“You want a revolution? I want a revelation.” - Hamilton: An American Musical
A lot of women - or people in general - have specific reasons why they choose to identify as a feminist.
I never really had a moment where I decided that I was a feminist. It was always a part of my identity, whether I knew the term or the history or the reasons why I should be one. I was raised by a strong woman to be a strong woman myself. My mum has never taken crap from anyone, much less a man insisting their dominance over women. She worked in an all-male warehouse and she was their manager. I think that growing up and seeing her in her office sort of solidified who I was meant to be. I’ve always thought girls had every right to be taken as seriously and treated the same as boys. Thankfully, that’s not something I ever had to wrestle with and I’m so grateful to have had a role model like my mum in my life.
It wasn’t until high school that I really came to grips with what it was that I was really standing for. Until then, I hadn’t been introduced at all to the concept of feminism. Funny enough, it was Tumblr that introduced me to feminism. Actually, it introduced me to a lot of human rights movements. The more I saw posts about this concept ‘feminism’, what it meant, and most importantly, why it existed, the more angry I got. Why were women subjected to this treatment? Why had women been fighting for so long and yet nothing had changed?
Simultaneously, I was reading about the Black Lives Matter movement and the mistreatment of POC. I was 13 years old when Trayvon Martin was murdered, so I was introduced to that at a very young age and it stuck with me ever since. Feminism has always been intersectional to me. I read once this quote in an essay by Flavia Dzodan that said, “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” That’s exactly how I’ve always viewed feminism. I didn’t know what the term “intersectional” was until I took a women’s history course in university, but I understood that feminism is not for just white, straight women. It’s for POC women, lesbian women, trans women, EVERY woman out there, no matter what.
In recent years, being a feminist has become a more important part of me. Being a teen and then entering adulthood in the midst of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements made it crucial for me to recognize who I am, and what I expect from this world and other people. As much as I hate that women are still fighting all these years later, after the suffrage movement and the women’s liberation movement, I’m slightly grateful that I’ve been able to witness it firsthand as it’s given me opportunity to take a stand. Every woman out there has had some experience where they’ve been sexually harassed and that’s just ridiculous to me.
Feminism has evolved over the years, and has come to include all women from all walks of life and all backgrounds. As a white, cisgender woman, I don’t experience nearly half the pain that other women do. I never will. However, I think it’s up to me and other women like me to bring attention to these women and their suffering, and to make the world pay attention. We have to be allies. If we’re out here only protecting ourselves, or women who look like us, then what is it all for? I take every opportunity to learn more about women’s history, paying particular attention to those who weren’t white, middle-class women. Being only 20 and having only spent about a quarter of my life aware of what’s going on in this world, it’s been a massive learning process but I’m happy to do it.
While my influence on the world might be very minimal, at least I’m doing something. If everyone out there did the same, it would make a massive difference.
Happy International Women’s Day!