Though it’s officially defined as a belief in gender equality, the word “feminist” seems to mean different things to different people…
Who doesn’t believe in equality? Assh*les, that’s who. But tell that to your brother when he wants you to stop pointing out every misogynistic moment in Two a Half Men, or your Mom when she wonders why you’re so angry or Scott Baio, who thinks feminists are all lesbian shitasses.
Maybe you get judged for being a feminist, maybe you don’t bring it up with your family, or maybe you’re way past that and you’re introducing feminism to your own children. Or maybe you don’t even identify as a feminist at all.
Autostraddle was founded way back in March 2009 in part to push our radical lesbian feminist agenda, obviously.
But for those of us who do, especially those of us also campaigning actively against racism and homophobia in our own lives, we often wonder: What is the purpose of all this shouting and “consciousness-raising”? How do we turn our anger into activism? How do we make it work?
Feminism has undergone profound change since first-wave feminism started burning up the 19th century in Europe and the US. Back then, when men owned their wives and women were deemed unfit for education, there was a ton of shit that needed to change and FAST. And in that regard, feminists have made such swift strides in some areas that many believe the work is done — and it’s not. Furthermore, many women of color, queer and/or working class women still feel feminism is still a rich white woman’s movement that doesn’t address their concerns.
Autostraddle was founded way back in March 2009 in part to push our radical lesbian feminist agenda, obvs. Where other lesbian media often develops in tandem with gay male media & gay male issues, we wanted AS to develop from a different angle — a LADY angle — in tandem with feminist media & feminist issues. And so it’s time we officially start talking about that with you.
This “job”/volunteer opportunity tends to make you hyper aware of the daily frustrations of fighting for equality, which means we have a LOT of feelings to vent.
So we’re splitting this roundtable into three posts with a different question each time. Oh! Like the three waves how clever! If you’re new here, check out some of our previous Autostraddle Roundtables, like:
What Does a Lesbian Look Like
What We Talk About When We Talk About Healthcare
When Did You Know You Were Gay?
Is There a Lesbian Generation Gap?
So … Prop 8 Was Upheld. What Do We Do Now?
I’d Rather Laugh With the Sinners than Cry With the Saints
Adam Lambert – First Gay American Idol?
We also brought in a guest blogger to share his thoughts…. a boy! He’s queer, his name is JC Gonzalez, and he blogs at Bright Pink Tears. And hey, if you read this and think there’s a valuable perspective missing, hit up sarah [at autostraddle dot com] and/or laneia [at autostraddle dot com] about participating in Round 2 as a guest.
This Roundtable is SUPER LONG ’cause there’s a ton of people working here now, and we don’t even include everyone.
Today, we’re going to start with the basics:
Are you a feminist? If so, when did you start identifying as one, and what was it like when you first got a grasp on what feminism really means? If you ever did NOT identify as a feminist, why not?
TAYLOR, TECH EDITOR: From my early teens on, I felt this unnamed oppression — that I had something very dangerous to conceal. And subconsciously, I felt that letting on that I was a feminist would’ve let the cat out of the bag.
Thinking back (just now actually!), I realize that I had a lot of weird proto-feminist shame as a teen. And that’s really sad and also really f*cking stupid. I was definitely stifled by this ridiculous cartoonish stereotype (that I honestly must have conjured out of thin air) where a feminist was impossibly militant, fiercely man-hating and probably a big scary dyke. I don’t think I’ve ever verbalized how I felt during those years, or really realized it at all. I certainly identified as a feminist to myself, but it was a dirty word. To others, mostly guys, I played down my identification with the word, which in retrospect is really kind of tragic. I mean, if anyone properly explained that feminism was about equality and not superiority or anything absurd like that, then I think my peers (in suburban Texas) would have been really pretty receptive. Everyone was actually surprisingly open-minded, but we were all held back by this ambiguous, dangerous specter of feminism that sure as hell didn’t have a face in our community. Like, where exactly were these horrible man-hating lesbians? They didn’t frequent our mall, I’ll tell you that much. They were the stuff of legend, I guess.
