Thursday, August 7, 2014

The F-word

Today I'm linking up with Marielle and Kiersten for The F-Word, a new monthly link-up they created about feminism. This month's prompt is:

So many women still think feminism is a dirty word. What made you realize you were a feminist?
Can I just be one massive cliché and admit I claimed my feminism in college? Because I did. After a Philosophy of Feminism course. 

I was definitely a Cool Girl in high school, validating myself by how awesome I wanted guys to think I was compared to other girls. Those bitches? They didn't get the joke. But I did.

I wasn't against feminism, but I didn't identify as a feminist, or I'd make statements like, "I'm not a feminist, but..." I was 17 and obviously I knew everything. 

At that age, I'd sympathize with feminism but then think feminists took it "too far." I thought they were shrews and hypocrites--basically all the opinions spouted by people who don't actually know anything about feminism. The same people who only know they should disagree with feminism because, well, feminazis. 

Then I took that college course and it made me rethink all the bullshit I believed and it just snowballed from there.

So that's who I am. 

The girl who was enlightened by a college philosophy class. 

What enlightened me? 

When I was a freshman at FIT, they made us go to a bunch of seminars in our first week of school and one of them was a discussion on date rape (I guess for living in the dorms?) where we were asked to give our thoughts on a social situation where a man and woman had a drunken encounter that the woman later identified as rape. 

The gathered students basically came to the consensus that it wasn't rape and people (i.e. the woman) need to take personal responsibility for their actions--i.e. getting drunk at a party. 

I nodded along as a freshman, but it was later in my philosophy class when I realized that in this entire discussion of "personal responsibility," the only person's actions that had really been discussed were the woman's. 

Where was the personal responsibility for the man in that situation? There was no discussion on that. It was about how the woman should have acted and how her actions led to the situation in question.

Date rape is a complicated issue with so many gray areas, but it's pretty telling that we're convincing ourselves it's a woman's problem. Something she needs to be cognizant of and prepare for. Something she needs to take responsibility for.

It's also pretty telling that to praise a person, you liken them to a man, and to insult a person, you liken them to a woman. Does that not immediately strike you as bullshit? 

It should. (In my humble, feminazi opinion.)

When it comes down to it, this is the primary reason I became a feminist: I hate that young girls are taught they are the problem. 

I hate that young girls are taught to live around men.

I hate that young girls are taught that, unless they're the perfect victim, they deserved to be raped. 

I hate that young girls learn from an early age that they're supposed to care about pink and glitter, and if they don't they're weird, and if they do, they're silly. 

I hate that my niece just wanted to be a goddamn dinosaur for Halloween but the store only had dinosaur costumes for boys.

There is so much latent sexism in this world that's constantly brushed aside as not being important or meaning anything. That's why I'm a feminist. 

It matters to me that only women are sincerely called sluts and whores. That "girly" interests are treated as far less important than the big bad things men are supposedly interested in. That despite whatever statistics you want to throw at me, men still lead the majority of major companies and, in the U.S., we haven't had a single female president or vice president.

Don't act like those things don't mean anything.

Also, I'll be totally up front. I'm a feminist because I like wearing my, "This is what a feminist looks like," t-shirt.


  1. I love this post, and I'm so so glad you decided to link up!! Make sure you link your post up over on mine or Marielle's page!

    I definitely agree that I really found feminism in college - i don't remember ever thinking one way or the other about it before then, despite knowing my mom had fought for women's rights herself. You make some really good points here though, and I can remember after a slew of date rapes on my campus last year, all anyone really said was "this is why girls need to travel in groups and be careful how much they drink and really you should all take self defense." Next to nothing was said about the MEN who actually DID the raping.

  2. Yes to all but especially this: "I hate that young girls are taught they are the problem." And aww, your niece. But at least they didn't have a skanky girl dinosaur costume. Did you ever see that boy/girl cookie monster costume, where the boy's was a cookie monster suit and the girl's was a tee shirt with a cookie monster tiara?

    I guess I lived in a bubble because despite my interests, I never really claimed my feminist identity until after college. I'll just go hide in a corner now. I never had college seminars like that - but maybe it was because I thought I was too cool for seminars and didn't go. Shrug.

  3. Love this post! I actually found my feminism pretty early on. In fact, I can't remember a time where I didn't consider myself a feminism. I come from a culture that historically and traditionally didn't think women needed education or careers. My own grandma stayed home with the kids because my grandfather thought that was where women belonged. My parents on the other hand always encouraged school and careers. Hell, they said I could be president if I wanted to be, so feminism was instilled in me from the moment I was born. :)

  4. Great post, very well written!! "I hate that young girls learn from an early age that they're supposed to care about pink and glitter, and if they don't they're weird, and if they do, they're silly." oh my gosh just this sentence alone is everything! Is it weird that I always thought that perhaps I wasn't feminist enough because I liked pink? When I was little I would never wear pink - I would be like 'no no I don't like pink' and now that I like pink and assert myself as a feminist I'm still a bit the same? Those little concepts are so undermining to girls! I mean like what the hell you want to like and that has nothing to do with what society invented as your gender!

  5. Your feminist posts make my heart happy. Really. Because you put all these thoughts into words far better than I ever could.

  6. Haha, omg, I thought that too about pink. I loved it as a little girl, completely rejected it when I was older (even though I kind of secretly liked it), and now I just embrace it. I secretly like glitter too but I restrain myself because it gets everywhere. Yes, I love everything Katie writes, she just nails it. This reminds me of this article I read that I have so many thoughts about, on being a bride with the traditional wedding bit when you're a feminist

  7. On that wedding article (we could probably have a whole discussion about this!), when I was studying in St Andrews I had a seminar on Jacques Derrida and most of me and my peers didn't understand anything about his theory of the 'gift' where he discusses what he wishes society could do to move on from gender and onto simply looking at relationships between people and how they affect each other without a matter of gender. It's very tough to explain actually, but the prof discussed how she saw the idea of a wedding as a moment between two people - as a 'gift' that defined them as human being to each other in that very moment of beauty and love. It's hard to paraphrase to be honest, but it was truly one of the most life changing class I've ever had!

  8. I can sum this post up in one word: PERFECTION!


  9. Can I just stand up and applaud you for this? Because I am. Through the computer. YES!

  10. That's so nice--thanks, Becca! I'm discovering I kind of love to talk about feminism.

  11. Thanks, Camila! It really bothers me that the same things women are encouraged to like, they are then belittled for liking. I love pink too. And, you know what, boys should be able to like pink too! But I know what you mean--my love for make-up wars with my feminism at times too, because it is kind of bullshit that only women are expected to wear make-up but at the same time, make-up is so much fun and I love wearing it.

  12. That article is interesting. I keep thinking about how strongly I feel about keeping my last name, etc. There are so many practices that people just go along with because it's tradition that are total bullshit when you actually examine them.

  13. That's so great. It's always nice when parents are supportive. My mother was the breadwinner growing up and primarily raised my sister and I after my parents got divorced, so that's definitely influenced me as well.

  14. Haha, no I didn't see that costume! That's so silly. And, it's okay, you can come out of your corner. I totally get taking awhile to claim your feminism.

  15. Isn't that so frustrating? It's like rape is just taken as a given and it's up to women to live around men. It's insulting to both men and women. Yeah, women should take precautions because we live in the world we do, but that still doesn't mean they were asking for it if they don't, and the real problem are the people who rape.

  16. I love this post. You say all the things I want to say but in a much better way than I ever could.

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine