I just found out this is a thing. So I’m dedicating myself to writing about it because… SURPRISE I’m a feminist. Just kidding, that’s probably not much of a surprise. At least, I hope it’s not. I think I’ve been fairly forthcoming about that tidbit.
I’ve been a feminist since I found out about the word. It wasn’t so much of a choice so much as a duhhh. I have a vagina. I am a person. I believe in human equality. Feminist. Duh.
It wasn’t until I left my beautiful college bubble of happiness that I realized the reality not everyone believes women deserve equal rights… or they think equality has already arrived… It’s not just men. There are women who share that view. Don’t get me wrong. I was aware there were anti-feminists and the word “feminist” itself put a bad taste in people’s mouths. I wasn’t that naive. Ok, I’m secretly an idealist in my heart of hearts… So it was a sad day when reality arrived on my open, accepting doorstep.
Feminist is a buzzword. Guys who were super into me walked away when they heard me describe myself as a feminist. “But you shave your legs!” You’re so right, Mr. Dumbass. I do shave my legs. My feminism doesn’t tell women how to be women or men how to be men. I like rubbing my smooth legs between the bed sheets once every two weeks because that’s really about as much as I get around to shaving my legs… It’s a lazy thing not a feminist thing. “But you like to cook and bake!” I also like to eat good food! There’s a correlation. “Then… why do you wear dresses?” Because I hate pants.
I have been criticized for being a feminist by friends, family, parents, and colleagues. Traditional values and views run deep in people and culture. When pointing things out, I have been ostracized because I can’t “just accept they were trying to be nice.” Intentions, however good, don’t really matter when you’re causing pain, stress, or even harm. Just because it’s tradition or something that is said doesn’t make it ok. It doesn’t make it right. It’s a form of victim blaming. I said something, but I meant it in a good way, so just smile and nod.
I don’t want children. I don’t want to get married. When you tell me that I’ll change my mind if I meet the right man or get older or my clock starts ticking. a) You’re taking away my agency as a person. b) You think you know me better than I know myself, and the likelihood is that we just met, so shut up. c) I’m not 15. I’m a grown ass woman. d) It’s none of your business. e) You are perpetuating traditional gender roles that are quickly becoming outdated. f) Have you ever said that sentence to a man? Here’s the thing, I may change my mind! I may not! I may get married at 65. I may adopt kids when I’m 50, or I may die with a battalion of nieces and nephews. I may have children without a husband. I may get a hysterectomy and die alone with a dog. Either way, it’s not here yet! And what does it matter??? It’s my life. This is just one tiny example of a plentitude, and I haven’t even gone through all the reasons why telling me I’m wrong about my life is wrong!
Feminism is uniquely personal. Kind of like religion, one size does not fit all. My feminism is not my best friend’s feminism nor my neighbors nor that man’s over there. (Yes, men can be feminists too!) My feminism is open, accepting, intersectional, and inclusive. There’s a problem with white feminism. White women are not the only women. Straight women are not the only women. There are black women, gay women, asian women, bi women, trans women, native women, latinx, etc. Women make up 50.8% of the world. That’s more than half. We come in every shape, size, identity, sexuality, belief system, socio-economic status, ideology, etc. Unfortunately, feminism hasn’t historically taken much of this into account.
It sounds super cliché, but my personal brand of feminism is all about love. Love yourself for who you are. Love others for who they are. Love the differences between us all.