"I'm not a feminist, but..."

A friend of mine started her sentence this way as we discussed the Akin "legitimate rape" debacle. I wanted to laugh and ask her just what she thought a feminist was. I didn't, we kept talking, and she sounded about as feminist as I am, which is to say, Votes-for-Women! feminist, but not Who-needs-men? feminist.

Feminism has a skewed reputation. Until a year or two ago, even I thought "feminist" inherently referred to combat boots and a ban on skirts. I happen to like skirts (and wish I could find a lab-suitable skirt as practical as my blue jeans), and I happen to like being a Mrs. John Smith. Still, I now call myself a feminist.

There's a catch to that. I don't announce that I'm a feminist. Most folks just don't understand, and they'd peg me as a stereotype, or insist that I don't fit said stereotype, so I couldn't possibly be what I say I am.

All the same, I'm a feminist.

As I said before, I'm a Votes-for-Women! feminist. An "anything boys can do, girls can do too" feminist. I believe in equality, not supremacy. I believe in individuals. Let (strong) women be firefighters, and do not pass them over for weaker men. Let men raise their children without the surprise or scorn of their neighbors. Judge each person by the content of their character, not what hides between their legs.

I am a feminist because I believe in women, and I believe they, as a group, haven't yet gotten their due.

Perhaps a better term would be "equalist." I believe in equitable treatment for all. Our strengths, weaknesses and experiences differ, but when a stranger meets me, I should be treated the same as the next person, without prejudice. I should not have to fight against false expectations based on my appearance.