Why am I a Feminist?

'Still I Rise' is a poem by poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Why am I a feminist? I’m a feminist because I believe that all people deserve equal rights, equal access, and equal opportunity. I’m also a feminist because we’ve not yet created a world where every child can grow up with these equalities.

Achieving this vision of equality means a complete restructuring of our society. And though it’s hard to believe, this restructuring has been happening.

By listening to the stories of the long-time feminist activists featured in the smallest steps, and by reading and learning about the history of feminism, I’ve come to realize how revolutionary it is just for women to be seen as more than property. It may no longer seem revolutionary to those of us who have grown up with more rights than our fore-sisters, but when you think about it in terms of life-spans, Canadian women (and even then, not all Canadian women) were only given the right to vote one grandma and a quarter ago (presuming grandma lives to 80). In 1964, the Married Women’s Property Act was signed by the last province, Quebec, finally granting married women the same legal rights as men, including the right to buy property and enter into legal agreements separate from their husbands (that’s in your grandma’s lifetime). Further, less than forty years ago spousal sexual assault became illegal. Depending on how old you are, that’s pretty much in your mother’s lifetime.

Before all these milestone achievements occurred, women had very few rights and were basically viewed as property (not in all societies and cultures, and not necessarily back to the beginning of human existence, but at least in Western society for a very long time…). So it IS revolutionary for women to be getting rights now, even if it is 2020. 

And this is why I’m a feminist. Because we’re not done when it comes to achieving equal rights, access, and opportunity for all. But I take heart in the stories the feminist movement has to offer. Because one thing is true: We’re making progress as quick as lightening in the grand scheme of human existence, so I say — let’s keep the fire burning!

Happy International Women’s Day all!

Nicole Bedford