What Feminism Could (And Should) Be

Maybe it was a comment about women being bad drivers, maybe you’re tired of the pressures to get married young, or maybe you sympathize with a girl who doesn’t want a family at all.

By Chloë Lemaster4 min read
shutterstock 1271994589 (1)

If I had to take a guess, there’s been at least one moment in your life as a woman where you’ve thought, “maybe feminism does have it right.” I know I for one frequently have these moments. There’s something inviting about a gender utopia, but what’s advertised and what’s acted on are two entirely different things. 

Broken Families and Bold Statements

No one likes to criticize a single mother, and rightfully so. It’s impossible to know anyone’s situation and making assumptions about how one woman is raising her children is far from helpful. But there’s no denying that children brought up in single parent homes lead different lives than those with both parents.

When I was 16 years old, I made friends with two brothers. I thought it was odd how different they looked, and it wasn’t until I heard they had two different last names I realized they were step-brothers. It was the oddest thing to me, not because they were a mixed family, but because I hadn’t already guessed it. I’m not a people-reading-genius, nor did I have to be, to realize these two boys went against the grain of kids with divorced parents. They’d broken the mold I had instinctually created in my mind at just 16.

We all have a broken family radar and far too many people aren’t rising above the trends broken homes follow.

There’s a common phrase that pops up on social media now. I see at least once a day in the comment sections of any scantily clad girl on TikTok or any boy who brags about his lack of commitment. “Fatherless behavior.” It’s used as an empty insult, and I see it targeted towards women and girls far more often, but the fact it’s a topic at all should point something out – we all have a broken family radar and far too many people aren’t rising above what trends broken homes seem to follow like promiscuity, lower income, and higher rates of mental illness and violent crimes.

Not All Women, the Feminist Version

There’s a meme used by feminists with the base statement of “not all men.” It’s a comment left on posts and articles addressing women’s issues, particularly those that handle cross-gender relations – think sexual assault statistics, misogyny, and the stereotypical “man” behavior that feminism frowns on. 

The rebuttal was seen by feminists as men derailing the topic from women to men, but what it really was was men defending themselves from generalizations. The same generalizations women are faced with due to feminism’s lack of diversity.

Not all women are the ideal feminist. What even is an ideal feminist anymore? If feminism is at its core equal rights for all, despite gender, then count me in. I’m a feminist. “Then you must be for women having control over their bodies; you must be pro-choice.” No. Equal rights for all, remember? “Then you must see girliness is simply a societal construct ingrained in us – it's inessential.” So then you’re saying masculinity is more essential? No, I appreciate being a woman. That’s why I’m a feminist. “You understand trans women deserve women’s rights, too?” Stop there.

There is no one-size-fits-all option for feminism.

Suddenly I’m not a feminist anymore. But I’m not...not a feminist either. So what am I? Some might label themselves “pro-life feminists.” It’s simple enough, but we both know there will be those who say it’s a contradiction. Some would call me a TERF, a relatively newfangled term meaning “transgender exclusive radical feminist.” While I most certainly am not a radical anything, the term has been brought up on a few occasions when I’ve discussed feminism and its relation to transgenderism.

The fact of the matter is – there is no one-size-fits-all option for feminism. The feminism we see advertised – proud women who support abortion, LGBTQ+ agendas, and see the end goal to be doing the same thing men do – is seen as the “ideal feminist” by mass media. And if that’s the case, I am far from the ideal feminist.

Why Do You Believe What You Believe?

One thing I’ve always credited my parents for is their explanations as to why they do things as parents. Growing up, I very rarely heard the phrase “because I said so” or “because I’m your parent.” It simply wasn’t a thing I heard. And because of that, that means I got reasoning. And reasoning was the ammunition I needed for every argument and discussion I’ve ever been faced with. Whether I agreed with all of my parents' reasoning was another story. Even so, being challenged with their explanations, I was forced into coming up with my own. There was never a “this is just how things are done” conversation with them followed up with a nod from me. 

Reasoning was the ammunition I needed for every argument and discussion I’ve ever been faced with.

While I was homeschooled from first grade through graduating high school, I had a short sprint in a technical university during my junior year of high school. It was my first time in a public school setting, in high school nonetheless. While it was supposed to be more of a simulated workplace than a class, the room of 15 kids brought in enough drama to give me a taste of what I was – very fortunately – missing out on in public school. And, of course, this brought people who had differing opinions than me. Boy, were they different. In a span of a few weeks, I had to defend my religious views, my ideas on the LGBTQ+ community, and my political rights. I was faced with walking myself back to class without two other girls because they wanted to vape in the bathroom stalls, I defended waiting until marriage, staying sober, all these things I had firm beliefs in and – because of my parents’ past reasoning mingled with my own – I had arguments to back me up throughout the entirety. 

All jokes aside, “fatherless activities” seem to include not having valid arguments behind your behavior. And you don’t have to reach far to realize why – a parent or both are lacking in their responsibilities of teaching their kids how to give reasons for their decisions in life. 

Feminism doesn’t just implicitly encourage this anymore, but promotes single motherhood and teens and young adults who don’t make rational decisions. Radical feminists have prioritized equality over responsibility and, in doing so, have created a generation of women who reject themselves and others in the name of “equality.”

Not All Women, the Tradwife Version

Not all women play the ideal part of “anti-feminist.” There are always two sides to a coin and, unfortunately, there seems to be little to no room in between. When I first began rejecting modern feminism as my guideline for being a woman, I found myself being pulled further into a traditional, conservative community. While I, for the most part, didn’t mind this little push, I quickly forgot what I was working towards in the first place – being myself. 

I’d dug an equally deep hole on the other side of the fence. Where before I was being led to distrust men and my only goal was to make money, my new path was just as narrow. Suddenly it was ditsy floral dresses and a dozen kids and “don’t work, that’s not for women.” I was thrown into discussions with both men and women who had very similar ideas on what women should act like, speak like, be like. But I couldn’t agree with all of it.

Where before I was being led to distrust men and make money, my new path was just as narrow.

Ideally, our world could cater to any goals we set out to make. While marriage and motherhood are still – and will always be – my priority, dreams don’t provide a way for me to live. While I won’t be tossing out the term “all men,” bitterness quickly grew in me when I was faced with men – or boys, I should say – who criticized me for working, wanting to work, speaking out on political and societal issues, and for not being married at 18. What I couldn’t understand was how that all fell on my shoulders. And here are 20-something-year-olds who haven’t done their part either. And here I am, rejecting an idea all over again. Because yes, while I would love to have been married out of high school and be working towards a family, that’s not what happened and I’m certainly not going to be guilted into feeling that I’m less of a woman because of it. Devil’s advocate becomes very easy to play when you’ve seen both sides of the aisle. 

Closing Thoughts

After finding – and losing – myself on both sides of the feminism spectrum, my end goal is what you see now – a 19 year old who works as a waitress, a writer, who wears jeans, who doesn’t support abortion, who believes women are biologically different and beautiful, who doesn’t think all women are cut out for marriage and motherhood, who doesn’t believe all men are evil. I don’t fit a narrative, and it’s likely you don’t either. And that, I believe, is feminism at its finest. 

Love Evie? Let us know what you love and what else you want to see from us in the official Evie reader survey.