"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
June 26, 2014
Why I am Not a Feminist
by Hannah Bird

I am not a feminist.

I am not a feminist because I was the daughter of an educated woman who was also the daughter of an educated woman. My Mormon grandfather prized education so highly that he married a woman with much more education than he been able to receive. He taught all of his children that they would go to college. His girls were no exceptions.

I am not a feminist because I am a descendant of Martha Jane Knowlton Coray. She was an amazing woman. She was on the founding board of what became Brigham Young University.

I am not a feminist because my mother is made entirely of magic. She backpacked around the world. She saw a war. She has lived in New York City and a ranch in the wilds of Wyoming. She got her PhD with seven children in the house. She graduated with honors. She taught me how to hotwire a car. She got in an argument with a judge in court when she was a spectator and won.

I am not a feminist because I was raised by a father who dragged me into the same woods my brothers camped in. I can start a fire, find north, stay alive in the woods, and make a pretty good breakfast. I hate camping. But I can do it.

I am not a feminist because I was raised in the bright sunshine of my aunts. To this day they are amazing and terrifying. These six women were smart and educated. They are driven and dynamic. They have lived amazing lives and helped others to do the same.

I am not a feminist because I was raised in the good soil of uncles who picked those amazing women. I was taught to ride and shoot just like everyone else. Sure, I am rubbish at both, but this is not a function of my sex but rather a lack of depth perception.

I am not a feminist because my brothers treated me like a real person. We talked about everything. I was worth his time.

I am not a feminist because I married a man who really wanted a smart wife. He has always thought I know absolutely everything. Over the years people have made some rude assumptions about what this indicates about the management of our home. That has never bothered my husband. He never felt less because I was who I am.

I am not a feminist because the one time I had a priesthood leader tell me to do a wrong thing and double down by telling me he was saying that in the name of the priesthood, I had support when I told him to pound sand. Friends and family quietly and less quietly gave me support. Some time later, that leader’s own priesthood authority clarified that I had been right and thanked me for being unmoved.

I know women who had very different experiences. I know women for whom the world was closed by virtue of their gender. I know women who have been left out of their own lives because they were girls. I have heard comments that could break a woman’s heart if she wondered about her own worth. I know it happens. I know it happens today. I have heard it. My daughters have too.

I am not a feminist because while life has demanded much of me, my gender has never been a burden or a barrier. My gender never stood in the way of me filling the measure of my creation. Stupid comments could be only stupid and not hints of a larger truth.

My choices could be between me and my Father and not a foregone conclusion. I knew God had plans for me. Everything in my life bore testament to that.

I am fortunate. I am not a feminist because I never had to be.

Last year, a group of feminists organized to wear pants to church as an expression of their concerns. I wrote an article nitpicking what I saw as silliness.

Then a funny thing happened. When I was getting ready that Sunday morning, I put on a pair of pants. I didn’t do it because I needed make a statement. I did it in case someone needed me. If someone had a secret hurt I wanted make a place for them.

I am not a feminist. I am the woman who was shaped by all these chances to be wholly me.

I have hurt too, over other things. I was sheltered and loved, even as I thrashed about in pain. Friends and family who were not carrying my same burden chose to shoulder the burden of carrying me and my family.

This particular burden is not mine. So I am well rested. I do not feel your hurt so I am undaunted. I may not share your exact concerns. But because I have been given much, I too must give. I am loud and bossy and difficult. If you need the shelter of that, it’s yours.

There is still a place for you. Come sit by me.


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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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