3 years and a couple of weeks ago, i discovered feminism. it changed my mind and my life. it gave me the words to express the feelings i’d had for years, about why i didn’t like certain movies, or felt uncomfortable playing into certain roles/stereotypes, even when i knew it would get me what i wanted. i had been the “exceptional woman/girl” in a group of men/boys – the one who wasn’t like most women, and thus was allowed into the boy’s club. and, while it was fun to be in the club, i always knew i wasn’t a full member. i was always someone’s girlfriend, or someone’s crush, or someone’s kid sister. i never thought too hard about it, but my hackles went up sometimes, and i got tired of listening to these men bash “women” when i knew most of the women in their lives and knew that they were all incredibly supportive and wonderful.
it wasn’t until the 2008 election season, when i had to listen to a horrible co-worker call hillary clinton “her thighness” and defend horrible emails about the pretty republican women vs the ugly democratic women, that i started looking for something to support my strong feelings that this wasn’t right. i googled “hillary clinton sexism”, or something, similar, and ran smack dab into a wall of evidence via melissa mcewan’s sexism watch*. it was mind-blowing. finding her blog was like finding water in the desert, to overuse a simile. i didn’t know how badly i needed it until i started devouring every post and following her blog roll to other blogs, full of other young women saying that the fight i thought the old women had fought and won was still going.
i can’t overestimate how important this discovery has been. it’s given me a renewed sense of purpose in my entire life. my friends will tell you that i’ve always been able to find a reason to argue, but i’ve never felt like my reasons were GOOD until now. i’m sure that i sound like the stereotypical feminazi, always looking for something to be angry about, and i’m PROUD of that. fuck people thinking that being angry about inequality is somehow not cool or not worthy of my emotion. HALF the world’s population is regularly treated as less than, in ways ranging from 1st world slights, such as every god damned rom-com hollywood puts out, to virtual and literal slavery for women and girls in both developed and developing countries.
anger can be a positive thing, when you use to make a difference, which is what i, and millions of other women in this country and the rest of the world are trying to do today. today, we declare, in public, that we are feminists – that we claim that word and all of the positive and negative imagery and controversies that come with it. we are not perfect. our forerunners in the fight were not perfect, and fucked up a lot, especially with regards to intersectionality of race and queer issues. but we are still fighting. we’re fighting for ourselves and for you. it does not matter if you identify as a woman or not. we are fighting for you. because, above all things, feminism is about making sure that EVERYONE is treated as a human being, with full and equal access to all the opportunities that every other human being has. we start with women, because they are overwhelmingly mistreated, but our efforts affect everyone who comes in contact with a woman.
i know what it’s like to fear labels. but this is a label i wear with pride, and i hope a few more people become aware of its power today.
*when i found it in February, it was in part 60-something. by the end of the election, it was well into the 100s and was still going strong.