Throughout those years, music was the way I both expressed and was shamed by feminism. I’ve always listened to a lot of female musicians, you know, women being half the population and all. Lady rockers became my biggest role models, and I found my way into some Riot Grrl stuff, thank god. Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre and PJ Harvey were instantly my feminist confidantes. But sadly, that’s where the shame comes in. Any power the music infused me with was tainted by the shame of identifying with this dangerous, raw feminist energy. It got kind of complicated. I’m not sure how my developing queer little brain handled that.
“I began to hear some very damaging comments about why I liked ‘angry chick music.’ I can’t even hear that phrase any more. I actually may have to maim someone, it’s so infuriating (maybe that’s why those chicks were so f*cking angry, huh?)”
Even though only roughly half of the music I listened to was by women, that was enough to rouse suspicion. I began to hear some very damaging comments in middle school and early high school, deceptively simple questions about why I liked “angry chick music.” I can’t even hear that phrase any more. I actually may have to maim someone, it’s so infuriating (maybe that’s why those chicks were so f*cking angry, huh?) I’m just not sure why high school boys felt so threatened by women in bands and women playing instruments. Even my dad condescendingly inquired about it, accusing me of “hating men” since I listened to “so much girl music”. I got pretty sick of it in late high school, when I finally starting steeling myself against the barrage of sexist/homophobic absurdity. The turning point was probably when my best friend and I started riding around in his shitty convertible through the suburbs blasting Sleater-Kinney’s “Dig Me Out” and singing along at the top of our lungs. It was very freeing. Maybe that kind of primal energy was what everyone was so afraid of?
I think music was so important because as a teen, you really wear your heart on your sleeve with what you listen to. And I didn’t want that heart to look gay or like a feminist or anything suspect at all. It’s pretty powerful stuff during those years, when the voice coming through the speakers might be the only one you can relate to or confide in. And it can make you extremely vulnerable. I remember one really close, fairly enlightened friend telling me that he “didn’t feel like listening to girl music” in his car one day when we were trying to figure out what CD to play. I was betrayed. He and I had listened to that kind of music before. And I was like “I didn’t know gender was a genre?” But of course, tragically, I didn’t say that — I didn’t say anything. I just boiled over silently with a toxic mixture of rage and shame.
In late high school, I finally came into my own and learned to stand up for small outrages like this, but I think at the time, I conflated feminism with my sexuality. I wasn’t comfortable or even aware of my sexuality until I was about 18. But I think from my early teens on, I felt this unnamed oppression — that I had something very dangerous to conceal. And subconsciously, I felt that letting on that I was a feminist would’ve let the cat out of the bag. That somehow my listening to female musicians belied my sexuality in an obvious way. Even though those two things weren’t at all related for me.
GLENNISHA, MUSIC WRITER: It was nothing new to me to want equality.
I definitely identify as a feminist. I think I’ve always have had sentiments of a feminist, but I didn’t actually identify as one until I was about 20 years old. When I first got a grasp on what feminism really meant, it wasn’t a big deal to me because I always had those views. It was nothing new to me to want equality. It was also nothing new to me to stand up for what I believe in. I come from a family of very strong women. Growing up my mother always taught me to stand up for myself and more importantly to know and understand my value.
ALEX, DESIGN DIRECTOR: My “female voice” class planted a pretty little seed in my 17-year old head, and that made all the difference.
There was this amazing teacher in my high school who established and taught an English elective called “Female Voice.” All the cool girls (like me) and even a few boys took the class, and it was definitely there that I learned to view the world through a “feminist lens,” (as our teacher put it.) We read The Yellow Wallpaper and The Handmaid’s Tale (among others) and deconstructed racial and social stereotypes in movies like Pretty Woman. At the time, we begged our teacher to spare ruining one of our favorite movies of all time — “why can’t we just enjoy it for what it is! Wahhh!” Silly us.
That’s funny and ironic now because I work for Autostraddle, where we socially deconstruct everything. And I’m totally fine with that.
