When I was in high school, I actually said the words, “I don’t think a woman can be president.” I had internalized so many stereotypes regarding women, and I truly believed that women were less competent than men, both in positions of power and in life. As I matured, I started to believe that women were equal, but there was nothing anyone could do to convince society of this. I thought that was just “the way it is.” And I CERTAINLY would never have called myself a feminist (those were the crazy bra-burners, right?). I never thought that in five years’ time, I would be blogging for JMU’s only feminist blog, or that feminism would become the lens through which I see the world.
My journey to feminism came about through self-education and some badass wo-mentors. As I began educating myself, I realized that the vague sense of inequality I felt in high school was not a product of my situation but society as whole. I realized that inequality is systematic, and society is specifically designed for certain groups of people and designed against others. A few very influential women in my life taught me a way to process the inequality and to do something about it—feminism. I began to embrace feminism as a way to engage in meaningful dialogue and to actively fight against these systems of inequality.
Looking at things at a macro-sociological level can be paralyzing. One of my favorite professors Matt Ezzell (see his interview for ShoutOut here) said that the first time he truly understood the extent of inequality in our society, he sat in his room and stared out the window thinking, “Everything is broken.” That sentiment rings truer and truer the more I educate myself; there is an insane amount of depressing shit in this world, and it can be very hard to handle. Feminism is the tool with which to solve those inequalities
Feminism has taught me countless things, but a few stand out above the rest. Feminism taught me to love unconditionally in the greatest sense of the term—that every human being regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or ability deserves to matter and be celebrated in this world. Feminism taught me to be intolerant of injustice. Above all, feminism taught me to hope hope. I hope for a brighter future for ALL humans, and I hope that we can raise the standards of our society to create a fairer lived experience.
When I think back to the person I was before feminism, I see a shadow of the person I am now. I am someone who is not afraid to question societal norms and call them out for being bullshit. I am someone who will fight, not just for myself but for all. And I am someone who embraces unconditional love and celebrates people for who they are. I am constantly revising my definition of feminism and what kind of feminist I am, but one thing remains consistent: feminism is a way of life I am glad to say I have lived. Thank you, ShoutOut community, for an incredible year of feminism. Post your own definition of feminism in the comments! And know that no matter what, you have a support system in me to question, fight, and love beside you.
Peace, Love & Feminism,