Actual conversation with a FEMALE coworker in her twenties.
her: YOU can’t REALLY be a feminist! Feminists are lesbians and atheists and women who hate men.
me: (after taking several deep breaths and biting my tongue very, very hard to keep from exploding) Well, some feminists are lesbians or atheists or hate men. Or all of the above. And some feminists are straight, happily married Christian ladies who think their husband and sons are the finest people on this earth. Anybody can and should be a feminist. You don’t even have to be a woman to be a feminist. In fact, being a feminist requires only three things as far as I’m concerned: Belief that women are human beings–deserving of all the rights and respect given men as human beings. Acknowledgement that women are NOT viewed or treated as equal human beings in all kinds of ways. Willingness to stand up and say that out loud in an effort to change it.
And the fact that you, a bright young woman I love working with every day doesn’t understand or believe that makes me unbelievably sad. And makes me an even more determined feminist.