I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Over the years my ideas, as well as society’s, about what feminism means has changed greatly, but I still proudly profess my feminism.
As a young girl, I was fixated on boys. I wanted to date boys, marry boys, make little baby boys. When I had a man, I was loyal to him, I took care of him. I thought about getting married a couple of times, thinking that would be the end of my problems. I would have someone to help me out through life, keep me safe. Like all little girls, I believed the patriarchal propaganda getting shoved down my throat since birth.
As a young adult, I always considered myself a strong, independent woman. I only let guys pay half of the time, I wanted to be a doctor. I always had a boyfriend, though. My boyfriends and I would talk shit about all of my single girlfriends who were slutting it up. I’d say, “Feminism isn’t about acting like a guy, becoming emotionally inept, power-hungry, horndogs. Women should still act like women, but be pure and nurturing mothers or professional career women if they choose. And men should act more like women if they want. To hell with gender roles.” Not realizing that I was doing what women are “supposed to do,” gossip and talk shit about each other, fight with other women, and agree with men.
Nearly a decade later, half of it spent single and exploring my identity and my sexuality, my views of feminism have clearly shifted once again. I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to define feminism. The way someone practices their feminism is contingent on his or her unique experiences navigating the world. Lately, however, I have been feeling many people trying to force their ideas of feminism on me, and spurning me if I disagree.
Ever since women were recently granted the right to think for themselves, there has been a division amongst us. Now that she has some autonomy, how should she behave? Now that she can work, what should she be allowed to make? Does anyone else wonder why teachers and nurses are so underpaid for the imperative jobs they do? I don’t think it was women making these decisions, and it still isn’t. Because the decisions we make are based on ideologies instilled in us by our fathers.
If I laugh at rape jokes, can I not say #MeToo? Even though I was a victim of sexual assault? If I objectify myself for a living, can I not call myself a feminist? Even though stripping empowers me? Even if it helped me succeed in life more than my college degree did? Am I “a part of the problem” because I didn’t vote for Hillary? What about the women picketing outside the abortion clinic, because of their religious views? Aren’t we all victims of inequality and injustice?
I didn’t want to bring up my political views on the blog originally because I didn’t feel the communities I write for would agree, and didn’t find it relevant. I also believe people’s need to label everything and everyone has consequences. But politics, religion, sexuality, race, and gender are all different building blocks to an individual’s identity and belief system. To ostracize someone because of any of these beliefs is to attack their personal freedom.
I feel identifying as a “Spiritual Christian,” libertarian, bisexual is part of the reason I constantly feeling like a fish out of water. “Spiritual Christian” is just what I say when people ask my religious beliefs. I am both spiritual, as I believe aspects of many theologies and create my own, and Christian, I was baptized and pray to Jesus. Although, some Christians would say I’m “not Christian enough” because I believe in other entities. Trying to date in the LGBTQ community as a bisexual feels like you’re “too straight” to be considered.
I never caught so much flack as a bisexual libertarian as I did the last election. Gary Johnson wasn’t my favorite libertarian candidate, but I really thought he could get 5% this year, which would allow the party to join the debate next election. I would obviously love for my voice to be heard, but people were attacking me, saying a vote for anyone but Hillary is a vote for Trump, and that I “wasted” my vote. After he was elected, it was like you can’t be feminist or bi and support Trump, or do anything less than despise him. (It’s not that I don’t despise him, just that I despise Hillary too). The LA Pride parade earlier this year became the “Resist March” that was “not supposed to be democratic or republican,” but ultimately became an Anti-Trump march. In my opinion, this divided the community it was meant to bring together. I see moral confusion and abhorrence trickling down from the pinnacles of society, corroding communities at every level.
Beliefs are not black and white, there are gray areas. People always tell you, “Just make up your mind! Choose one!” Why must I choose one, when there are so many options? So many combinations of the two, options beyond the two you haven’t even imagined!
Feminism is something unique and personal to everyone, so why are we segregating those who don’t share all of the same beliefs? Don’t we all have the freedom to believe what we wish, without the social chastisement?
If you disagree with someone, feel free to argue with them, provide evidence for your opinions, but at the end of the debate, if they still disagree with you, that’s their right. Don’t shame them, and hate them. Don’t excommunicate them from your community. A community exclusively of individuals with mirrored belief systems will lack adequate size and strength to make a difference. It also sounds to me like a cult because naturally, people disagree on some things!
An informative Washington Post article suggests modern feminism should focus on equality, inclusion, and personal choice. Anyone who wants to join the fight for equality should be allowed to. Period.
…But to paint a silver lining, if we are strong enough for them to try so hard to divide us, that means we are getting stronger.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”-Martin Luther King, Jr.