Who is a feminist anyway?
I am late with the post this week because:
I left my laptop at work and had a 40 mile round trip to retrieve it on a Saturday night, uhh
This is quite a difficult and big and complex topic to address, is most certainly not linear, and is by no means a finished article (or for the purposes of this, a blog post)
I had an interesting conversation this week, with an open-minded person at work. Skirting around the topic if feminism, I was asked to explain what feminism is. My first thought was what, me? I am no way an expert in wrapping up feminism in a not-so-neat bow in one short lunchtime conversation. I can't do that. I’m not a real feminist. What is a real feminist? I realised that there are facets of feminism I know about, and reflected on who this ‘real’ feminist was that I was pitting myself against.
For background context – I wasn’t brought up in a feminist, or even remotely equal household. I played with barbies, I ate turkey twizzlers and I watched too much cartoon network. I wasn’t really introduced to feminism until doing my PhD, and more specifically, feminism as a movement didn’t speak to me until I attended a keynote speech by Reni Eddo Lodge at the Psychology of Women Section Annual Conference in 2014. It was here that for the first time I was introduced to intersectionality, and it blew my mind (literally, I had to go and have a lie down). Being of a similar age to Reni, it also made me acutely aware of my naive and bubbled (read: ignorant) existence that had led me to not even be fully aware of gender, sexuality and race, amongst other things. And I was embarrassed. So I read, a lot. I attended talks. I immersed myself in feminist conversation, literature, and TV (yassssss OITNB).
I still don’t feel like a fully fledged feminist (symptom of imposter syndrome?) But why? Because I haven’t experienced any of the previous important waves of feminism first hand? Because I enjoy wearing make-up? Because there's still so much more to learn? And I think that’s the issue. There is so much, so much important stuff to learn, so much to engage in – being a feminist is like having a spidey-sense for everything going on – you see the inequality, the injustices, the overly whiteness of everything and the shitty structures that support casual sexism and racism. But the more we talk about these issues, the more accessible feminism becomes, the more people realise that you do not have to be a woman to be a feminist, or burn your bras, or hate men.
I think my point is - we do not need to be experts in feminism to understand what feminism is, and what is stands for. Talk about it. Open up dialogue. There is so much fantastic feminist writing out there. Do not exclude others. Be open-minded.
By no means is this a finished post, but I do hope it starts conversations.