Feminism Has Always Scared Me

I’ve never identified as a Feminist.

In fact, I’ve always identified as a Scared-of-Feminists.

For me, the word ‘Feminism’ has always been associated with confrontation, arguments, and assumptions about how I should feel regarding both my religious identity and my manner of dress.

I’ve always viewed the word ‘Feminism’ through a lens of apprehension – because I’ve been entirely happy with the way society treats me as a woman.

But recently, I think I’ve become one. A Feminist.

I’m not quite sure what that means, but… I’m pretty sure I’ve become one.

Because last weekend, I joined 250 healthcare practitioners at a psychopharmacology conference. The conference was amazing, with full days of lectures presented by leading educators/practitioners in the world of psychiatry and neurology.

It only took me a day and a half to realize that every single presenter was a 45+ year old white male MD.

Every presenter except for one.

There was one scheduled female Nurse Practitioner.  My friends (male and female) and I waited with anticipation. Because, we’re studying to be Nurse Practitioners.

We relate.

And the master of ceremonies had only great things to say as he introduced her, the first female and and first Nurse Practitioner to present at this conference.

And in his introduction, he went out of his way to mention the fact that she was a woman.

He mentioned it 3 times.

And then he said these amazing words of approbation:

“This is what it looks like when a woman gets it right in this business.”


I looked around the room. >60% of the conference attendees were female.

The lecturer approached the podium.

“Who here is from a nursing background?” She asked. About 60% of the room raised their hands.

“Ok, good. So, let’s begin.” And she presented.

She presented well.

Because ‘this is what it looks like when a woman gets it right in this field.’

I have no idea what it looks like when a man gets it right in this field, but I assume it is similar.

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Similar as in identical.

This woman was obviously extremely knowledgeable in her field.

And I thought about it. Everyone else who presented was an MD.  Just an doctor. This woman had the letters, DNP, PhD, ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, CPRP, and FAAN after her name.

This woman, in order to prove herself worthy as a presenter, was required to hold… 4-5 more degrees/certifications than the average male presenter.

Because this is what it looks like when a woman gets it right in this field.

And the Men? They just had to be good at what they did.

And it shouldn’t be like that.

Really. It shouldn’t.

Our lecturers should represent the room to whom they are lecturing.

Our lecturers should represent the future of medicine.

The present of medicine.

The present of medicine is Male and Female and gender fluid practitioners. The future of medicine is MDs, DOs, Nurse Practitioners, Physician’s Assistants.

I am in the process of completing my masters degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. What that means, essentially, is that upon the completion of my boards, I will be fully capable of assessing, diagnosing, planning interventions, and prescribing medications for psychiatric illnesses.

I will be prepared to treat clients. And treat clients well.

Not despite the fact that I am a woman. But in part, because of it.

I think that I’ve blessed to not ‘need’ feminism because I never realized that there was a gender divide.

Not really, at least.

From the ages of 13-23, I attended gender segregated schools. I was taught that women, that female energy, is an integral driving force of the universe. I was taught that we are different than men, but equal in our differences. That we have this incredible ability to impact. To enact. To enforce.

To influence.

I was raised with the concept that women, independent of men, are explosive.

I was taught that there is no such thing as, ‘she’s pretty strong… for a girl.’

Because Women are Strength.

Women and Men are all strength.

So, I don’t know what Feminism means.

But if it means being introduced as a capable practitioner, and not as a capable female, I’m game.