This isn’t my first rodeo discussing feminism. Many of my friends on Facebook assume feminism isn’t just about cisgender women, but it’s not. If you’re one of those people, I challenge you. Defend your position. Comment below and fight back. Unless you’re too scared? I’m listening.
Every day I wake up, I face a new struggle with how I identify as an activist. There are so many labels, and I’m scared to carry their weight. What if I’m not doing enough good, or what if I’m mislabeling myself and offending other activists?
As I stare at my face in the mirror, I contemplate my options: humanitarian, social justice warrior, equal rights supporter, feminist.
What makes a feminist?
I’ll tell you what feminist means to me: a person who shows a passion for social justice, identity equality, equal rights for all identities, equal pay for everyone (poc, lgbtq+, ex-prisoners), more diversity in political figures, accessible healthcare as a birth right, solidarity, friendship, and love. Not everyone agrees with that definition. And that’s okay. But cash me in the comments, how bout dah? Show me your definition.
I remember the first time I realized I had to make a choice, to be active or to be silent. I was a junior in high school, having to form arguments pro- or con- for capital punishment, abortion, and immigration. In high school I didn’t care about anything that didn’t effect me. I was middle class, cisgender, Caucasian, atheist, and bi-sexual (playing hetero). I went into the argument and failed. Because I couldn’t see past myself, I failed. I learned that silence IS a decision, and that even if these causes have no effect on my life, my decision can effect whether someone else lives or dies.
I remember the first time I realized I was a feminist. I walked into a Communications class, excited to learn more about ethnography and cultures different than my own. I exoticized these differences, and romanticized the lives of people I had never met. Yeah, I cared about their lived experiences, but I wanted to speak for these people, rather than give them a platform to speak for themselves. Needless to say, Dr. Hobson redirected that quickly. The first day of class felt a little bit like the Matrix, with my professor in the role of Morpheus, giving us a choice: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill (ignorance, in my case, white feminism) – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill ( intersectional feminism) – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
I went down the rabbit-hole, I took the red pill, I chose feminism. Everyday I wake up, and I choose feminism.
It’s a continuous process. Each day I’m learning and each day I grow in my intersectionality and self-reflectivity. Sometimes I mess up. But from each failure, I learn, and become a stronger feminist.
I challenge you, feminist or not, to do the following: stop assuming people are cisgender, regardless of your gender if you introduce your name introduce your pronouns (NYC schools do it, get with the program), stop assuming everyone is hetero (sexuality is a spectrum), stop making people feel uncomfortable for their differences. Make yourself uncomfortable. Learn. Make the world a better place. Be like Emma Watson. Check out some Ecofeminism while you’re at it.
What do you choose? Feminism or Silence? Comment below.
Reference: Catch me outside, how about that?
Featured image credit: BreakingLinea