There are a lot of wonderful things about finally being in my thirties. I have a home. I care less and less about what my body is “supposed” to look like (though I still care, I’m not a saint). Only my mother reprimands me for swearing. I’ve done some shit and been some places. I have furniture I like, not just furniture that was cheap. I have clothes I like and a wide range of food I cook passably well.
The best part about being in my thirties is that I know myself pretty well. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. Overall, I like who I am, I respect where I’ve been, and I’m optimistic about where I’m going.
If the best part of being in my thirties is feeling that I like myself (most of the time) then the best part of being someone I like is being a feminist.
I will not make this post into a paean of why I love feminism. I’ll post that some other time. I will say that, to me, feminism is the fight to end sexist oppression. It is for everyone and it benefits everyone. It is a profound act of love of both self and others.
Reader, I hate to shock you, but not everyone views feminism this way. Now, I’m not so naive. I know that feminism has a bad reputation in many circles. What I didn’t know, and have been shocked to learn recently, is that there are people in the world who will blame the fact that I disagree or am angry solely on the fact that I am a feminist.
It makes me want to scream:
Let me be as clear as I possibly can here: being a feminist means that I object to and seek to end sexist oppression. It’s not that oppression doesn’t happen on an individual-to-individual basis. It certainly can and does. However, if I see oppression happening on an individual-to-individual basis my response is not to get mad as-a-feminist. My response is to get mad as-a-person-who-cares-about-other-people. If I see person X being racist/sexist/classist/ableist/homophobic/terrible I get mad because person X is being an asshole and assholes are not my thing. I’m not mad as a feminist. I’m mad as a person.
As a feminist I get mad at structures such as the gender wage gap which is a sexist, racist piece of bullshit. As a feminist I get mad at the fact that many medical textbooks don’t include a woman’s body and tack on pregnancy like it’s an addendum to a man’s body. As a feminist I get mad that my insurance says it covers pregnancy the same “as any other illness.” As a feminist I get mad that the president of my university tried to close every Planned Parenthood in the damn state and gets praised for freezing fucking tuition when there is an AIDS crisis brought on by his actions.
As a person I get mad at the bus driver who helps the white single mother with her stroller but doesn’t help the black single mother with hers–because that’s being an asshole. As a person, if you call me condescending because you don’t think women should be assertive I’m mad because you’re being an asshole, but not because I’m a feminist. Of course, there’s a component about gender and sex equality in there but it’s not the main point. I won’t ask you to stop being sexist. I’ll ask you to stop being an asshole.
Similarly, if you’re made at me, unless you’re mad at me because you fundamentally disagree with the end of sexist oppression, then I expect you to be mad at me because I am being an asshole and not because I’m a feminist.