I think a little bit of female history (and even some gay history) taught in high school classrooms would do everyone a favor. Critical thinking skills, people! WE NEEDZ TEHM. My “female voice” class planted a pretty little seed in my 17-year-old head, and that made all the difference.
RACHEL, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: I don’t know when I started using the word “feminist,” but I’m going to keep using it until all this shit stops happening.
I was, believe it or not, kind of a tomboy when I was young — I played on a boys’ baseball team, rocked Cleveland Indian t-shirts exclusively throughout the fifth grade, and I was always ready to rumble on the playground if you had a bad attitude. I was into “girl power.” And when it became clear that this was all weird and borderline unacceptable behavior — that the boys on my team thought I was weird for caring about sports, that my classmates thought I was a smartass for knowing the answers, that I was considered unladylike before I was old enough to wear a bra — it made me angry, and I’m still angry today. I remember in my Advanced Placement physics class in high school listening to the guy behind me joke about how right Larry Summers was, that girls really are just worse at math and science. I turned around in my seat and told him that that seemed weird, considering I had a better grade than him.
“I didn’t get an idea that real feminism could be about a lot more than girl power until college, when I took some classes and found some readings that made me realize equality is about more than splitting the check at dinner.”
I don’t know when I started using the word “feminist,” but I’m going to keep using it until all this shit stops happening. I didn’t get an idea that real feminism could be about a lot more than girl power until college, when I took some classes and found some readings that made me realize equality is about more than splitting the check at dinner. When I was 19 or 20, suddenly it was like “Oh hey, there are three times more animal shelters than battered women’s shelters in the US, forced sterilization of women of color is still happening every day, and the rampant misogyny endemic to our culture is hurting EVERYONE, punishing queer people for nonconformist gender presentations and making us stigmatize women of color as unfeminine and hypersexual….” the list goes on. It’s one of those things where, once you start to really think about it, you can never stop, you know?
The amazing writers, speakers, and thinkers who have inspired me since then is practically neverending. I love love love Anne Lamott’s essays and all of Traveling Mercies; Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy changed the way I think about everything, as does everything of James Baldwin’s. Cherrie Moraga’s work is a must-read especially for queer women, and when I read the anthology Jane Sexes It Up at like 16, I remember feeling like my life had changed completely, like I would never think about sexuality in the same way again.
SARAH, ASSOCIATE EDITOR: I was secretly terrified of being gay or being different, so I never delved beneath the surface. But then I got to college.
I didn’t give feminism much thought until college. If asked directly, I probably would have identified as a feminist before then, but I didn’t really understand the implications. In high school, I actually didn’t think about much at all. I grew up in a very privileged town, and I avoided thinking deeply about my identity in any respect. I was secretly terrified of being gay or being different, so I never delved beneath the surface.
But then I got to college: I officially came out, I met some progressive feminists, and I started taking sociology classes. My friends and my classes forced me to learn about feminism, gender studies and queer theory. On top of that, being gay and having a computer allowed me to connect with a bunch of awesome women I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, and their influence has especially shaped my feminist views. I started thinking about things I had never thought before. Did you know studies show that married heterosexual women do the same amount of housework whether they have a job or not? And “the same amount” is usually a pretty large amount. Reading things like that made me realize how much work was left to be done.
“…because even though living in ignorance can be blissful,
it’s actually a lot more fun to know who you are and know you’re a part of something important.”
So basically, I went from being oblivious to being a big feminist in just a few months. It’s such a cliche, but I became a completely different person in my first year at college. I’m SO thankful for that now, because even though living in ignorance can be blissful, it’s actually a lot more fun to know who you are and know you’re a part of something important.
Because all of this stuff happened at the same time for me, my gay identity and my feminist identity are intertwined. I tend to see all equality movements as one big effort. And the more involved I get, the more I think that’s true.
CRYSTAL, MUSIC EDITOR: The moment I began identifying as a feminist was when my irritation and embarrassment over my mother’s protests turned into respect.
My mother began teaching me about feminism at a really young age. The biggest lesson I can recall happened on my fourth birthday: she dragged me down to the local soccer club and refused to leave until they agreed to let me play for the boy’s under-5 soccer team. All the folks in our tiny redneck town got really upset about it, because it was a “boys’ sport.” I wasn’t too stoked either because of boy germs, etc.
