I Never Knew I Was A Feminist
I tweeted once that I'm not a feminist, that I didn't identify with the word and that I hadn't done enough to warrant giving myself the title and people came out in droves to 'cancel' me. All I thought was "you're all mad." My tweet was received with a variation of sarcastic 'lol's, condescending 'stop sis's and a load of 'wow's. There were a handful of adults that tried to have a mature discussion about it, but the majority of people just wanted to flex their superiority muscles and ridicule me; it was the perfect opportunity to 'draggggg herrrrr'. I've honestly thought about it a lot since that day and the topic of feminism is hot right now so it's always popping up as a discussion point, that's how I realised that of course I'm a feminist, I just didn't know.
There are three main reasons I have never ascribed myself to feminism; firstly, I had never really thought about whether I was a feminist until very recently. Secondly, to me, a feminist was an activist and it was an effort I had never consciously contributed to and thirdly, with the latest mainstream movement I could not identify nor did I want to be associated with the negative connotations. But I have accepted that my perspective was limited and true feminism isn't represented in the things I so often witness. If you are a twitter user you will probably see a gender war everyday on your timeline. Men and women are constantly at each other's throats, 'men are trash' seems to be a mantra amongst what people refer to as 'twitter feminists' and somehow everything manages to come back to the topic of gender. It's so out of hand and I really don't have the time for it. Amongst all the chaos I figured the best thing for me to do was just stay clear, but the more I tried to avoid being involved the more it all plagued my mind. It was only after spending time sharing healthy and constructive dialogue with the wonderful hosts of #TLRTalks (on twitter @TheLadiesRoom) that I began to change my perspective.
Growing up I had both parents around in a solid marriage, a happy home, a decent education, I have been blessed with freakishly good looks, charm for days, wit, intelligence... but I digress haha! I had a good life! I have a blessed life! I am a very lucky girl and I thank God that I have never faced any real hardship. I have been taught that I can be anything I want, do anything I please and that all people are as capable and worthy as me, I just need to work hard, do right by others, help people when I can and mind my business. Because of all of these things I feel like I'm a decent person by default. I believe in equality by default. I want to do the right thing (most of the time) by default and I despise injustice by default. Feminism was never a title I considered, because I never knew I needed to consider it. No one had ever asked 'do you believe in equal rights?' 'how do you feel about women being exploited?' 'should men be paid more because they have a penis?'. Why would anyone ever need need me to answer those questions? Of course you know I think it's utter bullshit, surely I shouldn't have to tell you... right? So I genuinely want to ask the question, if everything I do looks likes feminism, everything I stand for resembles feminism and everything I say sounds like feminism, why does it matter if I call myself a feminist? Some people may meet this with 'well, why the hell not?' and I'll try to explain. Like anything in this life, the right thing is no good if used in the wrong way. The premise and basis of feminism is positive, it is fair, it is noble and only an idiot will disagree, but the implementation of it is by and large, in my opinion, currently flawed. The feminism that is loud, aggressive, offensive and in your face is the feminism that you are most likely to see and it is not the feminism I wish to be a part of. The feminism that hates men, attacks people online, is completely irrational and won't give you the time of day if you have differing views is not the feminism I wish to be a part of. My feminism doesn't look like this and because that is the feminism I am so heavily exposed to, my feminism was displaced. I don't see myself in these people, I don't recognise this feminism as the good, fair and noble thing I thought it was, so I settled with the idea that I just wasn't actually a feminist.
I thought picket lines and picket signs was an integral part of feminism; I thought feminists were activists. I mean, you're not a philanthropist just because you believe that third world countries should have clean water, nor are you a teacher because you believe in education - this is how I saw it. Feminists were well read, had rich experiences, dedicated time and labour! Feminists were on the front line! Yes, I believe in feminism, but have I made any conscious or direct efforts to contribute specifically to the progression of equal rights between men and women? Nope. And so it wasn't a title I felt particularly comfortable claiming. I understood what it is that feminism tries to achieve and of that I was very supportive, but I didn't think my support of 'true' feminists made me one, but according to the Oxford dictionary it does (google is your friend guys).
I'm a teacher and my job means the world to me, it makes me so happy and I feel so fulfilled after a day with those amazing kids. Everyday I try my best to instil virtue and integrity into my students and in doing so, without even realising it, I teach them love and compassion, respect and tolerance fairness and justice.
I have never looked at any of my sister's or female friends and thought they couldn't be what they wanted to be. I would only ever encourage them to live in nothing but their truth and strive for whatever it is they wanted without ever feeling any limitations due to their gender. I will have children one day and my partner and I will make sure they know they are worthy regardless of their gender, ethnicity, orientation or creed. Everyday I do feminist work and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, because that is the just the way it should be.
I think most people made the assumption that I was a feminist and it's a fair assessment because by definition (a definition I have not always been entirely sure of) I am, but is it the way I refer to myself? No. Will I stick it in my social media bios or tell everyone I meet? Definitely not. My feminism isn't aggressive but it's firm. I don't want my feminism to be condescending I want it to be enlightening. I won't shout about it because my feminism goes without saying and it may not look like yours, but that's okay. You can call me a feminist, I'll take that.