Dear Zoey,

Feminism has become a dirty word. It’s a word that, honestly, still makes me uncomfortable. This past year and a half, I’ve worked through a lot of my own self-discovery when it comes to gender roles and such in our society. And being a mom to you is what has made me a feminist.

See, I’ve always kind of thought of it as a dirty word too. I equated feminism with man-hating or some notion that women held more value than men. But I’ve discovered that while some women may be man-haters, I am not one of them. I’ve found my way to feminism by imagining how I want you to perceive yourself, what I want society to show  you, what I really want for you and your identity. It’s not about the hot button issues within women’s rights. They’re all important talking points, but what I’m mostly focused on is you, and what I do to be an example for you.

This is what I want for you. I want you to never feel small or inadequate for being a woman. I want you to know that “hitting like a girl” or “running like a girl” or doing anything “like a girl” is powerful, not silly or ridiculous. I never want you to be a victim of rape or abuse, and if you are, I never want you to be shamed for it or to be told all the things you did to put yourself in that situation. I want you to make the choice of whether or not you want children, and to be fully valued and accepted regardless of your choice. I want you to be surrounded by women that have chosen different lives–stay at home moms, career women, career women that are moms, moms that used to be career women, single women, wise women. I want all of those examples in your life to show you that life is not meant to be lived in a box of expectations and limitations. It is meant to be savored and only you can choose what makes your heart beat. I never want you to be sexualized. I want you to find your sexuality out of a whole, beautiful self-image, not based on the cheap bullshit our society tries to sell you.You are more than your body. You are more than your gender. You are a whole person.

When you get older, I hope society has moved away from all the “unwritten rules” that women face on a daily basis. Rules like: Don’t walk by yourself, be in a well-lit place, always have your keys out, don’t stay out late anywhere, don’t ever accept a drink from anyone, don’t wear dresses (too easy access and they can be seen as inviting), and the list goes on and on. A lot of men I know still don’t believe or understand the fear-based lessons all of us women have learned over the years. They think we’ve moved past it. Don’t be mad at them, just try and share your story with them. Solidarity on this issue can only come from honest conversation. You teach people how you should be treated.

So, it’s because of you that I’m a feminist. It’s because of you that I live my life in a way that shows there is no one way or right way to be a woman. Being a feminist to me is an internal journey. It’s a journey that allows you to break through barriers. Instead of getting angry and complaining about the lack of strong women’s roles in Hollywood, or women engineers, or whatever it is…allow that frustration to inspire you. Let it inspire you to break those cycles. Don’t speak of change, be it.

Regardless of your interests, your passions, your beliefs, your sexuality, you are a whole, valuable person. You are worthy of respect, you are worthy of acceptance, you are worthy. And when other people or society tries to tell or show you otherwise, just curl up in my lap, let me run my fingers through your hair, and I’ll remind you of your amazing light.


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