I was too young to fully understand what she was trying to achieve. It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I started to make my own observations about inequality — largely demonstrated by some sexist employers — and then suddenly every fight I recalled my mother having during my childhood started making sense. So I guess that’s the moment I began identifying as a feminist: when my irritation and embarrassment over my mother’s protests turned into respect.
Unlike a few feminists I know, I’m no expert on the movement or theory. That’s mostly by choice, as feminism as a topic really stresses me out for a few reasons. I’ll protest and challenge authorities and even quit jobs in the name of equality, but ask me to discuss feminism on a political or philosophical level, and I’ll bee-line for the exit.
JC GONZALEZ, GUEST ROUNDTABLER, BLOGGER/ARTIST/HOMOSEXUAL MAN BEHIND “BRIGHT PINK TEARS”: I realized that the only girls who received the least amount of hazing were ones who served male fantasizes and sexual expectations. I was quiet the entire drive home until I blurted out, “Mom, I think I’m a feminist.”
I’ve come a long way in the few years I’ve been defining myself as a feminist and as a queer boy. Terminology means nothing, though; I’ve always been both of those labels since childhood.
I grew up in the borderland of El Paso, Texas, in a dominantly Hispanic/Latino culture — a culture where feminist ideology, philosophy, literature, and entertainment is not only scarce but mocked. Luckily, I had my older sister. She was born 10 years ahead of me, so I naturally idolized her. She took me under her wing and made me listen to female artists since the day I was born. My training varied from Björk to Naked Aggression, from her making me read The Vagina Monologues in middle school to introducing me to Tank Girl comics instead of your standard male superheroes.
I like to think of it as training to survive and battle the oncoming years, when I would realize the existentialist complexities and social struggles of sex and gender. Soon I would enter high school, where I befriended a popular cheerleader who I respected greatly. She was sexually liberated, intellectually self-assured, confident, and unafraid to show assertive attitude. Naturally, with such characteristics she was also one of the most hated and gossiped-about girls in school. Another group of friends I had were girls who were not into physical superficiality, and focused on academics instead of make-up. These girls were also the subject of harsh criticism and hate.
One day, when being driven home from school by my mother, as I was not old enough to own a license, all this became apparent to me. I realized that the only girls who received the least amount of hazing were ones who served male fantasizes and sexual expectations. I was quiet the entire drive home until I blurted out, “Mom, I think I’m a feminist.”
That was my coming out moment. I ranted to her about all the gender-related injustices inflicted upon my posse of girlfriends and how macho boys made me sick to my stomach.
My mother went on to explain that it was merely the childish and foolish world of high school, a place where ignorance existed. I figured beyond high school these issues would drop dead, and was soon met with the reality.
By this time I could fend for myself when searching for feministic media. I discovered Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl revolution. In my sheltered and naive situation, the music was a breath of fresh air. Kathleen Hanna explicitly shrieked her way through the wrongs inflicted upon women in the world, and I was brought to tears when overwhelmed with emotion the very first time I listened to them. I was a lone star in my little world when it came to such blatant feminism, and listening to a like-minded band was validating and inspiring.
All of these young, budding experiences were a launch-pad to explore women’s studies beyond the world of entertainment. Buying essay collections like Sisterhood is Powerful and taking feminist art history courses, studying gender theory, and so on. I was a baby feminist as a teen, and now entering my twenties, I’ve come a long way.
EMILY CHOO, INTERN With all the sexist jokes flying around, I kind of worked up in my mind that I didn’t like that and wished that we could all get along and live in blissful equality.
I’m not sure I ever knew what a feminist was, like the exact definition. I always knew that I wanted equality for women, but I never realized that that meant I was a feminist until I was about 16 and I figured out that feminists exist. It was kind of like when I discovered bisexuality, except less of a “eureka!” moment. I sort of grew into the feminist thing.
