I get different reactions when I say I'm a feminist.
"Not extreme enough."
"Not into that."
"So do you hate men then?"
Feminists get a bad rap. We are man-hating, non-shaving, masculine, God-defying, pro-choice, family-snubbing crazies who are all exactly the same.
I love my boyfriend dearly, enjoy clean pits, have more ruffles in my closet than a pack of parakeets, proclaim God as my father and saviour, am completely pro-life, want at least four children, and also am proudly my own person.
And I believe in equality. I believe that women have the right to express themselves, make decisions and act on them, be leaders, hold positions of power, live into their calling, be creators, get paid based on position and performance and not on gender, dream big, be moms, teachers, pastors, scientists, engineers, writers, artists. We have the right to say yes, say no, say maybe. Women have the right to live.
The video above puts the idea of living into perspective. As important as they are, equal pay checks, rights to vote, and careers become secondary when millions of women are being denied the right to breath. They are being denied the right to see the world, explore personality, exercise their ears and eyes and hands and feet, think. They are denied the right to be people.
I don't deny that women are called to serve. But we are called to serve in the way that humanity, men and women are called to serve - we are called to serve each other, and a bigger picture that far exceeds our little slot of time here on this earth. We serve with what we are given - our gifts, talents, backgrounds, money, abilities, and time - and if 50 percent of the population is silenced, that's 50 percent of humanity's minds and creativity gone.
We are not commodities to be bartered with. The permission to live - and live fully - is not one that any person, gender, or culture has the right to grant. I am a feminist because I believe we are called to serve, and with my voice and with every ability in me, I want to serve those women who cannot speak for themselves - whether they're being oppressed into silence, cowed by circumstance and stigmas, or simply have never been given the opportunity. I am a feminist because equality, worth, and life are not things that should be gifted or bestowed, but need to be recognized as is, and acted upon. We have a duty to speak and make it so.