An interesting debate broke out on a message board I read the other day. They were discussing whether or not taking your husband’s name shows you are a feminist.
One side argued that if you “keep” your name - you are taking a stance against the “man” and therefore a feminist. (They failed to note that whether or not their last name matched their father’s or mother’s.)
The other side argued that fighting for the choice to make that decision is what defines feminism. That feminism means having options.
Both sides agreed that feminism has become a bad word due to the anti-man connotation that it has been saddled with. I cringe when people ask if I am a “feminist”. I usually answer “Yes, I believe that men and women should have access to the same opportunities.” That’s my definition of feminism – access to the same opportunities.
Growing up in a post-Title IX world, it’s hard sometimes to see the clear lines of the battlefield. Do I think that women still have to fight to be equal because there are people who genuinely believe that women aren’t as smart or as capable as a man? Absolutely.
But I also struggle with how to define myself as life gets more complicated. Does the joy I get from taking care of my husband by making dinner and folding the laundry mean I have to turn in my women’s rights card?
I think there are real gender differences that need to be accommodated in order to create an equal playing field. Study after study has shown that boys and girls relate to the world differently. And if you talk to any mom who has had a boy and a girl, they can tell you it starts at a very early age. Does this mean I can no longer claim that I believe men and women are “equal”?
What do you think? Is “feminism” relevant today? What does it mean to you?