Lots of young fems making lists today. I’m joining in!
Why am I a young feminist?
- Because I will not give up my right to choose. And yes, I do think that right is in danger.
- Because I hate knowing how likely it is that I’ll have to choose between having a family and having a career.
- Because, even if I choose “career” (see bullet two), I know I’ll have to work harder and make less than my male colleagues.
- Because I do not accept that women deserve maltreatment and abuse simply because they are women.
- Because I don’t think that birth control is a “women’s” issue or safe sex shouldn’t be encouraged.
- Because it’s absurd to think that a woman cannot be trusted to make her own decisions.
- Because equality has not been achieved yet. And because I’m hopeful that it can be.
- Because there are women all over the world – who call themselves feminists, who call themselves something else, who just call themselves women or men or whatever they choose – who agree.
I’m comfortable calling myself a feminist and have been doing so for some time. But I understand the hesitation many young women have about publicizing their own feminist views by openly embracing the label. I find myself having to explain the word, over and over, to people who don’t think they understand it or agree (when they probably do!). I have to justify why I feel that, yes, feminism as a movement is still important – even in 2010. I have to explain why I don’t think Sarah Palin can call herself a feminist, and why women politicians deserve criticism from their female peers – no, just because you and I share a gender does not mean that I agree with your views, and I will not support you, regardless of your gender, if I feel that you’re holding women back or taking away their choices.
I’m comfortable asserting this online and (thankfully) at work. Here’s the rub, and something that, in the spirit of this blog carnival, I’ll admit even though I’m really not proud of it: in my personal life, I find myself keeping it quiet. “I’m Katie, and I’m a feminist” is not the first thing I’ll advertise when I meet someone new. When I hear friends make sexist or misogynistic statements or jokes, I catch myself – not always, but often enough – keeping quiet instead of piping up to point out what’s wrong with what they just said. I try not to go off on long rants about sexist politicians and celebrities at parties (this, however, is not always successful) and find it easier for everyone if I keep these opinions to myself. I put a lid on the frustration I feel when my mother preaches about abstinence and judges friends of mine who are living with their boyfriends or who are pregnant. When I don’t, it can seem like I’m putting someone down or being overly sensitive or bossy. It ruins the mood. It starts arguments. It makes people uncomfortable.
There are plenty of times when I don’t think I should have to start ranting away. During a movie, or when we’re watching TV? There are some obviously sexist, racist, discriminatory things on the screen – often expressed shamelessly. Wouldn’t my rants just be pointing out the obvious? Everyone else has to see the same things I do, don’t they? And jokes are just jokes – surely my friends don’t actually feel this way. Surely not all women want to be objects and want to play into stereotypes and outdated, sexist, cultural norms. Surely not all men want them to. Right? Please tell me I’m right.
But I’m not. And that’s the hard part – that’s where I’m not doing any favors for a movement I love, for a word and an idea that’s changed my life like it’s changed so many others. The little things count. My voice counts. And I shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to use it, even when it might not be “appropriate” or it might someone a little uncomfortable. When it brings the conversation to a dead halt. When it might make my mother nervously change the subject.
What does a feminist look like? Sometimes she’s passionate, opinionated and a little too quiet. So here’s my Women’s Equality Day resolution: to pipe up and say what I feel all the time. And I’d encourage you, young fems and everyone else struggling with this, to do the same. Seems so easy, but I’ll be the first to tell you that it takes guts. Mostly lungs.
Thank you, Fair and Feminist, for hosting the THIS IS WHAT A YOUNG FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE blog carnival today! Check out all the posts here and join in.