“Feminism” is a divisive and controversial word in the world today.
When it comes to feminism, there are those who align themselves with vocal feminists like Gloria Steinem, Lena Dunham, or Jill Filipovic and those who simply don’t want to consider themselves feminists.
But then there are women like me — and there are many of us — who don’t fit neatly into either of those sides. We are the women who consider ourselves feminists, but also have respect for all human life from conception.
My journey with feminism began at a very young age. I come from a strong family, filled with powerful, tenacious women. They taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to, that as a woman I had the power to change the world.
My mother was the poster child for feminism. She worked her way up from a telephone operator at Michigan Bell (now AT&T) and became one of the first female telephone installers in Michigan, a job that was long considered for “men only.” She had a great career, traveled the world, got married at 34 and had four kids. My mom exemplifies the idea that women really can have it all.
Although my mom was a feminist raised in the ’60s and ’70s amid the sexual revolution and the legalization of abortion, she always believed that women deserved better than abortion, that every life was precious, no matter how small.
My parents instilled that same mindset within my siblings and me, which is how I came to see myself as a pro-life feminist.
Growing up, I saw feminism and being pro-life as inseparable. That women can create, grow and birth children is incredible and never understood how abortion could be seen as empowering to any woman.
As I got older and became involved in politics as a teenager, I began to see that not every feminist saw things the same as me. I started to feel like an outlier.
I became interested in politics because I had a passion for people and wanted to promote the protection of all human life regardless of age, sex, race or religion. I saw issues like immigration, the economy, and education through the pro-life lens. I wanted to do everything in my power to promote the dignity of every human life.
Many feminists appreciated that I was involved in other issues, but the second that abortion came up, I became an outcast. I’ve had friends break off friendships because of my beliefs and have been segregated at family parties. That may seem trivial, but as a young woman finding her voice and place, there were times these interactions were devastating.
The more I invested myself in politics, the more I found myself in situations like this. Looking back, I now see these were the instances that made me stronger and led me to where I am today. There are many women who have felt the same way, and it’s time for this to change.
A few months ago, my friends and I experienced the type of public discrimination that we never expected. When the plans started coming together for the Women’s March on Washington, a few friends and I decided we were going to bring the issue that we care most about to Washington, D.C.: life.
As pro-life feminists, we were launched into the forefront after The Atlantic ran a story about our plans to join the Women’s March. Shortly after the story, we were publicly “unwelcomed” by the Women’s March that had so strongly said “all are welcome” and claimed “inclusivity.”
Updated on Monday, January 16 at 4:05 p.m. Pro-life women are headed to D.C. Yes, they’ll turn out for the annual March…www.theatlantic.com
We were told that we couldn’t join, that we aren’t feminists simply because we are pro-life. We marched anyway.
This was a huge missed opportunity and has unfortunately become a regular occurrence. You either follow the crowd, or you’re publicly shamed and segregated.
The Women’s March is case in point. Can you imagine how historic and powerful it would have been if the Women’s March had remained steadfast in their claim that “all are welcome” and allowed all women to participate?
In the current political climate, we don’t need more division or vitriol, we need more honest dialogue and understanding. We have the power to change that.
Women often don’t recognize their value and the power we have, individually or together. Every woman is a one-girl revolution and has the power to change the world.
If we stood together, it would be a real revolution.
Originally published at WaPo’s The Lily.