I’m the aggressive feminist friend.
It’s a label I am still learning to wear proudly. I have to consciously remind myself to not follow up this declaration with an apology, explanation, or self-deprecating chuckle.
“Yes, I am a feminist. (Period.)”
You see, for the last few years, the beliefs I have that people of all genders should be treated with equal respect so that all people feel safe and valuable and the realizations I’ve made that the world is still a dangerous place for many women even though I am privileged enough to feel relatively safe, have grown strong and more evident in my self-identification. They pull at my heartstrings and beg me to speak out and speak up. To learn more. To ask questions. They force me into the uncomfortable sphere of questioning myself, my actions, and my own inherent personal prejudices.
I no longer have the desire to minimize these voices and stories. I feel powerful when my feminist warrior grumbles in my bones and makes me angry. She has a right to be mad.
This being said, I can still understand why many women, especially those with similar socio-economic backgrounds and experiences as myself, do not have that feminist voice whispering to them at all hours. I get it. You see, when you’ve been privileged enough in life (like I have) to be empowered as a woman, to feel safe and cared for and especially if you *gasp* actually enjoy the idea of a traditional role, it’s hard to feel that you need feminism. It’s easy to separate yourself and your experience from the hardships that still exist for other women in the world.
I believe Andrea Dworkin described this phenomenon perfectly when she said, “Many women, I think, resist feminism because it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society and all personal relationships.”
Some days I am so unbelievably distraught at the utter patriarchy that still exists in America and around the world. I find myself reading article after article on the political warfare happening again around women’s reproductive rights, which then links me to a suggested article on political and systematic violence against women in India, which leads me to a spiral effect of depression at what the world has done to women throughout history. Why would anyone want this knowledge? Why would you choose this burden?
On the bad days, I get it. I don’t want to be a feminist. Sometimes I’d give anything to not care that every time my male coworker makes a sexist joke he looks at me with a dirty smirk. On the good days, when I see the difference women around the world are making – when progress, as slow as it may come, happens – it’s worth it.
My feminist beliefs are rooted in the fact that for each woman around the world that feels safe and respected, there are thousands that don’t. Until this changes, we have not achieved gender equality. There are still fights to be fought. When I read about instances of violence against women (like this, this and this), being called “the feminist friend” is hardly something to complain about.
I will be the “annoying politically correct girl,” “crazy feminazi,” “obnoxious man hater,” “stupid liberal bitch,” any damn day if what I’m saying manages to change even one person’s perspective, makes them think a bit deeper about the struggles outside of their own.