In high school I was in a sports program that was like 80-85% testosterone, and so with all the sexist jokes flying around, I kind of worked up in my mind that I didn’t like that and wished that we could all get along and live in blissful equality. JK, I wished that the dude in my class would stop saying that women should be in the kitchen. More importantly, I wished that girls would stop going out with him because a) they were only encouraging his behaviour, and b) I wanted to go out with them.
I think I always had strong female characters in my life, or rather, a gaping hole where my mother should have been. Unconsciously I probably tried to identify with her, and the fact that I thought about her a lot only made her female “presence” stronger. Also, I always looked to my aunt as a strong woman who had a really put-together life and who introduced me to The Spice Girls, who coincidentally were all about Girl Power.
RIESE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Feminism was about equal rights, which we already had (or so I thought). Girl Power was more like it, with its sexy Ginger Spices and Bridget Jonses and Carrie Bradshaws.
I grew up post-feminist. Feminism was what my Mom did before my birth in 1981 and why a woman allegedly needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle and why a little girl like me (though I often passed as male) could be whatever she wanted to be when she grew up. In Ann Arbor’s tiny liberal socioeconomically homogeneous bubble — and the even tighter seal of my gifted/alternative/arts schools — I generally befriended a racially diverse mix of precociously fierce girls and wiry emo bisexual boys with similarly idealistic upbringings.
The seal cracked sometimes, like when visiting strictly gendered family out-of-town, or on my soccer team with pretty public school girls who already shaved their legs and hadn’t read Our Bodies Ourselves. Over time, those cracks would destroy me/unearth necessary truths, but I didn’t know that yet. All I knew was I’d feel something gross/different clawing at me: something wretched & sad & needy for their Female-to-Female Approval.
This insecurity/depression soured me towards the Feminism that was preventing me, I felt, from knowing things I needed to know to be a Girl in the Real World of Bitches and Boyfriends. I didn’t want to be so “different” — and I certainly didn’t want anyone to think I was a lesbian. My Mom’s brand of in-your-face feminism seemed less and less like a liability I could afford. And although I was teased for being ugly & flat-chested and my friends & I cycled through every teenage girl tragedy addressed in Reviving Ophelia — eating disorders, self-mutilation, sexual or physical abuse, mental illness, et al — I didn’t see that feminism offered theories about & solutions for those issues, only that it was a political agenda sported by women who didn’t wear bras. And I really wanted to wear a bra! (I’m over that now.)
“Girl Power” was more like it, with its sexy empowered Ginger Spices and Bridget Joneses and Carrie Bradshaws.
I can’t sort out my memories besides that I clearly was feeling one way and acting another — not wanting to be seen as a lesbian, coupled with a ton of grief & depression & just a lot of issues — and to be honest, I honestly think a feminist lens could’ve really benefited me at the time.
I kinda enthusiastically embraced the capitalist patriarchal co-opted version of smart, progressive pro-sex feminism embodied by watered-down Girls (Gone Wild) Power. At 20, I was going to school, waitressing, and living in a condo with a frat boy boyfriend and a puppy, cooking him dinner every night. I was scared of women and had alienated most of my female friends. I’d go see “boy movies,” watch his shows & listen to his music, but my boyfriend dated me for ten months without reading a single word I’d written, let alone a word by Adrienne Rich. I internalized that double standard.
I started openly owning the feminist title maybe mid-college, after that relationship.
‘Cause throughout all of that; I’d been reading a lot! That’s the key! In addition to everything I learned in Sociology and other women-oriented classes, I read Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem and the Confidence Gap in early high school and decided my life goal was to make middle school easier for girls, as I’d been so colossally depressed for most of it. There was Bitch Magazine and Bust. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America, Revised Edition changed my life. Also The Body Project. Over time I gradually stopped favoring male authors over female and now my favorite writers are all women: Lorrie Moore, Mary Gaitskill, Joan Didion, Pam Houston, Eileen Myles, A.M Homes, Megan Daum.
I read, and I worked with girls, tutoring, doing a photojournalism project at a pilot all-girls middle school, mentoring at a treatment center with sexually abused pre-adolescents, teaching at a juvenile detention center… at some point I saw the light, or maybe just stepped into the light.
