The more I am out and talking with others about Nerdy Girl Supplies™ and the work I’m doing, the more I am realizing that I need to come out. I have heard the whispers behind my back. Had the suggestive questioning. But it wasn’t until my husband came out and point blank asked the question on peoples’ minds that the need really became clear.
Are you becoming a feminist? he asked.
At that moment, two things hit me. 1) Don’t you know me?! and 2) an internal cringe at the word feminist.
Let’s get this out of the way first. In no uncertain terms, I am a feminist. Always have been. The problem is I have been a very quiet one. Many of my friends will find this funny because I’m typically a pretty loud person unafraid to share my opinions with others (whether they want them or not).
Why so quiet and for so long?
Remember my second reaction? That internal cringe to the word feminist. For me and the era I grew up, that word was almost equivalent to a dirty word. The negativity surrounding that word was prevalent. Still is. Feminists are angry, men hating, controlling bitches.
I remember having conversations in high school and college voicing my opinions. The reaction is an eye roll of many and the statement “Oh God! You’re a feminist!”. And it was like the conversation was shut down. She’s irrational. Can’t talk to her. It felt so insurmountable of an issue that how could I attack it? How could I actually make a difference? It’s not like I’m going to fix the wage gap or anything like that with this one conversation. So instead of being seen as a crazy radical, I kept my comments to myself. I kept quiet. And it started to seem like things were normaling out. Women were making strides.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King
So why now?
Have I just had enough? Am I doing this because it’s in now? There isn’t just one thing that I can point to. It’s been a culmination of things. I’ve had this feeling for a while…I want to do something bigger than myself. I want to make a difference. I don’t want to just work (even if it is for myself) and pay bills, run errands, etc. I want to make my community a better place. What better way than to share my voice and help others find theirs.
Remember how I just said that women were making strides? They were for awhile. But do you know that in the last 5 years the gender gap is actually widening? I wonder if it’s because there were people like me being quiet in the closet. Not speaking out. Not taking a stand. Maybe I have had enough. Maybe my talking to just one person can make a difference.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
So as I step out, I want to clear up a misconception of feminists (and really any group). In speaking up for the rights and equality of women, I am not abdicating the removal of rights and privileges of men. Simply that women deserve those same rights and privileges. It is not necessary to take something away from one group in order to treat all fairly and equally.
Tell me…Are you a feminist? I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your communities.