Friday, May 1, 2009


I have been a feminist since I was eight, about around the time I began to want to move out of Kansas. My mother was reading Ms., and took the opportunity to explain feminism to me.

"Feminists think that things aren't equal between men and women and want to change that. Some feminists go really far and are against everything men do, but most just want things to be equal, and that's what I believe."

Maybe her summary of some radical feminists was a little dismissive. But I was eight, and her definition convinced me to adopt the latter interpretation into my worldview. Soon after, I began using my mother’s name (my mother kept her name when she married my father and gave me and my brothers her name as a middle name) as part of my everyday name. The name didn’t stick until college, but it was a key shift in the way I thought of myself.

Fourteen years later, I remain a feminist. My use of feminism as a belief system, a coping mechanism, and a method of processing the world is about the only thing about me that didn't change during my identity crisis, which began in sixth grade and should end any day now. But while my identity as a feminist is one of the most core parts of my conscious thought, I find that my life is becoming more and more deeply heteronormative as it becomes more and more deeply satisfying.

I am living very happily with a young man who is everything I want in a partner – smart, funny, kind, and honest. While he is respectful of my beliefs and is always willing to engage in discourse of a feminist nature with me, he does not share that part of my ideology, and he never will. As a primary benefactor of the patriarchy, he doesn’t feel the need to fight the system that feeds him. And as I grow closer to him, I find that my sympathy for the devil grows. I am coming to a feminist understanding and appreciation of patriarchal undertakings – particularly in art and media. I enjoy artists of occasional virulent racism and misogyny like David Allen Coe and less offensive but still status-quo-advocating television like King of the Hill. And while I am glad that I am moving away from the impulse to demonize that which does not immediately adhere to my beliefs, I fear that I am starting down a road that leads to ignoring their threats to equality instead of viewing critically and finding a balance.

I am blogging as an attempt to resist complacency as I embrace happiness.

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