“Don’t think gender discrimination in the workplace still exists?
Try waiting tables.”
I learned feminism’s importance real quick out there in “the real world.” Don’t think day-to-day gender discrimination in the workplace still exists? Try waiting tables! Once my naive, 18-year-old thrill of being objectified constantly wore off, I got angry about the daily sexual harassment and inexplicable disparity of weekly income — we tallied one week and found that regardless of race & sexuality, men made on average $150 more per week in tips than women working the same shifts. But that was nothing compared to the actual job market where our male friends seemed to seamlessly prosper while all my female friends struggled to get an unpaid internship or stay out of debt.
Now I’m completely insane, I start fights with strangers. I’ve basically been this way all along, I just didn’t use it before.
KATRINA, EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Being a woman and being a feminist finally made sense, and there was no need to hide it anymore.
The babyhood of my feminism began in high school — not really as a philosophy or identity, but just as a defense against a certain group of boys in all my classes who insisted that it was hilarious to make rude anti-woman comments all throughout every class, whether it be about the suffragettes, Joan of Arc, or Queen Elizabeth. Yeah, I know, it’s ridiculous. Seriously guys (girls? grrrls?), no one has had shit on Queen Elizabeth since like the 1700s, and besides, anyone who has done so has gotten their theoretical ass kicked by Helen Mirren anyway.
Not only did these boys feel the need to deprecate historical ladies, but they also sneered at any girl half willing to call them out and snickered at the mere mention of feminism. And so even though what these guys were saying was incredibly offensive, it seemed almost impossible to talk back to them (an entirely too familiar power dynamic – wussup homosocial behavior), and the rest of the class (not just the girls) was left silent. Until, of course, one day when I was feeling particularly indignant, and I suddenly found myself going all Hillary Clinton on their asses in a long tirade which concluded when I – to my own surprise – identified myself as a feminist and realized that as long as we are people in this world, we are affected by sexism, and as long as sexism exists, we should all be feminists.
“I – to my own surprise – identified myself as a feminist and realized that as long as we are people in this world, we are affected by sexism, and as long as sexism exists, we should all be feminists.
After a long, strange, queer freshman year of college, I had finally settled into my sexuality, only to be met with the trouble of gender. A brief period of genderqueer questioning was ended when my mother insisted that as long as I lived in her house, “I had to look like a girl.” I realized then that it was ridiculous for me to try to “look” like a woman, because, it turned out, I already felt like one. I’m a woman, yes, though unconventionally so, but I figured that it’s better that way. Why try to conventionalize my own identity or any identity at all? Being a woman and being a feminist finally made sense, and there was no need to hide it anymore.
Whenever someone is rude to me IRL or on the Internets, my girlfriend always tells me, “Haters make you famous.” But now it’s become clear that those who sip on the haterade and eat the hatertots have turned out another unexpected result: haters make me a feminist.
LANEIA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I grew up irritated, confused, unknowingly gay, oppressed, sexualized, objectified AND THEN I MARRIED A MAN.
I was raised with a confusing message when it came to equality and gender roles. On one hand, I was told that no man was beneath or above me and to treat everyone with respect and kindness. At the same time, women in my family treated men completely differently than they treated each other. It was clear from pretty early on that men were good for yard work and making an impact in public (the idea of physical protection, being validated by a man’s presence, etc.), but that without a woman, most men couldn’t feed or dress themselves, pay bills, keep a house clean or raise a child.
“Like, I thought we were all equal here? At the same time, I was getting the explicit message that I needed a man to complete me. Also I just had a lot of issues.”
If I ever complained about how boys were allowed to behave like animals or assholes, the stock response was, “Laneia, they’re boys. That’s just how they are.” Well that’s enraging to hear at any age. And also really confusing! Like, I thought we were all equal here? At the same time, I was getting the explicit message that I needed a man to complete me. Also I just had a lot of issues.
