“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. And some have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
I have no doubt that Courtney Kincaid was born great. And she certainly achieved a degree of greatness – after all, she became the director of the Hood County Public Library in Granbury, Texas. But when two books in her library were challenged because of their LGBTQ+ content, the opportunity to show her greatness was thrust upon her.
It wasn’t easy.
But whoever said standing up for what’s right is easy? Sometimes you have to find strength within yourself that you didn’t even know existed. I have a feeling that’s exactly what Courtney had to do. And I admire, respect, and honor her for that.
I wanted to know how Courtney would respond to the question, “What does feminism mean to you?” Here’s what she said:
I am a feminist.
Merriam Webster defines “feminism” as: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It does not define the term as hating men or thinking women are better than men. A male being a feminist is not a negative thing. These are just a couple of the most frustrating things about people’s misconception of what feminism means. Figuring out if you are or aren’t a feminist should not be a difficult task. Do you believe that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities? Yes? Congratulations, you are a feminist!
Feminism, for me, began in my early 20s. I became a feminist without truly understanding what it meant to be a feminist. While in my early 20s I became a security officer and I applied for a supervisor position. I was told during my interview that I was qualified (I was pursuing my degree in Criminal Justice) and would make a great supervisor, but because I’m a woman, I wouldn’t get the position. They needed a man for this position. So instead, the position went to the male who applied. I was appalled. At that very moment, I understood how the world sadly worked. This was a man’s world and I needed to carve my way into it somehow and create a ripple of change. The next time the supervisor position opened, I applied again, listed all my qualifications, and I reminded the interviewer that it was not a fair statement in my previous interview about the statement that I wouldn’t receive the job because I’m a woman. Whether I received the supervisor position or not based on my qualifications or fear of being sued, I’m not sure. But I’m still glad I called him out for his misogynistic attitude.
I believe women and men should get paid equally for equal work. Wage inequality, in 2017, is still happening. Pew Research states that in a 2013 survey (which was updated in 2017 to reflect more recent data), “Women were about twice as likely as men to say they had been discriminated against at work because of their gender (18% vs. 10%).
I am a feminist.
I’m tired of women being called sluts, prudes, or bitches. If women have more than a handful of lovers her entire life, she’s a slut. If she won’t give you any, she’s a prude. If she exerts her professional opinion in a meeting, tells the truth, rejects someone, or maybe even makes someone, inadvertently, feel intimidated, she’s a bitch. I’ve been called all the above in different circumstances. I don’t ever recall men being commonly name-called the equivalent terms.
I am a feminist.
Every single woman I know, including myself, can tell at least one story about a man feeling entitled to her body somehow. There is now a sex robot with “frigid” settings to allow men to simulate rape. The article states from a survey, that it’s better to rape robots than people. Others believe this will only encourage rapists to rape more.
An interesting side-note from the website: the female robot ($9,9950.00 + add-ons) includes pictures and many choices for everything. For the male robot (same price), there are no pictures and just a drop-down menu of very few choices. Of course!
Why is this “frigid” (read: rape) setting acceptable? Why are we letting this be acceptable? And more important questions: why is this allowed in a modern society and what can we do to stop it?
I am a feminist.
I believe women should be able to decide what is best for their own bodies. I do not want a meeting full of white, older men deciding how to regulate women’s bodies and reproductive systems. I want to choose what procedures need to be done for myself with my doctor. My female friend can choose procedures with her doctor. This doesn’t mean I’m “pro” anything. It only means that it’s not my decision or yours how women choose their health procedures and remedies. It only means it will be her choice along with her doctor’s.
I am a feminist.
If lesbians and bisexuals can control their feelings around a classmate with her blouse showing her collarbone, boys should be able to control themselves, too. If they can’t, then that’s their problem and needs to be fixed and controlled before it becomes a woman’s problem. This may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things but if we allow this type of thinking early on, it can escalate into problems in our student’s futures.
I could probably write a dissertation on this topic, but perhaps I’ll save that for a lengthy blog post later. I’d like to close with a couple of my favorite quotes about feminism and from two people who I truly admire, Malala Yousafzai and Maya Angelou. For women, education is power. We need to, as Sheryl Sandberg says, “lean in” and scoot up to the table. We need to speak up and speak out, especially for those who cannot for whatever reason. We need to get involved in government, become fair and intelligent politicians, working across both aisles, being an advocate for women’s rights and equality.
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.” – Malala Yousafzai
“I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.” – Maya Angelou
WOW. Thank you, Courtney! I love that you’re not afraid to call yourself a feminist. Because being a feminist is a beautiful and powerful thing.
Courtney Kincaid is a mother, wife, advocate, and public librarian. In 2015 she dealt with a very public and political book censoring situation involving author, Gayle Pitman’s children’s book, This Day in June, along with Cheryl Kilodavis’ children’s book, My Princess Boy. She is the recipient of the 2015 I Love My Librarian award and the 2016 NCTE Honorable Mention for the National Intellectual Freedom award. She can be reached on Twitter @ckthelibrarian.
FEMINISM FROM A to Z is now available for preorder!