(This is absolutely not a how-to guide.)
I’ve been getting progressively angrier and feminist-er over the past year. This is going to be another one of those posts where I talk about my own experiences, because I’m not nearly as educated and eloquent as so many other wonderful feminist writers. “Write what you know,” they say. I’m really only an expert in what I’ve experienced (and that in its self is debatable).
I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m not going to go into that much, because it’s a massive derail, but I will say that feminism was actively discouraged and women were told to be subservient to men at all times. There. So, that’s where I started off. Luckily, I also was raised during the 1990s and the height of Girl Power—which is another topic all of its own—so my malleable young mind was caught between Spice Girls Feminism and “do whatever the Elders tell you, because God created man in his image… and woman as a kind of afterthought so Man would have something besides ‘let there be dogs’ to put his dick in.” (That final sentence is more of an approximation of my childhood inner-turmoil.)
I fluctuated between two mindsets. Was I feeling particularly rebellious? Then fuck a wife deferring to her Husband in all matters. Was I feeling more fearful of the End that is Nigh and the coming Apocalypse? Well, “feminism” is just another evil Worldly idea planted by Satan to disrupt the natural order of things that Jehovah has lovingly set in place.
To this day, I am really very good at believing two completely contradictory things at the same time. I don’t think that’s a healthy talent, though?
When I was 15, my closest (read: only) friend at the time explained to me that “Feminism is fucking stupid. It’s just a bunch of angry bulldykes.” I was kind of in love with her, so I totally agreed. We decided we believed in “equality” but that feminism was for crazy radicals who wanted to cut off everyone’s balls. I mostly equated feminism with the SCUM Manifesto and women who painted flowers with their menstrual blood.
This held true until I got older. I’ve always been a voracious reader, even though I primarily focused this habit on David Bowie minutiae and “funny internet forums”. Somehow, I kept stumbling upon feminist blogs and essays online, until the day when I found I Blame the Patriarchy. It’s radical, it’s really radical and I don’t agree with all of Twisty Faster’s views, but it opened my eyes to the patriarchy in a way nothing else had done before.
That was a depressing day. I realized that literally every single aspect of pop culture was misogynist on some level, and wow David Bowie was a real dick, and everyone thought women are lesser-than and needed saving (even myself), and so that’s why girls were so mean to one another, and this has been going on LITERALLY FOREVER??! and that’s why those feminists been so mad this whole time! Suddenly, I was really mad too.
I’ve mostly stayed mad, but being a feminist isn’t easy. Trying to reconcile being a feminist with living in the same world everyone else does isn’t easy. Trying to talk to other feminists isn’t always easy, either. Sometimes I feel like half of them think I’m a crazy radical ball-buster, and the other half think I’m a push-over servant of the Patriarchy. I’ll get annoyed at something so supposedly minor that it doesn’t even register to my male friends, and then the fact that no one else can tell how crap it is just makes me more irritated. I still vie for male approval, despite my own disgust at this internalized misogyny. I get really really cross when watching the new Doctor Who, or when someone tells me that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an excellent example of a strong female lead, or when I face street harassment AKA 'Every Time I Step Outside'. Some of these are normal responses to an insane world, and others are… probably less so.
Being a feminist is confusing, infuriating, and totally worth it. How else are we ever going to end this shit? If I ever reproduce, I don’t want any of my offspring to have to grow up in such a weird, confusing, awful system where you can’t tell up from down half the time because 90%(?) of the world is totally brainwashed by some crazybad shit that’s been going down for thousands of years.
But even though it’s hard for me to figure out what to do, or where to start, I’m optimistic about it. We live in an age where information can be freely and easily distributed, and where truths about the universe that have been completely unknown for hundreds of thousands of years are being discovered at an increasingly rapid pace. If we can figure out exactly how humans are inter-related to the rest of the species on Earth using genetic sequencing by 2040 (or thereabouts?), we can sure as hell educate the world about gender relations.