So I grew up irritated, confused, unknowingly gay, oppressed, sexualized, objectified AND THEN I MARRIED A MAN. You’d think that would’ve pushed me over the edge — and it almost did — but actually it was the death of my maternal grandmother a few years later that made me reevaluate pretty much everything. In the months before she died, I learned so much about her life and how she had navigated it.
It occurred to me that she’d been modeling feminism for me my whole life. She’d worked hard for an education, owned her own business, presided over the family finances with unrivaled authority and commanded the same level of respect that she extended to others. My grandmother had quietly practiced her own brand of rural feminism — the kind no one really talked about.
Unfortunately, I had the self-awareness of an amoeba (still do?) and failed to notice or appreciate any of her examples until my mid-twenties, when I started talking to like-minded women and questioning everything. What a super interesting, dramatic, emotion-filled time in my life! I was like, “Hey, baggage! There’s so very much of you! GOOD GRIEF, LET’S GET STARTED.”
My frustration and anger and feelings of unrest had a name: feminism! There were books to read and things to talk about and people who understood. It was all very life-affirming and slightly overwhelming.
What people say about a term is not necessarily what it means or what it stands for.
I’m not sure there was a particular moment when I did begin to identify as a feminist. I think I always knew that people of all genders deserved to live equal lives, or at least that’s how I felt about it. I can’t say that I go around telling everyone that I am a feminist. I just take it for granted. It seems to be something so strong in me that I forget that others don’t have the same thoughts. That means that I’m more surprised when someone makes comments that aren’t feminist and less so when someone says they are a feminist.
Of course, at a certain point I learned that there was a way of describing people who believed in equality for women (and gender equality in general). Part of me wants to say that the concept of feminism arrived separately — in the form of more negative “bra-burning” stereotypes — than the idea of gender equality. Reconciling the two came from educating myself, discovering that what people say about a term is not necessarily what it means or what it stands for.
LILY, INTERN: I may be criticized for this, but I truly feel that the Spice Girls were a big part in the formation of my feminist identity.
I feel like I’ve always thought of myself as a feminist. I’m not quite sure when I started associating my identity with that specific word, but I also can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of that word’s existence. My parents made sure to raise me and my brother on the notion of equality between all genders, ethnicities, sexualities, and so forth. After church and catechism each Sunday (my dad is the most liberal devout Catholic in the world), my mother would be sure to remind me that a bunch of men wrote the bible, God is whatever gender/non-gender you make him/her/it out to be, and that Eve was blamed because of the patriarchal nature of the bible.
My mother is most definitely the person from whom I first learned about the ideas of feminism, and she has been my biggest role model in forming my identity. And I’ve always looked up to a number of strong women in my life, especially women musicians. I may be criticized for this, but I truly feel that the Spice Girls were a big part in the formation of my feminist identity. Ok, so they may have pranced around in minimal clothing while wearing gobs of make-up, but I don’t think either of those things are anti-feminist. They preached the ideal of “Girl Power” to their young, impressionable, and mostly female audience. Many of their songs had positive messages about the power of women, and even their movie didn’t focus on finding boys or some silly love story but rather on how hard each of the women worked to be successful.
To me, the word just means the belief in the equality of men and women, and why would anyone want to deny someone her equality? As I’ve grown older and begun to take classes on the ideas of feminism, I’ve come to question my knowledge of what feminism really is. I still consider myself a feminist, but I’m learning more and more each day about what that word can really mean.
TINKERBELL: A lady-body and a male-body are almost the same kind. So why is it such a big deal.
Hello Autostraddle. This is Tinkerbell. As a very attractive female dog who lies on my bed and thinks about my boyfriend Littlefoot all day, I am a feminist. Littlefoot makes me so mad! In my years of life, I have not seen many things. Still I see that feminism is cool and because of my beauty and fame, I want to be the coolest catch on the block. My mothers are all feminists, and so is our lord Lady Gaga. Also I see Bust, Bitch, Jezebel, Feministing and other good-looking women being feminists. Everybody is equal obviously. Compared to my body, which I got stuffed at Build-a-Bear last year for Democrat Day, a lady-body and a male-body are almost the same kind. So why is it such a big deal. Thank you love Tinkerbell.