As this semester draws to a close, I’d love to sit down with everyone and just talk about the blog. But, due to time constraints (and the fact that everyone is running around like their hair is on fire because of finals), that’s not the most feasible goal I’ve ever had.
So, I guess I’ll just pretend like we’re all talking (not in a creepy, I have a made up conversation kind of way, though).
I think it’s important for me to wrap up the semester by talking about some of the goals I had for the Totally Awesome Women series. I got the idea over Christmas Break and was so jazzed about writing on T.A.W.s that I came up with a HUGE list of some pretty awesome (duh) women. I knew I had a lot of reasons for writing the series, but they never got fully articulated until we went to the women and gender studies conference midway through the semester.
For me, like everyone, feminism has been a journey. I first encountered “feminism” in the form of huge stacks of evidence (literature) being thrown at me from my high school debate team. ”Here, learn this! You can always win if you pull the women card.” Like any ridiculous high school student, of course I said, “oooo feminism is awesome. I love winning.”
Needless to say, I had no idea what I was reading, why I was reading it (or anything else, for that matter). Eventually, I realized that I was starting to get fired up about sexism more. Could that be what feminism really is?
So, I set the stack of papers in front of me and I started reading. Damn, feminism is crazy talk. What does this shit mean? The old me would have pretended like I knew what I was talking about anyways. But not the new me. I was determined to get this shit right once and for all.
As I grappled with “feminism,” I started turning to pop culture for more tangible referents. Is Britney Spears a feminist? Umm…probs not. Is that sexism in that beer commercial? I think so…
While I may or may not have known what “feminism” was, I knew damn well that I hated that patriarchy thing.
When I entered college and joined JMU’s (awesome) debate team, I was hit in the face with reality. Trust me, it was not a smooth transition, it was not graceful, it was ugly…like some embarrassing thing you see on TV that makes you feel weird (think Bridget Jones). I can’t exactly articulate how this face-hitting occurred, but it boiled down to one thing. I probably shouldn’t use feminism just to win an argument (particularly if I didn’t even know who Betty Friedan was…ok it wasn’t that bad).
So, being the competitive person that I am (I love winning!), I read more literature. I expected that if I read more, I would understand more, and probably appreciate more, but the main thing was, I would win and it would be genuine, right? What I did not expect was just how “in” to feminism I would go.
Now, to be honest, my journey was not as black and white as this post suggests. But, it almost was and for me, that’s something to talk about. Although it’s funny to reflect on my path to fighting for equality, it’s also a little scary.
How do you understand feminism the first time you two meet? What is it to be a “real” feminist? Tons of questions were raised during this throwback to my nerdy high school past (some more questions were raised, but we won’t go into them here….let’s just say there was a time when oversized Nirvana shirts occupied 99% of my closet…not that that’s bad or anything, but when you pair them with knee-high neon socks from Hot Topic and sandals…well, you get the idea). Where was I again?
Oh, right. Well, anyways, after taking more WMST classes, growing up a bit, etc., I thought it was important to look back at some of these questions and relive my process. What better way to do that than the blog???
Obviously, my recreation has some differences (the use of grammar, for example). But, I want to put something out there that is tangible for people “new” to feminism (I’m old, but not an expert by any means). Too often, feminism devolves into a debate over what is “more feminist.” I don’t really like that. I think it leads to a big pot of stereotyping, negativity, and impracticality.
I find it much more productive to engage in feminist thought in more realistic way. We all can’t and won’t stop shaving our legs, wearing makeup, wearing big sparklys (yes, I said it). And I think a lot of feminists have a problem with that. To a degree, I do too. But, I think that is a small battle (and it’s a battle against potential allies). To me, if someone makes a conscious and calculated choice to do any of those things, who am I to critique that?
Instead, I think there is some common ground we should/could be focusing on. Although Bridget Jones might not be the “perfect” feminist, I think many of us can find at least one feminist thing about her. I think this is a better way to approach feminism because no matter how hard all of us try, there will be a conflict where we choose the “opposite” of feminism. It may be when we put on some blush when getting ready for that super hot date. It may be when we buy a product that has (essentially) endorsed sexism (Miller Lite, I’m on to your methods…). or whatever. Are we all bad feminists? No. We’re real feminists.
I find it interesting that my posts have been considered more “moderate” by a few people. I don’t really know how to take that but it does get me thinking. I know what I am saying on the blog is not super enlightening. But, I feel a need to say it. Why? I know my personal views and actions are probably more radical than what I talk about on the blog much of the time. I guess because I still think most people view feminists as dirty, lesbian hippies (which, if you are a dirty, lesbian hippie, it’s totally fine, but I don’t think we all are). It’s easy to hate a group when you think they’re too exclusive for you. To me, feminism shouldn’t be like that. Feminism should be the safe space where people can go to be themselves.
So, to bring this semester to a close, I know I’ve had a ton of fun writing about these awesome (duh) ladies. I loved being able to spend hours on IMDB and other sites for “research” purposes. I found out some really great things about these women and I hope you did, too. Most importantly, I think I’ve become much more positive as a feminist (and I’m ok with that). It’s one small step for women, but it could end up as one giant step for feminism.