I’m coming out of the closet:
I am a feminist.
It’s one of the things I’ve been raised with. It’s also one of the things that I have been well-schooled in (primarily at college and beyond).
Of course, wearing the label of “being a feminist” is as meaningful as saying that “I am female.” In other words, people seem to think that it describes something, but often doesn’t. Despite that, being a feminist is one of the labels that I wear besides being Japanese, Jewish, Jewpanese, etc.
And perhaps to the surprise of some, I am quite traditional in my observance of Judaism as well.
As a feminist however, I thank the earlier generations of feminists who gave me the luxury to choose the life style that I want to lead. I am aware that each moment I choose to daven in the style that I want to, I am reaping the benefits of earlier generations of courageous feminists. Without them, I will not be here in peace, happy with my decisions today.
The earlier feminists opened many doors for me. Together with thinkers and rabbis (not necessarily feminists themselves), they came up with alternative interpretations of many laws and customs that had roots in places less pleasant. I am not for forgetting the mainstream interpretations, but I am certainly for taking firm hold of the alternative ones (some new and some old) and making it my own.
On the other hand, I have no sympathy for lazy women and men of today who think that if they “uphold the rights of women” (in the most unimaginative way possible) that they made themselves “sufficiently feminist” and therefore are exempt from thinking further about their actions.
To assume in this day in age in urban America, that a woman getting married to a guy would take on his last name and that she would move down to wherever it is that he is (without asking why they might be physically separated in the first place) is sexist. No, there’s no excuse for that one. I can understand that from someone of another generation, but NOT from a B.A.-bearing, 20- or 30-something living in an urban area.
I also have no patients for women who are comfortably installed in their office jobs who dare to say that “feminists caused more trouble than solved them.” At times like this, I feel like taking a big breadth and saying, “Well sweetheart, you know something? You won’t be holding that job right now at the salary that you are if it weren’t for those ‘problem-causing feminists.’” I sometimes don’t have the courage to say that and am ashamed of myself.
I also admire the current feminists who continue to talk about and work on difficult issues. The goal of feminism is to make this world a better place for us all; to allow us to live as we are, whether we are a man, a woman, both, or in between—that’s my brand of feminism.