The first time I remember properly classifying myself as a feminist was during a sociology seminar in my first year of university. You might be thinking this is incredibly late, which I suppose it is. However, while I may not have attached the label to my identity until then, I have always been what I’d deem a ‘feminist in progress’ or an ‘unknowing feminist’ and I work on it every day and I try to be better for myself and for the movement.
Feminism is defined in simple terms as the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. This definition can be extended and elaborated on in that the movement simply aims for equality of all people, regardless of gender identification, physical sex or binary.
In the time I’ve spent reflecting on feminism and the label I have assigned myself, my views have altered and adapted. When I first announced that I thought of myself as a feminist, as well as feeling liberated, uplifted and exuberant, I felt nerves. My naive and relatively uneducated self had always considered feminism to be something for highly intelligent, academic women who could form an argument, exuded power and strength and who broke the glass ceiling every day. Emma Watson, for example. Maya Angelou. Caitlin Moran. Germaine Greer. Michelle Obama. All the amazing women. They were feminists who had DONE STUFF. They understood the word, wore the word, added meaning to it, plastered it over Twitter bios and YouTube videos. I doubted myself in many ways…was I really a feminist, or just someone who observed and supported the feminist movement from the sidelines, waving a flag or some witty and punny sign that showed my dedication and respect without having anything relevant to add or contribute? I wasn’t sure what to classify myself as or what I could add to the discussion. Did I qualify? Was I too privileged? What was the deal?
After study, reading and learning a little about what was going on, I realised that the questions I was asking myself were redundant. The very idea of feminism is, like I said, equality for all. It is a universal struggle of all people and all women, arguing for equal respect and treatment of all. Intelligence, poignancy and eloquence, or indeed ‘qualifying’ don’t come into it even slightly. The way I see it according to those ideologies, is that if you believe in any of the above, you couldn’t possibly be anything OTHER than a feminist. Feminism is for everyone and anyone. Anyone who has a vagina, anyone who doesn’t. Anyone who identifies as female, anyone who doesn’t. Feminism was for me. A way for me to congregate under a collective title with all other supporters of equal rights, in an attempt to not just smash the glass ceiling, but completely and utterly annihilate it.
Feminism to me is something I am extremely proud to classify myself under. While I wish it didn’t need to exist, there is a need for it and therefore I want to be involved. I haven’t figured out exactly how yet, but for now these blog posts will give me a chance to voice my thoughts. They may not be overly poignant or groundbreaking and will probably have been voiced by people before me, but I am in on a discussion and I like it.