I am a feminist. There. I said it. Also, happy birthday, Mim.
This blog post is very important to me; in fact, I’ve been wanting to write it for a long time now. I just wanted to sit on it for awhile until I was comfortable posting it, as we all know how powerful words can be. This post is a combination of my self-declaration and a valentine to arguably my favorite person on this earth. It turns out they’re very interconnected.
I recently joined a group here at Gordon that is equal part Bible study and small group, focused on promoting women in leadership by pairing them with female mentors in administration on campus. It is definitely one of my favorite things I’ve done here yet. Initially, we got together to kind of hash out where we are all at, and it was fascinating because I observed that the young women in my group were more influenced by their mothers than their fathers in regards to how confident they are in leadership (debunking the whole “feminists are only women with daddy issues” false argument).
Some girls who described their mothers as very meek were quick to say how difficult they are finding confidence in their own leadership abilities and how inside they feel perpetually inferior to men even though they recognize that’s not true. Other girls who described their moms as equal partners growing up answered that they wanted to follow their examples and felt capable to do so.
I was able to reflect on this and I realized something very quickly: I would not be a feminist today without my mother’s example. Because she is one of the strongest feminists I know.
Let me preface this by giving a definition to a term that has been so vilely misconstrued by both misandrists and misogynists alike.
Feminism is the belief held by men and women that women are equal to men. While the genders are different, they hold the same value in society.
That’s it, guys. That’s all it is.
So, basically, everyone I know is a feminist.
You, dear reader, are (most hopefully) a feminist.
I am a feminist.
And here’s why.
Because growing up I watched my mother intently in everything she did. I watched the way she parented my siblings, pushing each of us to care about education, social justice, and actively helping the world. She was always so flawlessly equal parts loving and lovingly strict. She balanced voicing her own opinions and working in partnership with my dad (who is also a feminist ((even if he doesn’t know it yet))) with a kind of grace I don’t think I’ll ever be able to muster.
More than being a powerhouse domestically, she has always been a community leader. Not only did she start up her own very successful company which she uses as a way to evangelize (CVL, represent) but she also has been working with the MOPS organization for years now. She truly has a heart for helping out moms who feel like they have to sacrifice growth in their faith for motherhood. One time in high school, I accompanied her on a talk to a small rural MOPS meeting. Mom gave her talk about balancing being a mother, a wife, and a flawed individual in the face of detrimental perfectionism. It was amazing, of course, and the women in the audience acted like my mom was some kind of celebrity. And to me that day, she totally was. Us kids like to make the joke that there isn’t anywhere in the world that we could go where someone wouldn’t come up to us and say “you guys are Mindi’s kids, right?” (literally this happened at Disney World). My mom truly impacts people, by loving, inspiring, or empowering them.
This community leadership really culminated when I was in high school and she ran for state government. And let me tell you, if anyone tries to convince you that sexism isn’t real, let me direct your attention to state politics. My mom networked, campaigned, and spent more time on this election than I think even Leslie Nope herself would have. All during this time, she faced pressure from local bigwigs to drop out because some random grassroots mother surely couldn’t play with the big boys. All the while, I watched her; it was like the more flak she got, the more resilient she became.
I have never been more proud to be my mother’s daughter than during that graceful loss, because it meant that my mom fought for her beliefs amidst adversity. Guys, this is the stuff of heroines.
My family has a history of strong women that really crescendoes with my mother. She has always reinforced in me that I am entirely equal to my brothers, that the world is merely waiting for me to find its glorious opportunities, and that there is fierce beauty in being a woman. I call myself a feminist because not doing so goes against my upbringing and her example.
I recently watched this TedTalk given by speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is a brilliant mind. (Like, guys, please watch this video if you’ve ever struggled with the concept of feminism). In it, she describes how growing up in Africa, it was unfeminine and vulgar to call yourself a feminist, with the perception of it being very radical and full of misandry. She makes a passionate plea that the word needs to be reclaimed, by everyday people who know the truth about the word. It isn’t a hateful word symbolizing a twisted perspective. It’s a word of pride.
To me feminism goes hand in hand with a lot of things. Pride. Justice. Christianity. Globalization. Beauty. Leadership. Opportunity. History. Empowerment.
And that’s an awesome thing.
So in conclusion,
I’m a feminist, my mom is a superhero, and that’s about it.
Happy birthday, Mim!