Monday, August 22, 2011

How I Learned I was a Feminist

Hey everyone! Tami somehow roped me into contributing here, and since I'm going to make an effort to do that on a somewhat regular basis, I figured I should introduce myself. My name is Caitlin, I'm 26, and I live in Tami's backyard (it's a long story). Here is my feminist click moment!

This whole world of feminism is all very new to me. I know almost absolutely nothing about it, yet I think I am one. And I think I SHOULD be one. But am I any good at it? Probably not yet, but that is why I am learning!

It was not very long ago that a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless, though I’m sure you could guess) started becoming interested in this strange concept called “feminism.” She started scolding me for using words like “bitch” or “slut.” She started pointing out and getting offended by sexist comments and jokes that she heard. She started going on slightly “holier-than-thou” tirades about women, equality, sexism, blah, blah, blah… I had NO idea where all this was coming from.

Here is a brief summary of several conversations we’ve had.

“WTF is up with all this feminism nonsense?” I ask.

“It’s not nonsense and I can guarantee you that you are already a feminist,” she tells me.

For some reason feminism was a scary word, a label that I didn’t quite like the feel of when it rolled off her tongue. In fact, it is something that I am still getting used to. If I had to describe myself in 3 words, I do not think feminist would make the list.

Anyway, I replied with a “How am I a feminist?”

“You believe that women and men should be paid equally for the same jobs, right?” And I of course said yes. “Well then, you’re a feminist” she tells me.

What? ME? A crazy femi-nazi? I don’t think so, that’s not feminism, that’s just wanting equality!

She asks me, “What do you think feminism IS exactly?”

[Insert all sorts of stereotypes about feminism]

To all of which she replied “Um, no. Here, read this book.”

And she handed me Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti.

I read it and I found it interesting. I read it and I found I agreed with things. I read it and I disagreed with things. I read it and found some things hard to swallow. I read it and got SO PISSED OFF about things. I think I may have even teared up a bit here or there. But seriously, it got me thinking.

Why do I feel that feminism is a four letter word?

Why do I want to lose weight, wear make-up, etc? Is it ok that I still enjoy reading Cosmo (because I do)?

Why do I feel the need to call women bitches or sluts? Do I really mean what I’m saying? What AM I saying exactly?

Seriously, my brain was freaking out for a while. In fact, I am still sorting this entire thing out.

So, here goes. Feminism noob takes on the world!

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post! It brightened my day (and I can definitely relate to it).

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  2. Sending a fistbump of solidarity your way, if you'd like it. I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember, and sometimes my brain still freaks out. Being able to ask yourself, "Whoa, where did that thought come from?" is an endlessly useful skill!

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  3. I had a very similar click moment late last year. It's a wild ride for the first few months as you continually trip over your old assumptions. Hold on to your hat!

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  4. Go, Caitlin! I didn't really have a definitive click-moment so much as a series of build-up events that led to a gradual realization, but I am totally relating anyway. The first time I actually called myself a feminist -- goodness, it feels weird to realize it -- was 7 years ago. It's a sometimes-difficult, mostly exhilarating, very often maddening, and always-FABULOUS journey. Welcome!

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