Diaries Magazine

Why I Call Myself A Feminist (And You Should Too)

Posted on the 20 September 2014 by Jillofalltrades @JillDeTrabajos
Why I Call Myself A Feminist (And You Should Too)  ~From Jill of all Trades
Many of my readers know all about how I was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist cult.

Given that information, it's a pretty obvious conclusion that I used to be quite conservative.  In fact, since I grew up in a fairly progressive area (Portland, Oregon, hipster capitol of the USA), I was conservative enough to be the odd one out.

Portland World Naked Bike Ride

Not hard there.  This is a real picture from the world's largest annual World Naked Bike Ride.
Photo courtesy of marie-everydaymiracle.blogspot.com

I'm not kidding.

In high school I was the head of the bible study club, I was always the one asked to do the "opposing" opinion piece on the paper because I was the only conservative one on it, and I frequently got into arguments with my Theory of Knowledge teacher in which no one else in the class backed me up.
I also dressed strangely, like I still do, except it was awkwardly modest and old-fashioned.

Jill in high school

Yes, that is me.  *sigh*

I was fucking weird.
It would follow then that I was against abortion, against homosexuality, against sex outside of marriage, and--yes--against feminism.

Rush Limbaugh is a dick

And I STILL thought Rush Limbaugh was a dick.

These are not things I'm proud of.  
I know I was brainwashed from the day I was born, by my family and by everyone I knew.  
I know I was homeschooled the first half of my life and therefore had no exposure to other ways of thinking.  
I know I was just a kid, and I know I started to change my beliefs by the time I was 18.  
But I can't help but feel ashamed for all the people I judged or criticized, and for all the years I wasted on this bullshit that could have been used to make a difference.  I always meant the best, and thought I was helping people, but I truly wasn't, and I think it will take a while to forgive myself for that.
That said, I've obviously gone completely the opposite direction on all of these things.  
I have, over the years, shifted from old-fashioned and conservative to a blatant godless leftist vegan hippie with blue hair and tattoos who swears like a sailor (and married a sailor) and is outspoken and active for the rights of the oppressed and the common man/woman.

Jill the Riveter Feminist

This is how I imagine myself.

And now, I call myself a feminist.
I can remember clearly why I was so opposed to it.  I, like much of the conservative community, especially women and children, had been fed lies.  
I was told about the bra-burning, "bitchy," strife-ridden, hairy-legged feminist who hated men and babies and wanted women to have all the power.  

The Feminist Stereotype


I was told that feminists aren't following the word of God because God said that men and women are different and have different strengths and therefore different roles.  (Note: they always said "different" and not "unequal," but that's really what they meant.)
I believed that if I called myself a feminist, I would be aligning myself with a man-hating, God-hating, trouble-causing, bitchy, ugly movement.
I was so, so wrong.
Feminism is the belief that we are all equal, regardless of gender, and should be treated as such.  

Feminism Definition


I may not have believed that when I was a Christian (one more strike against you, Christianity), but now I believe that wholeheartedly, to an extent that I still shock myself when I remember there was a time when I didn't.   
I actually thought I was inferior to men.  
After all, the bible says so, and my church wasn't one to try to be P.C.  If the bible said it, they were like "well all right then. Sorry ladies, but fuck you."

God says fuck you to women everywhere

God was on board.

Feminists are not a personality type.  
They are not angry, they are not bitchy, they are not bearers of hairy legs, they are not bra-burners, they are not baby-haters or man-haters.  They are people.  Men, women, old, young, gay, straight, and everything in between.  My husband is a feminist.  I am a feminist.  My mother is a feminist.  My old A.P. European History teacher is a feminist.  Beyoncé is a feminist, and Patrick Stewart is a feminist.  
Some of us might be angry or have hairy legs or be averse to small children, but that does not and should not undermine our point.
Calling yourself a feminist is scary, because it's a lot easier to be accepted into an oppressive system if you appear to be going along with it.  
Calling yourself a feminist is saying "I think the system is bullshit."  It's standing up and declaring that women deserve more than they're getting (you know, like equal pay and the right to decide on our own medical care).   

wage gap women mothers

Not fucking okay.
Graphic courtesy of momsrising.org

Anytime you stand up for what is right, it is scary.
But it's also hugely important.  If you're a woman and you say "I'm not a feminist," you might as well say "I consider myself and all other humans in possession of similar genitalia inferior to you and others with your type of genitalia."  
It's twisted.  It undermines the movement.  It perpetuates a stereotype.
Don't be afraid.  Be strong.  
Be Strong
If you believe we are all created equal, then don't be afraid of what people will assume or attach to it when you call yourself a "feminist."  
You don't stop calling yourself a woman because people associate it with overreacting and being emotional, do you?  You don't stop calling yourself a man because people associate it with anger and violence.  You don't stop calling yourself an American because people assume you're fat and hate black people.
Be yourself, define yourself how you are, and do your research before you dismiss something.
I did.  And I'm glad I did.  
I'm ashamed when I see other women say "oh I'm not a feminist, I love men!" or some such bullshit because I know that was once me, and could have stayed me if I hadn't gotten out of the church.  

Jill in high school

I looked like a different goddamn person.

But I'm proud to stand up now and declare proudly that I am a feminist, even knowing that people will assume things about me for it.  

In fact, that sort of fuels me.  
It means it's even more important that I add to the feminist movement, so that we can slowly change people's perceptions.
I can make a difference, and so can you.  It all starts with admitting it. 
Some excellent feminist reading by Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple:
Do you consider yourself a feminist?  Share in the comments!

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