Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I’m a feminist because.

I’m a feminist.

This is a wonderful and a terrible thing to be. I’m a part of a movement that has helped and hurt humanity. I am doing things about the problems I am seeing in the world, and also contributing to them. I am trying to challenge the kyriarchy, while reinforcing it.

It is often thankless work. People write me horrible things, attack and debase me, for saying what I think. It takes a huge amount of time, so that I am always wrung out, desiccated. I have a lot of skill and put in a ton of time, but I’m scraping by.

It is work that is rewarding me for the things it claims to fight. My fuckups will likely be forgiven, my voice centralized, not just because I am a talented and hardworking writer, but because I have the privilege that makes people give me a second and third and fourth chance where I don’t’ deserve it, because I have the class privilege to keep writing and keep dedicating valuable time after I fail.

I am a feminist because I would not be here without them, literally and figuratively. A feminist birthed me, and other feminists made sure that I had the right to school. A feminist raised me to care about and respect my body, and other feminists defended my right to operate and protect it. A feminist raised me to think for myself, and other feminists helped me find and refine my voice.

I am a feminist because feminism was designed for women of my privilege. Feminists made sure that I benefited from this movement where others did not. That my assignment at birth made my identity real while other women were banned and shunned and killed. That my voice would be central, be seen as always relevant, because of my race. That my work would be praised and encouraged, because I don’t look like I have disabilities.

And I am both these things, the wonderful and the awful, the oppressed and the privileged. I am what makes feminism awful and wonderful: a voice that is empowered when I’m told to shut it, a voice that is powerful, at the cost of other folks’ power.

Feminism is wonderful. Feminism is destructive. These things both exist. The brave battle does not erase the lazy privilege, and the hatred in its name does not change the beauty in its past.

I haven’t quit feminism despite how hypocritical and oppressive it can be. Because it’s me and women like me who’ve made it a toxic, kyriarichal environment. Because it’s my mess, too, and I’ve got to grab a scoop and pitch in.

I haven’t quit feminism even though it’s tiring and challenging and often thankless to critique the world. Because it’s something that fuels and feeds me when I face the bullets of the kyriarchy that greet me each morning. Because it’s a movement that is bettering the world by fighting oppression, and I’ve got to grab a hammer and help tear it down.


  1. What do you mean when you say that feminism has hurt humanity and that feminism is destructive?

  2. I am a feminist because I am a woman who didn't have the opportunity to live as one for the first forty-five years of her life.

    Any woman who's had to fight to be her own person is a feminist. And feminism is that conundrum that helps and hurts women because that is exactly what fighting does, both to the one who fights and whomever she is fighting for.

  3. Well-said, RMJ!

    I am a feminist because I am a woman who couldn't live as one for the first 45 years of her life. Anyone who has had to fight for the right to be who she is, and is capable of being, is a feminist. That we have to fight is the very reason why feminism helps and hurts us: That is exactly what fighting does to the fighter and the ones for whom she fights.

  4. @Clarissa - I'm going to refer you to a previous post of mine, on Sarah Palin and feminism: http://www.deeplyproblematic.com/2010/05/sarah-palin-is-feminist-actually.html

    In short: feminism has a long history of racism, cissexism, ableism. It often works more for white, abled, rich, straight, cis women - women like me - and not women who face other forms of oppression.

    @Justine: Thank you :)

  5. Hi! I didn't mean to post twice. There was a glitch after my first comment, and I thought it was lost. That's why I commented again. Feel free to delete one of them.


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