But instead, I want to talk about my little sisters. I have five of them.
That makes six of us (plus our one brother, God bless him). And my parents have done an excellent job raising strong, independent daughters. We were never told that we couldn't be or do anything simply because we were girls. We were raised to pursue our dreams, think critically, and yell about theology at the dinner table. I wish my parents' messages were the only ones my little sisters were receiving.
But I know they're not. Because they're not the only messages I received either. In spite of my parents' best intentions, I picked up a few other messages along the way as well, whether through friends, the media, even church. Messages about my position relative to men, about the danger of my body, about submission to authority, about what I needed to be and do and look like to be acceptable to God and his people.
And you know what? Those messages screwed me over on more than one occasion. I don't want them to screw my little sisters over too.
Not only that, but one in six American women will be a victim of sexual assault at some point in their life. (EDIT: These are just the number of sexual assaults that get reported. The actual numbers are probably much higher.) There are six daughters in my family. If statistics are correct, that's at least one of us. And that is a sobering thought. I hope it's something my family never has to face. But if this kind of tragedy ever happens to one of my little sisters, I do not want them to be asked questions like*:
*These are all questions that I have either heard Christians ask, or victims of sexual assault have told me that Christians asked them.
I do not want them to be loaded up with shame by ignorant people who think that a woman who is a victim of sexual assault must have been "asking for it" somehow. I do not want them to be led to believe for even a moment that God is angry with them for what happened. I want them to be hugged, affirmed, reassured, fought for, protected, healed, lifted up, and loved. I want them to be told that Jesus would never treat them that way, that their pain is the opposite of his will, that the only person at fault is the person who hurt them.
Yesterday I argued that feminism is the radical notion that women are people. Which is true: feminism says that you are a person. But feminism also says that you are still a person, even if other people have treated you like you are not.
So feminism is for all the women in the world. Feminism is for all the men in the world. Feminism is for people of various religions, races, and sexual orientation. Feminism is actually for everyone. But feminism is especially for me and my little sisters.
This post is part of the three-day Feminisms Fest linkup, which today is being hosted at From Two to One. Please do yourself a favor and peruse the other blogs participating; they are really wonderful and encouraging. Join the discussion by adding your own blog to the linkup or on Twitter using the hashtag #femfest!