There was this lone tree in the middle of a small patch of grass at school that us ‘freaks’ claimed for ourselves (until the school chopped it down, presumably because we were having too much fun), and this was where we would have lunch every day, provided it wasn’t sopping wet or covered in snow. I distinctly recall one lunch break at school at the tree, sat munching my sandwiches happily, when the subject of feminism came up.
“I think feminism is stupid,” one of my friends began. “It’s full of man-hating women that just want to be superior to men. I want to be equal to men; I don’t hate men at all.”
We all nod. “It should be called equalitism or something,” someone adds, having yet to be introduced to humanism I presume.
“I agree with women’s rights,” I remember saying, “but I’m not a feminist.”
At the time, this statement was entirely correct. I have always been a fierce supporter of equality in all forms, but never did I identify as a feminist. Even as I began to call myself “Ms” instead of miss – following a lesson on the origins of the term that left me feeling unclean – I wouldn’t allow myself to be called a feminist. I knew of no feminists, who were frequently criticized by the adults in my life, so my stereotyped view of them was left unchecked. I didn’t want to be a hairy, unclean, militant, grumpy bra-burner who loathed men.
Over the course of time, I began to understand that the people peddling these ideas that feminism is the domain of hairy, man-hating lesbians were the same people desperately trying to suppress the fight for equal rights for… well, just about everyone really. It’s seems pretty obvious to me now, but as a kid you just aren’t aware of these things, especially when no one you know is a feminist. In fact, my first introduction to someone with the same views as me identifying as a feminist was in my media heroes; people typically named Ellen or Jess who talk a lot of intelligent stuff and who’s brains I would literally kiss if it wouldn’t kill them instantly.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? You’d be right – the entire freakin’ point of me telling you all of this is that we should be proud to be supporters of equality. We need to shout from every rooftop how freaking awesome it feels not to be oppressing people.
Because if we don’t, there are going to remain a whole bunch of very confused people out there who genuinely believe the bullshit that people say about advocates for women’s rights, and are going to fall into the traps set by conservative prudes desperate to keep them in their places. That isn’t extreme – it’s already happened to a lot of the girls who were in that very conversation with me that day. They’ve accepted their ‘lot’ in life, and given up on big dreams, just because those dreams aren’t the done thing for ladies. That’s so sad. Seriously – fuck that shit. No more.
So let’s talk about rights; loudly, publicly, until it drives our neighbours bonkers. Let’s don a uniform of pro-whatever badges, and bumper stickers, and t-shirts, maybe even shoes. Let’s all be feminists.