Until recently, I was embarrassed to call myself a feminist. I knew that as soon as I spoke that dirty word people would look at me differently. When I described myself as a feminist (and I did – I was just embarrassed in doing so) I would quickly defend myself by explaining that a feminist is an advocate for human rights, not a short-haired man hater.
I became a closet feminist nearly four years ago, during my final semester in college. I knew in my heart I was a feminist but would never, ever admit that to anyone for fear of being scorned. Generally, people do not like feminists. (Generally, people do not know what feminist means.)
I was a feminist, but I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to care about equal opportunity for women and I certainly didn’t want to be known for it (how embarrassing!) I would lie in my bed at night and tell God I didn’t want to care and I definitely didn’t want it to be my calling, or whatever. So could I please have different passion? Please?
But I can’t help it – my pulse continues to quicken and my insides churn whenever I witness the inequality of women. Few other issues can make me so heated.
Last night I started the biography of Lucy Stone and I found myself holding a scream in my chest as I read what I already knew about the oppression of women. I know the facts, but they stab me every time I hear them.
Slowly, yet surely I’m coming into my identity and calling as a feminist. For a while I was like Moses at the beginning of Exodus, “But Godddd! I don’t WANT to do this! Wah wah the Israelites don’t even like me and can you pa-lease can you choose someone else?”
But somewhere along the way Moses stops protesting and just accepts his lot in life. I’m kind of getting there.
I’ve stopped being embarrassed when I tell people I’m a feminist – even though I’m usually met with a surprised smirk, “Oh, really? You’re a feminist?” as they check the length of my hair. I smirk back and think, “You’re probably one too. You just don’t know it because you don’t know the correct definition of feminist. And your hair is shorter than mine.”
I used to worry people would think I’m a lesbian because I’ve never had a boyfriend and I’m a feminist. I don’t really care about that anymore – people can think what they want. Now I’m worried I’ll never find a Christian man who will not only put up with my strong feminist views, but also be right alongside me in my fight for human equality.
I know a lot of great Christian guys who believe in human equality…to an extent. For most of them there’s a limit to what women are able/supposed to do – because God said so (God was also a proponent of the crusades and slavery, don’t forget!) I don’t really want to get into the nitty gritty of all of that because it wears me out. But I believe God has a different idea about women than what most people believe.
When a guy likes me I always think, “if only you knew.” If only you knew what a radical feminist I am – it would scare you away. Earlier this year I was talking with a new friend and I told her that I didn’t want to take my husband’s last name. And then I freaked out, “But DON’T tell any boys that!!! PROMISE ME YOU WON’T TELL THEM!!!” Because one time I casually mentioned the last name thing in front of a guy and he said – point blank – he would never marry me. So I usually try to keep that my dirty little secret. My plan used to be a) let him fall madly in love with you b) then spring the whole last name thing on him.
But I don’t want to make excuses/keep secrets about who I am or what I believe. Hence why I just told you all out there in Internet-la-la-land my scandalous secret (note: it still makes me insecure to put that out there.)
Even though I worry I’m too much a feminist for Christian guys, I choose to believe (most of the time) that God is going to bring to me a man who not only calls himself a feminist, but is also willing to forfeit the tradition of his last name. Lucy Stone found one, after all, so why can’t I?
P.S. My college friend Lance Bernhard married Michelle Wuerth – they each kept their last names. Here’s why.
P.P.S. My good friends Drew Bergen and Alie Trudeau married and kept their last names.