“Are you a feminist?” asked a female co-worker of mine.

I didn’t expect the question and didn’t know how to respond. It was a subject I had thought about for years. When I was in my earlier teens, the answer would have been a vehement and resounding, “Yes—yes, I am a feminist!”

As I got a little older and started to see the darker side of modern-day feminism, however, I wasn’t too sure. Mainstream feminism has become a bitter, ungrateful, and in my opinion ineffective shadow of its former self.

When I was younger and thought of feminism, I thought about women like Margaret Thatcher, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Condoleezza Rice, and so many other strong and empowered women. I looked up to these women as role models and standards. These were women who were hardworking, revolutionary, caring, and strong. To me, that represented true feminism.

Once I got older, I saw a very different picture of “feminism” on social media and on mainstream news shows. The “feminists” I would see emulated on these platforms often talked as if they were trapped and weak. I heard these women talking about women as warriors in one breath, but in the same breath say we were victims of systematic oppression. If we dared believe otherwise, we were deemed as unable to think for ourselves. One example of this was Hillary Clinton’s comments about women who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. I heard former Secretary of State Clinton and other women on these platforms tearing other women down instead of building them up simply for having different ideas about politics and policy. Then, I saw and still see women who are running for political office claim that killing another human being is a woman’s right and the pinnacle of female empowerment.

I could go on. Yes, I could continue to give other problematic examples of modern feminism, but I believe that you understand my point. In fact, you are probably quite familiar with other so-called feminist claims. When I heard these women talk or read their words, I did not feel empowered, strong, capable, or confident. Rather, I felt powerless, isolated, and devoid of hope. I was fed the lie that, if I disagreed with the left and their definition of feminism, then I was not a feminist, and I was then deemed a sexist, racist, and bigot. This is not feminism. This is group think guised as feminism.

In its purest form, feminism is the belief that women and men were created equally by God, and neither should be denied opportunities because of their gender. Both sides of the aisle can agree on this. So, yes, you can be a feminist and a Republican, Conservative, or Libertarian.

Feminism is not telling others they are ignorant just because they disagree with you.

It is not aborting innocent children.

Lastly, it is not claiming that there are no differences between men and women.

Modern feminism has failed.

But the feminism of women like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Margaret Thatcher, and Condoleezza Rice did not.

There is still time to return to this type of feminism—a feminism that empowers women to make informed and practical decisions for their lives. Many of the early suffragettes knew that abortion was wrong and hurtful to women. They recognized the differences between the genders. No, they didn’t call other women horrible insults for disagreeing with their political and social opinions. They saw women capable of doing incredible things inside and outside the home. These women wanted to give women choices and options, as well as a chance to express their political opinions.

There is still a place for true feminism. This rings especially true in the Middle East where women are denied the right to show their faces and drive. However, as long as we claim feminism is about abortions and denying the differences between men and women, we will not be able to advance or help our fellow females in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. As long as women are treated badly because of a difference of opinion, we will not be able to truly have equality and an honest discussion about injustice and freedom. This is how we can reform feminism.

I will call myself a feminist for the simple reason that I am one by definition, and should my co-worker or anyone else ask me again, I can tell them yes and why.

Abbie is a Christian, Conservative, coffee lover, and book nerd who loves America. She has three dogs, and loves British TV shows.

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