Why Women Are Their Own Worst Enemies!
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Ain’t I a Feminist?

Written By: Brandon Kelly

Date: August 2012

As Sojourner Truth so pointedly asked in her famous speech in Ohio, “Ain’t I a woman” to a crowd of white suffragists who tried to hiss her off the stage. I think now to ask myself a similar question: Ain’t I a Feminist?

Growing up the term feminist was an abstraction which brought to mind images of women with unshaven legs and armpits, perhaps a face piercing and most certainly holding hands with girls and not guys. I know that image sounds off the wall, but it’s the stereotype that I, a child born in the mid 70’s, had emblazoned in my mind. Not right, not fair, but honest.

These images didn’t look like me, so how could I be a feminist? After all, I have an aesthetician. I have a husband to whom I occasionally refer to as my boyfriend to keep it fresh. I like to get my nails done, often. I will live and die in heels or if necessary, a wedge; I will go barefoot before I leave my house in flats, unless traveling to a country with cobblestone streets.

I once asked a woman if she was a feminist. She was sitting next to her husband at the time and they both – to my surprise- responded that they were. I kind of looked at them with the confused puppy dog head tilt and then the husband in efforts to clarify his stance said that “of course he was a feminist. A feminist is a person who believes in equal rights for women.”

A light bulb went off for me that day. But my journey towards a better understanding of feminism had really only just begun. After working in various corporate environments I had both male and female leadership. Over the years it became apparent that as the jobs got bigger the women became harder to find.

An actor I admire was recently quoted as saying that she wasn’t a feminist. Her quote: "Well, I don’t think of myself as a feminist at all. As soon as we start labeling and categorizing ourselves and others, that’s going to shut down the world.” While at some point it should go without saying that we are all feminists, but that will only happen when changes have been made towards eliminating gender inequalities. There was a time not too long ago in American History when African Americans were not deemed full citizens with any real legal rights. Progress has been made, though the fight still wages on for comprehensive equality.

Changing the hearts and minds doesn’t happen overnight. The right to vote was only granted in 1920. As recent as the 70’s a single woman couldn’t get her own credit card or bank account without a man co-signing and sexual harassment was rampant in the workplace even through the 80’s.

I ask this of all of you in the crowd who hiss and boo at the term feminist and try to separate your own plight from the plight of all women, aren’t you a feminist? Despite your choice of aesthetic, might you also agree with the following?

To quote Sojourner herself:

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” Ain’t I feminist? Yes, I am and I hope we all are.