Feminism Isn’t Monolithic

Has the inauguration of Donald Trump fueled a feud in feminism?

Starting the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, there have been back-to-back marches in Washington D.C. On Jan. 21, the Women’s March was a worldwide protest with an estimated 3.7 million participants, followed by the March for Life the next weekend. The participation of women in both marches has ignited the debate, “Can a pro-life woman also be a feminist?” My answer would be, “Why not?”

According to the online version of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” It is the belief that women naturally possess the same inalienable rights as their male colleagues. This means a woman should be allowed the same freedoms in health, career, family, religion and income. These are freedoms of choice: choosing the health care that is right for your body, which profession to pursue, how to run your household, how to worship, whether or not to work.

Why then are there women who claim to be feminists but feel constantly attacked by other feminists? Why then are there women who feel the need to discourage other women on this issue? Perhaps, there is still a leftover stereotypical image of what a feminist is.

Feminism does not mean anti-pink or that no one should follow traditional gender roles if they choose; being a true feminist means you support your sister in her decision to make her own choices. Labels such as pro-choice, pro-life and many others only fuel the fires of separation within the feminist movement. “Pro-choice” people do not advocate that abortions must be considered ethical by everyone; they simply want access to affordable contraception and to regulate their own reproductive rights. The “pro-life” label does seem to rub feminists the wrong way because of the obstruction the movement has on those reproductive rights.

As this administration continues to roll out executive orders, I think we should keep in mind that neither of these views should hinder the feminist movement; both at the core are about a woman’s right to choose her own principles. However, within our communities, we can see women starting to take sides against each other based on these views. We as women should always encourage and uplift women in their efforts to achieve, even if they don’t agree with us.

So how do we address these issues and concerns? The next time you feel at odds with another feminist, try a more positive view rather than a critical one. Being a feminist means putting those differences aside and concentrating solely on elevating your sister. If we can agree that this is the best representation of feminism, we won’t have this debate being used as a wedge in the movement.

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