Until very recently, I had never actually identified as a feminist. I'm a female, yes, but I've always shied away from even the topic of feminism, let alone the label of "feminist."
I hate to admit it, but I was one of those people who had the skewed perception that feminism was some sort of extreme pro-woman, anti-man movement.
I thought feminists were radical women who were always forcing their beliefs upon others and preaching crazy ideas. My lack of awareness was most likely due to my skewed perception of reality.
I was lucky in many ways growing up -- but probably also somewhat oblivious. My mom and dad raised me to be strong and independent, and never doubted my dreams or goals.
Although I didn't understand it at the time, I can see now I was raised by two feminist parents -- two parents who taught me to respect others, and most importantly, to respect myself.
I never felt unsupported, which may have been why I never understood the necessity of the feminist movement. I never truly understood what feminism was.
Just recently, I learned my definition of feminism was completely wrong. I wasn't even in the ballpark. And it was thanks to this election I reached this conclusion.
Hillary Clinton opened my eyes to this. She, along with her supporters, opened my eyes to the idea of feminism as a movement of equality, as a movement of compassion and strength.
True feminism does not divide people based on gender or gender identification. True feminism breaks down walls and barriers, and allows people to be whoever they would like to be.
In an interview with Lena Dunham, Hillary stated,
Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights. I'm hoping that people will not be afraid to say that doesn't mean you hate men, it doesn't mean you want to separate out the world, so you're not a part of ordinary life -- that's not what it means at all! It just means that we believe that women have the same rights as men.
While I'm only 24 and don't have children now, I can confidently say I fully intend to raise my children as feminists. I want my children to view all people as equal.
I want my children to grow up thinking they can do anything, without having t0 factor in gender. And I want this freedom to be a given and not a privilege.
I will teach them to follow their hearts and pursue whatever it is that sparks their minds, and I will raise them to respect their bodies and hopefully feel comfortable in their own skin.
I will teach them not to let the opinions of others minimize their self-love or self-respect.
Hillary Clinton taught me feminism is about continuing to persevere, even in the face of great disappointment. She taught me we have to continue to pursue our dreams even in the face of failures or letdowns. We have to keep trying and keep loving each other.
Hillary's words in her concession speech speak for themselves:
I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.
Thanks to Hillary Clinton, I now understand feminism is not simply a movement for women's rights -- it's a movement for the rights of everyone. And now, more than ever, we need this movement in the world.
As Hillary put it,
We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone. For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.
Though Hillary may have lost the election, she has inspired so many of us to continue the fight for human rights. She has paved the way for people of all genders to step up and influence the world.
I will raise my children as feminists in the hopes they will have the confidence to love and respect both themselves and others, and in the hopes they will know they can influence the world.
Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for showing us anyone can succeed, and anyone can follow their dreams.
Citations: The Guardian