As a Young Boo … An Awakening
I started life in a religion that told me The Father is the head of the household. But luckily, I had my amazing mother who taught me, rather than told me, right from wrong. As a young girl, to me, girls and boys were different simply because we had different private parts, in the most Kindergarten Cop kind of way: Boys had penises, girls had vaginas. And, as a tomboyish girl, that was fine with me. Friends were friends, whether they were boys or girls. In fact, for my first 7 years of life, my best friends were boys. I couldn’t tell the difference – I just knew that we all liked to play the same games, like war, and wild animals.
It wasn’t until I got a little older when the world started telling me that boys and girls were different for other reasons. Boys were better at science. Girls didn’t ask questions in class. Boys were doctors. Girls were nurses. Boys played sports. Girls played house. Boys could be powerful. Girls should be pretty. Boys had careers. Girls had children. Boys became Men. Girls became Mom.
As a Teen Boo … A Growing Awareness
Then, as a teenager, those differences became more complicated. Boys planned to lose their virginity. Girls planned their wedding dresses. Boys could, and should, have sex with as many girls as possible. Girls shouldn’t have sex with anyone. Boys could drive fast cars and be rowdy. Girls could sit in the passenger seat and look good. Boys asked a girl’s father for permission to marry their daughter. Girls didn’t ask anyone shit.
As a Young Adult Boo … A Warrior
As a young adult, again, those differences were more complicated, but still defining. Men were seen as fiesty and hardnosed businessmen if they mades demands in the workplace. Women were seen as bitches for the same characteristics. Men were the execs. Women were the secretaries. Men got promoted for playing golf. Women got promoted for playing with their boss. Men could be flirtatious and friendly, and it was seen as charming and approachable. Women could be flirtatious and friendly, and be seen as a slut.
Yes, to some extent, these things are stereotypes. But they exist. And despite how far “feminism” has brought women in the last 40 years, they still exist. For a long time, these differences infuriated me. I became hard, and angry, and lashed out at anything that I saw as unfair, because for so fucking long, those imbalances in fairness had not fallen in my favor. I saw myself as A Feminist, a warrior that must wage battle against every gender-based iniquity that befell me or my sister women. I let my anger and my emotions lead me, I let my head tell me what to do. I left my heart out in the cold, and instead, warmed my hands on the fires of fairness.
Redefining My Feminism
Then one day, I grew up. I started to look around and realize that I was oppressing myself just as much as my oppressors, and, gasp, not all of my oppressors were men. They came in every shape, size, color, and, yes, gender. But one thing that they all had in common: They were insecure individuals looking to wield whatever little bit of power they held over others. I opened my eyes to realize that the battle of injustice was not just one of the sexes, but one of the classes, beliefs, and all other manner of defining groups of people. I determined that I was a Feminist, yes, and I decided to redefine what that meant to me. I am still constantly working on that definition, because the more I grow, the more it grows. And now, to me, being a feminist is more about caring about my fellow human beings, and fellow furry friends, than it is about worrying over what imbalances there are because of my gender.
Obviously, sexism is a very real thing. Just as racism, and classism, and any other manner of hating a group of people because of a common characteristic. These injustices are what I rail against. These broad sweeps of the hating pen are what I yearn to erase. With that, I would like to share my ongoing list of what I believe defines me as a feminist. This is in no way a complete list, and it appears in no certain order. Nor does this apply to everyone’s opinion of what defines feminism. This is mine, and I hope that there is at least one thing on this list to which any one person can relate.
Creating your world your way
Respecting everyone’s experience
Agreeing to disagree
Loving for love’s sake
Equality for all living beings
Caring for yourself and others
Living life, not running from it
Trusting your own instincts
Embracing the nurturing qualities of yourself and those around you
Dealing with your emotions, not hiding from them
Knowing where your issues end and others’ begin
Embracing the power of heart
Nurturing the good in yourself and others
Not taking other’s emotions personally
Thinking for yourself