What a week! For those of you readers who just ended your spring breaks I’d like to give you an official welcome back! I hope your breaks were filled with friends, food, and a whole lotta whatever it is you like most.
“OMG, what did you do over break lucilleontheball?” Glad you asked!
Aside from missing an entire week of kick-ass ShoutOut! posts, I spent my break neck-deep in journaling, House of Cards (#Underwood2016), and of course the National Young Feminists Leadership Conference! The conference was filled with incredible speakers, panels, documentaries, and pineapple pizza.
Twas’ a feminist’s dream.
However, towards the end we were asked to voice our concerns about the conference and, to my surprise, many people spoke out. Their concerns were totally valid: lack of trigger warnings during panels, overwhelming uses of gender binary language, inappropriate political assumptions, lack of inclusiveness for women of color, etc., etc., etc.
I was completely blown away. Not to mention pretty ashamed that I, a self-proclaiming feminist, didn’t even pick up on these issues.
So what did all of this mean, I thought.
Okay, pause. Travel back in time with me to a week before the conference. I’m sitting in my room, trying to find an interesting topic for this week’s post, and I stumble upon a spoken word poem: “Pocket-Sized Feminism”. The name peaks my interest (also it’s POETRY) so I begin watching the video.
Second of all, the poem itself phenomenal. It describes this idea of “pocket-sized feminism” as believing in gender equality/identifying as a feminist, but only at times when it suits you best. For instance, the speaker uses the example of being at a party. She describes a women talking about feminism amidst a sea of “rape jokes, and snap-backs, and Styrofoam cups”. The speaker, also a feminist, looks at the women, gives her a sympathetic glance, but says nothing:
“I want to stand up but if I do,
Who’s coffee table silence will these boys rest their feet on?
I want to stand up but if I do,
What if someone takes my spot?
I am ashamed of keeping my feminism in my pocket until it is convenient not to”
Fast forward back to today (I’m so gonna watch Back to the Future after this), I can’t help but wonder if that’s my problem. Have I been picking and choosing the brands of feminism that are convenient only to me? Am I merely a pocket-sized feminist?
This question has been floating around in my head for the last 24 hours and I can honestly say that I do not have a conclusive answer. However, there are a few things that I am positive about:
- My feminist identity is still ambiguous (to myself, at least). Up until two years ago, the idea of feminism, to me, was still a foreign concept. I suppose I can blame this on the highly sexist public education system that clogged my K-12 noggin, but the point is I, along with many other members, are still new to this fight for equality. While this is no excuse for being an exclusive feminist, it’s something that I think a lot of us need to come to terms with.
- I am a feminist. And just like the diverse individuals who also claim this title, our movement is constantly shifting its attention, adding to its agenda, and simply put, growing as a result. So, it’s okay if you’re not always on top of every single issue out there. Stay informed. Be an activist for what pushes your buttons the most. And, in the likely situation that someone brings up an issue that you weren’t aware of- listen and learn.
- If I learned anything from the conference it’s this: the feminist movement is not for the individual, but for the greater good of our human community. Being a feminist, fighting for the basic ideals of equality that this movement entails, is something to be proud of.
For those of you struggling with this idea of “pocket-sized feminism” (like myself) I implore you: do not get discouraged. Ask questions, have discussions, and do not let the fear of being judged for saying the wrong thing, or saying anything, keep you from exploring your feminist identity. We all still have a lot to learn, and that is just fine.