I recently met a few young women leaders during mock interviews, and I was so impressed and proud of their poise and knowledge when answering questions on a wide array of topics. They are leaps and bounds beyond where I was at their age, and that gives me so much hope for our future!
Yet, when a panelist asked one intelligent, confident woman, “Are you a feminist?” she hesitated. She glanced down; then, almost apologetically, she admitted that she was.
When we reviewed her performance, I asked her why she answered that way, and she explained that the term “feminism” has a negative connotation.
I asked, “Do you believe that men and women are equal, that people should get equal pay for equal work?” and she said, “Yes, of course.” I responded, “Then you are a feminist. Own it, and do not hesitate.”
I, myself, once had difficulty admitting I was a feminist. The word does have a stigma and is negatively associated and frequently misunderstood. I urge everyone (men included) to take the word back and strongly stand by our beliefs that women are equal, not subordinate, to men and therefore deserve equal legal rights, pay, treatment, access, etc.–without taking anything away from men.
Especially here in Idaho, we need to own it. In a new report from WalletHub, Idaho ranks second to last of the 50 states for women’s equality. So what do we do about it? It starts with more women stepping up to lead in government and in businesses, to pave the way as examples and mentors. This year, as elsewhere, Idaho has a record number of women running for office, and we will elect our first female lieutenant governor.
We need to elect the right woman for this historic first–the one who will move us forward, not set us back. The one who stands up for women and does not support or admire men who denigrate or objectify women. The feminist who will be the example of strong and capable leadership.
So, everyone, especially in these of all times, when asked if you’re a feminist, do not hesitate. Own it. Of course, you expect equal treatment. Of course, women and men are equal. Of course, Idaho women deserve better.