June 02, 2015

My Feminism

I read something today. Something that infuriated me, that baffled me. Something about feminism.

And that something described feminism like this:
But as much as I love feminism, I need a break from Feminists: the knee-jerkers, the lean-Ins, the have-it-alls; the endless essayists, the shoulda sisterhood, the fine-tooth-comb reactionary readers; the twerkers, the twerk-less, the outraged oversharers, the rich white lady almost-problems — I’m giving all of you up for lent.
 For the next 40 days, this non-Christian is turning Feminists off. There’s a fine line between advocacy and mothering, and I think we’re at the point of nagging mother-in-laws. If I had a shot for every time a writer worked “have it all” or “lean in” into an essay to dispel the lunacy and sexist bullshit of the two or give me tips on how to achieve both, I’d be in a 12-step program. 
 I like my feminism with self-deprecation instead of self-righteousness — and, whew, have Feminists belly-flopped into the community pool on that one. Trickle down feminism has made some incredible strides within the past year which I must acknowledge — we have female Ghostbusters now, amirite?!

I could rant, and I could rail, but instead, I’m going to say the same thing that played through my mind as I made it through two pages of these thoughts:

This is not my feminism.

I don’t even recognize in this feminism a kindred spirit to my own. There’s so many feminist voices out there—so many voices that dwarf mine—but I still think it bears saying.

This is not my feminism.

My feminism is overarching. It reaches out. It seeks to build bridges. It wants, above all else, to first understand.

My feminism seeks to meet people where they are, not where I want them to be. It values people because they are people, with unique thoughts, values, and priorities. It values them for more than their political leverage on a campaign trail.

My feminism pushes back against ablest language and thought because it knows that we should never be defined by what we can or cannot do.

My feminism understands that it doesn’t matter what anatomical parts you do or don’t have, because my feminism realizes that the experience of being a woman transcends the physical. It realizes that being a woman involves the spiritual…the emotional…the mental.

My feminism wants to amplify the voices around me, never drown them out. It wants to encourage dialogue. It wants to reach for change.

My feminism is demanding. It is unladylike. Unapologetic. Unrepentant.

My feminism doesn’t back down from challenging ideas, even feminist ones. Especially feminist ones. It understands that it is through challenge that we grow, that we get better.

My feminism would never force a label on anyone; it believes that only the individual has the ability to understand and express their own identity. It understands that no one can force that on you. It respects you, and your right to choose, and it will continue to fight for your rights anyway.

My feminism is flawed, because it is comprised of the thoughts and ideas of a flawed human being. It has made missteps; it will make more. But it is trying. Always trying.

My feminism won’t forfeit a fight. It won’t throw in the towel. Even when the obstacles seem insurmountable, it will keep pushing, because it won’t accept defeat.

My feminism realizes what is at stake. My feminism sees it in the eyes of the young woman walking the path that I continue to clear, the one that whose clearing was begun by the generations that came before me.

My feminism is familiar with its troubled history. It realizes what it has bungled, and that there are some to whom it can never make amends. It realizes that, and it does not blame its victims and those that it has let down—and in many cases continues to let down—for eschewing it now.

My feminism knows that it is imperfect. It accepts its shortcomings, and it wants to grow, to improve.

This is my feminism. And what does it mean to me?

Everything.


It means everything.

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