 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Yes I know. Just some sarcasm. Thanks for your input 🙂

  4. July 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Crossover at Eagles Point and commented:
    I think it’s important for us to listen and understand things that tend to otherwise be sensitive topics and alarming buzz words, such as feminism. If we take a long enough pause and really define feminism for what it is truly intended to be, from a puristic approach, without ulterior motive and dishonest bias, we will see that those of us who have a passion for equality and social justice, including men like myself, are actually feminists.
    Of course, we seek fairness and balance, so there are no double standards. But again, I speak from a standpoint of genuine heart and perspective. And from this mindset, I find myself saying Amen to my dear sister here in the following blog. I am unashamedly a feminist as well. And I’m proud to say that God, throughout the fallen state of man with male-dominated cultures all throughout the bible, was also a feminist, believe it or not. (It takes a mature, studious eye to know how to mine the word of God with cultural and societal contexts in tact, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what’s right in front of you. But I give you my word, it’s there.)
    The erosion of pride is the beginning of sight.
    So, here is Rhonda, sharing from her heart, observations and wisdom…


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