We're not going anywhere.
They call us bitches.
We're too forward, or too loud. They say we're not ladylike. That we should shut up and sit down. And we should be content with what we've got — what else do we want, anyway? They say we're trying to be men. They say we hate men.
But we say we're strong women, and they can go to hell.
The internet glorifies strong women while slut-shaming out the other side of its mouth. That's because strong feminist women are threatening. We do things differently: We challenge outdated ideas. We mess with accepted paradigms. We're different, and we're not afraid to flaunt it. That's what makes us who we are.
1. We don't accept only one life path as authentic.
Rosie the Riveter glorifies women in the workforce. So do many strains of feminism, which argue that women must find fulfillment in working outside the home. Strong feminists know that women can find fulfillment in lots of places, not just in paid work.
Choice means just that: choice. And choice means that some women will decide to stay home and take care of their children. Some will stay home and take care of their cats. Some will write poetry that will never see the light of day. Strong feminist women accept these all as valid life choices.
2. We don't presume children as a given.
Some people are meant to be mommies. Some people aren't. Strong feminists regard the child-free choice as an authentic means of living. We don't see children as the only means of fulfillment, nor do we see them as a necessary part of life.
We don't ask questions like, "When are you going to have a baby?" or "Don't you think not having kids is selfish?" Nor do we look down on women who get really into the procreation thing. All of them are choices. All of them are valid.
3. We believe in the diversity of the female body.
Strong feminists know that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, in all colors and ethnicities. We don't buy into the Barbie doll aesthetic, and we don't shame women with the stereotypical "perfect" body.
Strong, feminist women don't fat shame, and they don't look down on stretch marks, or police whose body earns them the "right" to wear a bikini. We accept postpartum bodies and don't push new moms to lose the baby weight. We honor the beauty of all bodies.
4. We embrace bodily autonomy.
Strong, feminist women know that their body is their own, and they have the right to say how it's touched, used, and adorned. Strong feminist mamas are the ones telling their children they have the right to refuse hugs and letting the kids decide how to cut their hair.
Strong, feminist women step out of forced kisses and awkward, creepy hugs. When sexual harassment happens, we report it. We know that no one has the right to touch us without our consent, and that includes our partners. We don't owe sex to anyone.
5. We understand one person's politeness is another person's oppression.
Some women like having the door held for them. Some women feel it's a comment on their strength and position in the world. Neither one is wrong, and we recognize that there's space for all of these feelings.
6. We're politically aware.
We take an active interest in politics. While most women fall on the liberal end of the spectrum, we know that choices are personal. There's no one litmus test for feminism. We know our political choices will impact others, so we're aware and be informed.
A strong feminist knows that with great power comes great responsibility. We believe in an obligation to be politically active — at the very least, to vote.
7. We believe in personal choice.
As long as your choices are yours, and they're personal and informed and make you express yourself in the way that makes you the most YOU, they're a feminist act. A hijab or a nun's habit are as feminist as a shaved head, an updo, or a badass weave.
You are the arbiter of what's right and good for you — not your parents, not society, not the internet, and not your partner. That means that one woman's feminism might look a lot different from another's. That's part of what makes us so awesome.
8. We keep out the toxic.
We recognize that shame, doubt, and guilt are the traditional weapons used against women, and resist using them against ourselves and others. That means we don't let ourselves be guilted into acts solely to please others (our parents, our partners).
We recognize toxic relationships: relationships that strip us of our agency, make us feel small, or run on shame, doubt, and guilt. Strong feminists work hard at breaking out of those relationships and replacing them with new, healthy ones.
These things aren't easy. Practicing them takes time, and no one's perfect at it. But the real mark of a strong feminist is that she keeps trying, keeps striving, keeps working both for herself and her little corner of the world.
They might call us bitches. But if bitch means game-changer, we'll take it.