Because It’s Time I Corrected Myself

My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” -Flavia Dzodan.

A few months ago, towards the end of May, I wrote my first post blatantly acknowledging my feminist viewpoints. While I stand by the general points I made in that post, e.g. women are people too and deserve to be treated as such, there are a few things–and one main thing–that were problematic about this article. I apologize.

I wrote the article in a way that suggested that, while women are not treated as equals, we are treated equally. There may be truth in this to some extent, but the problem with my writing is that feminism goes beyond just sexism. I would love to live in a world in which all women have the same rights, but that isn’t the world we’re living in.

Because every woman faces her own unique experience, and feminism doesn’t just have to do with sexism, it has to do with racism and classism and ableism and homophobia and transphobia and so many other things. Because a white woman faces different oppressions* and societal expectations than a woman of color than a white queer woman than a trans woman of color than a trans queer woman than a Christian queer woman of color than a Muslim woman who uses a wheelchair. Because the privileges in our society have many platforms and there is no way to examine one without taking into account and examining the others.

Oppression takes many forms, not just one, forms that bleed into one another and shift and intersect, none acting independently of one another. There are many interrelated forms of discrimination, and that’s why feminism needs intersectionality.

I’m still learning. I am by no means an authority figure on intersectionality or any social justice issues. I have privilege many don’t have and I face discrimination others do not. I am sixteen. I am young, and I am imperfect, and I make mistakes, and I’m still learning. My posts on the subject of intersectional feminism, and other subjects, will not be perfect and will probably be flawed in many ways. Call me out. The best way for me to learn is by fixing the mistakes I know I’m bound to make.

I’m a white queer middle-middle class abled (physically, at least, mental health issues are a topic I hope to tackle more in-depth) Christian cisgendered woman. There are many things I cannot understand because of the privileges I have. And that’s really difficult for me to come to terms with. But I have to. And I have to keep trying. I can never fully understand the discrimination many people face, but that just means I need to learn and grow and do everything in my power to work towards that understanding even harder. It goes beyond just solidarity. It’s about immersing yourself in problems regardless of whether you directly are affected by them, because if they are affecting someone else then they are affecting your world, and the world is in everyone’s hands, not just yours or theirs. It’s about acting, rising up together in acknowledgement of intersectionality and understanding that you may never be able to understand one another completely but standing together anyway.

It’s about however you choose to fight, be it peacefully or rather less than, and having the courage not to fight alone.

*When I say oppression, I do not mean it in the sense that groups who face its forms are lowly or meek or underpowered. I use oppression to mean injustice, to mean the systemized discrimination and cruelty against people, and to demonstrate the disparity of privilege within society. Oppression affects different people in different ways but it does not mean you are any less awesome and desirable and kickass.

P.S. I’ve been nominated for a couple of blog awards, which I will be doing the posts for shortly, in case you’re interested/wanting another post/grumbling at me for not having gotten to them already/turned into a squirrel. Just kidding about that last part. Maybe. Maybe squirrels care about intersectionality too.

Because It’s Time I Said This

I am a feminist.

Go ahead and gasp now. Go ahead and think I’m an angsty lesbian who doesn’t shave and hates men. If those are really the first things that pop into your head when you read the above statement, then I invite you to read the rest of this, because you need it most. If your first instinct is to laugh and not take me seriously, you also would do well to hear me out. And go read some other, more eloquent works than mine, while you’re at it. Education is the best way to combat misogyny.

Before we begin, no, I don’t hate men. Not at all. The first friend I ever made in kindergarten was a boy. Everyone called him my boyfriend because apparently women aren’t allowed to have guys who are just plain friends. But that’s more to do with heteronormativity. And I know there’s an awful lot of injustice towards men too–people forget that with all the gender roles women are supposed to conform to, it’s also hard to have everyone expect you to be strong, physically capable, dominant, and in control of your emotions. I know that things are dreadfully unfair to people who don’t conform to our gender binary, they don’t even have a legally recognized gender, and to say that is an injustice is putting it more than mildly. There are so many things that need fixing in our society. I’ll probably post more about those later. But today I am here to talk to you about feminism, and why I consider myself a feminist.

I don’t typically like to post when I’m angry. Ranting gets you nowhere, generally speaking, and I believe people often say things in anger they don’t mean. But with social justice issues, I think it’s different. Getting furious about injustice towards women gives me an odd sort of clarity on the subject, and if I’m ranting then so be it. It’s time I brought the conversation about feminism to my own blog, because much as people talk about it there is still an incredible amount not being done to change things. I need to talk about this.

Because there are those who stick up for people like Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and himself because he believed he was entitled to the women who rejected him, and the people defending him say those he killed had it coming. That the girls owed him sex because he “needed” it. And tweets and other social media statements are rarely as “soft” as “I don’t blame guns, I blame blondes for this one.”

Because my dad doesn’t believe he is a misogynist, and when I try to call him out on it I get told I’m “overreacting.” And if he were reading this, I would get into trouble for saying so.

Because feminists everywhere get told they are overreacting. Because nine times out of ten people laugh at me, or give me pitying looks, or adopt a “look what the cat dragged in” expression when I start talking about feminism. Because nobody takes me seriously. Because in our society to be an angry woman is to be not taken seriously.

Because every time I go out, I have to think about what I have with me to make sure I could use it as a weapon in case of an emergency, and when I’m walking I go through scenarios in my head to prepare myself for what I’d do. Because every time I’m walking alone and a car drives by a hair too slowly, a man is behind me a block too long, I start feeling panicky and my heart rate speeds up and I hold whatever I’m carrying in a position that makes it easiest to clock someone across the head with. Because I shouldn’t have to fear for my life just because I’m not accompanied by a man.

Because I have been taught that I am a sexual object, whether because the clothes I wear might cause someone to abuse me or that I have to watch the way I act or else I “have it coming.” I understand that in these times those things are a matter of safety, even life or death for me. And that is fucked up.

Because when I wear an outfit that makes me feel sexy I feel equally guilty for having the audacity to dress in a way I’ve been taught is wrong. Because I am a sexy being, and I’ve been taught that I shouldn’t be, but that paradoxically I’m supposed to have sex with all the guys because I owe it to them. Because I feel equally afraid of what could happen to me if I dress like I know I’m an attractive girl.

Because it’s simply ingrained in our society that girls owe sex to guys, and consensual sex is something that actually needs to be talked about.

Because sex education programs do such a terrible job of this and rarely discuss birth-control methods with women in depth, or even at all, and they are incredibly heterocentric and biased.

Because obviously a woman thinking for herself or being in control of her own body is dangerous, and we need to de-educate her or she’ll see the injustices we’ve been doing.

Because I am mocked or disregarded for thinking for myself.

Because rape culture is a huge problem, from the actual sheer amount of sexual assaults happening to songs with lyrics along the lines of “mmm gurl you hot come on I know you want it come make out with me now” to boys “accidentally” brushing up against my butt or my chest. Because this happens to every girl I know, and it still gets told off with the same “boys will be boys.”

Because I’ll get told I’m “just being an angry feminist again” when I try to call these issues to attention.

Because identifying as a feminist can be anything from something that’ll get you laughed at to something downright dangerous.

Because there are so many more issues, and I can’t fit them into a single post, or ten posts, or a hundred posts.

Because inevitably someone, or multiple someones, will comment on this calling me dirty names and saying I’m blowing the whole issue out of proportion. And that’s if I’m lucky.