I wasn’t raised to become a feminist. Instead, I stumbled into it. Feminism was the logical response to a world that told me I was less than simply by being born a girl.
I was raised in a Christian family. We attended an evangelical church that frequently segregated Sunday school classes and youth group activities by gender. During the Sunday sermon, It wasn’t uncommon for the pastor to use the privilege of his pulpit to remind us women of our proper role in a good Christian household: we were to be nurturing mothers and obedient wives, always submissive to our husbands.
It wasn’t so much that I accepted feminism at face value, it was more that it provided an alternative to the Christian interpretation of womanhood. I had dreams bigger than a kitchen and I wasn’t about to settle for anything less than that.
Most people think liberal college classrooms turn women into feminists. That might be true for some but it wasn’t the case for me. Instead, my job turned me into one.
When I entered the workforce I watched as unqualified male colleagues received promotions faster than I did. One earned more than me, not because he deserved it, but because he lied about his qualifications on his resume. Others were groomed for advancement. When a female manager vacated her position to go on maternity leave they were ready and waiting in the wings to assume her role.
It wasn’t the patriarchy itself that offended me — it was its math. Even though I worked just as hard as the guys, I made a fraction of what they did. I still had to pay rent and it’s not like prices at the grocery store are adjusted for gender discrimination. I made a woman’s wage in a man’s world which left me running deficits every single month.
I sought out professional women’s organizations as a place of refuge. I joined a Lean In Circle to learn how to negotiate my salary and navigate office politics. I joined a women’s-only coworking space to build a network of women I believed would be my allies. And when it turned political, I marched on the streets of Washington to demand equality.
I never wanted to be a feminist. I just wanted a fair shake. I wanted the same opportunity as men to contribute to the world and be respected for it. I became a feminist because I…