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I am 16 years old and ever since an experience I had I have been interested in feminism/women's rights. The event happened last year when I was working on houses in Mexico on a mission project. Some boys started making fun of girls making remarks that we couldn't handle the work load so on so forth and something I guess clicked inside of me. I stood up to these older guys and let it all out. They started calling me a "feminist", and I didn't know what to say. They used the term as if it were a bad thing, which I know it is not. Ever since then, I seem more outspoken to men than usual. I feel women have so much to offer and shouldn't be constantly degraded by pornography, the media's image, and by males who choose to live in a world long gone. The world I speak of is a woman should cook and clean and raise the kids and that is all.

My teacher even today read an article he found in a 1970 Home Economics book of the "perfect" wife. This description fell directly under the stereotype we women are trying so hard to steer from. Most people laughed.. I just sat and thought.. (I also got a little mad). The bible has a verse that says wives should submit to their husbands, which is I believe the root to our inequality. This verse doesn't talk of men submitting to their wives. I brought this up at our youth group, but it seems they wouldn't talk outside what was supposed to be said. Well.. that is what troubles I am facing today and I don't know how to take reasonable action without being called a "feminist" since the term is used so harshly within my society. I do believe we are all the same yet different individuals with so much to offer in God's eyes.. I just feel maybe he has made so that I feel more strongly about who I am and how I should be, Someone who believes in theirself, their strengths and individuality... as a woman. - Angie

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. Every day I receive many letters that ask me "what is feminism." From now on, I think I am going to start with your definition: "we are all the same yet different individuals with so much to offer." I think that feminists are trying to move society to a place of understanding just that. The reality is, a white woman may have more in common with a Puerto Rican man than she does with a white man. That's because we are each individuals with individual experiences. Those experiences are, of course, influenced by things such as race, gender, income, etc... --but because there are so many things influencing it--the emphasis needs to be on the individual not on these categories. I say that all as of a way of affirming what you seem to already know.

As for the term feminist--I think that we need to reclaim the term--and the best way to do that is to live by example and don't shy away from the term. Even if it's hard to use the word, your actions will speak louder than words--and eventually the word will be easier to use.

I hope that helps you to know that you are not alone. Just as you had your "click"--the moment you realized you couldn't take it anymore--hopefully, others will have that click, too. The result will be that the world is a better place--because we will each be individuals living our individual lives and valued and respected in them. Thanks for writing.