Noun. The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
A few weeks ago, in one of my classes, the teacher asked a question that only one person answered honestly. I don’t remember the specifics, or how exactly we got on the topic, but she wanted to know: Who here, considers themselves a feminist?
And I don’t know if this happened, or if it was just a feeling I got, but a few guys in the row in front of me turned around and looked right at me.
Now, I participated a lot in that class. Always had an opinion on something we read. There aren’t many girls in that class, and I sat with a few of them in the second row. So it is very likely that they were just looking around at all the girls to see who was raising their hand and who wasn’t. But a part of me felt that some people looked at me specifically–even though they do not know me that well– because they were 100% certain that, the very opinionated me would definitely raise her hand, especially because I have pointed out the male v. female dynamic in the novels that we have read.
My initial instinct was to keep my hand down, glare back at these guys and restraint myself from snapping, What? Although my expression did scream it, I kept the words in. The teacher glanced around the room, and only one hand was raised. This professor has published many works on feminism, so to me this was a topic that should be approached cautiously. I had the strong urge to raise my hand, high and proud. Self-preservation kicked in instantly though, and I immediately shut that urge down.
I told myself–I’m not going to raise my hand because if she asks what makes me a feminist I would not be able to explain it. This. This feeling of self-doubt, of not feeling like I hold a solid stance on anything, of being doubtful of my own beliefs. It is not a fun feeling. I don’t even know why it has come up this year, but it has, and it messes up everything. But that’s not what I’m getting at.
The point is: I am easily swayed. I’ll be passionate about something, but one question that I don’t have the answer to, and suddenly I’m a deflated balloon. I have no idea what to say, and I start scrambling to regain some control, to make an argument without raising my voice (according to my sister, I try to win an argument by screaming the loudest, HA) and just have a SOLID stance. I just wish everything was black and white sometimes, you know? That I could be either a feminist or not a feminist, and not somewhere in the middle.
The truth? I’m hardcore all for women’s rights, to vote (DONE in the 1920s), to work (HAPPENING ALREADY), to exist (Well, yeah), to get equal pay (Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act!), and of being independent in general. But there’s a small part of me that’s obsessed with those characters in Jane Austen’s novels who just want to be wined and dined and serenaded. I just grew up with those books and movies, and I’m really embarrassed about it, okay? And I know it’s what I believe and I shouldn’t care about what people think but I do. I can’t stop it. No matter how many times you tell me over and over, DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK, I physically cannot stop my mind from wandering to that, and obsessing over every little thing I do in public. It’s just me. Can’t help it.
But I digress. The point is, I’m against the oppression of women in the name of religion, and the idea that a woman belongs in the kitchen. But I feel like the word “feminist” has negative connotations. It feels like a radical movement where women obsess over every little thing that men do and make it sound like it’s anti-feminist. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. It’s just how I see it though–plus, and YES, this is a tad bit ridiculous, but we have to admit there are some things that women just haven’t been the best at (examples of political leaders that ended up being corrupt or doing something crippling the image of strong, capable female leaders in the so-called ‘East’ — Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi, Sheikh Hasina), and could definitely use improvement in. Just sayin’.