For tonight’s Feminist Friday guest post Lou Sarabadzic, a blogger and all around awesome lady, speaks about growing up as a Feminist.
I realised I was a feminist as a child. I must have been 11 or 12, tops. I obviously didn’t know what it meant. I only started wondering about it because almost as soon as I voiced a clear opinion (or heard another girl/woman voice an opinion), however trivial – a terrified grown-up would ask me the question: ‘But you’re not a feminist, right?’ Has there not been such an offended, derisive and reproachful tone in their question, I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought. But people (friends, family, strangers, virtually everyone) sounded so offended that I MIGHT be a feminist, that I MIGHT want to like or defend another woman, that I thought: wait… what does that actually mean?
I asked people. Many people. Mostly grown-ups and teenagers. I read magazines aimed at women. Then I took a dictionary. And the difference between people’s definition and the dictionary’s one was so unbelievably big I wondered if I got the spelling right… I was being told by pretty much everyone that feminists were extreme, violent, aggressive, old-fashioned, ugly and unlovable. And in the dictionary, it just said that it was just a case of defending women’s rights, because for so long, they hadn’t been the same as the men’s (still are not, but it didn’t say…).
My feminism is deeply rooted in anger, and there’s no way I’ll hide that, or try to sugar-coat it. I’m so angry at everything the world sends our way. I’m outraged everyday by what is normalised. I hate that this oppression is everywhere I go, in whatever situation. I hate even more that I am expected to apologise for not liking it, sometimes even asked to be thankful for it. It still pains me to realise each time that I am the one who needs to explain myself for feeling outraged by unequal treatment and obvious violence. Surely, you can’t ignore the shit women have to experience all over the world every freaking day, can you?
I’m in the position of an extremely privileged feminist. I’m white, middle-class, I went to University. I was able to spend years working on rhetoric, studying gender and language/literature to be ready to discuss relevant topics. So many women are not lucky enough to make that choice. In addition, so many women face even more prejudice and experience the most disgusting discrimination because they don’t conform in one way or another: not white enough, not Western enough, not wealthy enough, not straight enough, not sexualised enough, not Cis enough, not female enough…
I’m convinced as a feminist that intersectionality should be an absolute priority: we need to hear and empower people, not make decisions in their names and patronise them. There are many ways to support intersectionality. As a bookworm, reading is my way of spreading thoughts and ideas: I post excerpts of books I read on Twitter and Facebook. Many of these books are openly feminist. It’s essential that many are from under-represented writers: ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA*, disabled authors… When people say: ‘how could I encourage intersectionality myself? I’m not in power, nor a manager or a journalist, you know!’, I say: well, as privileged human beings we both are, I know a simple, free option: go to the library and borrow books to hear voices we don’t usually hear. Read blogs, articles, I don’t know. Whatever you want to do: read, listen, share.
I strongly believe that feminism is necessary to both individual and collective survival. And we’re not done fighting. So I guess, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it, we should all be feminists.
Thank you so much, Lou, for this brilliant post. If you’d like to be a part of Feminist Fridays please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!