By Haley Gillette
I am, in fact, a woman.
Or, as they say in the medical community: I have an innie , not an outtie.
And, to top it all off, I am a feminist.
I swear I shave my legs!
I swear I shave my legs!
Now, for those of you that are still reading, let me explain why I am a feminist.
As, I explained in my last post, in case I didn’t make it apparent enough, I grew up in rural Texas. That’s right, not just Texas, but rural Texas – or “God’s great mistake,” as I like to call it. A simple land full of simple folk and their simple minds. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly had its charm. Like you could be missing most of your natural teeth and not a one would judge you. That’s solidarity. But it also had its drawbacks.
Being a liberal feminist here didn’t exactly make you popular.
In fact, I recall an actual conversation that took place at my high school with a girl friend of mine where, seemingly out of nowhere, she turns to the guy next to her and asks, “You know what I’m really tired of?” She then proceeded to turn towards me and continues, “Feminists.”
I then inquired why she would look directly into my visage as she said this (see, I was still playing my feminism on the DL. Not because of my lack of popularity, but because of my inherent fear of being lynched. I’ve had it since I was a small child).
The guy next to her then told me it’s because I was in fact one.
Guess that whole playing it cool thing didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped.
After I had gotten over this initial shock of having been found out, it sunk in what had just happened. A fellow FEMALE student, a young woman, told me she was “tired of feminists.”
What the hell was that about?
What did that even mean?
And why was she tired of us?
These questions have haunted me since I rode out of school on my pony, wearing my school uniform of leather chaps and mandatory cowboy hat. But now I see that she isn’t the only one.
Caitlin O’ Donnell of Drake University wrote a very insightful article about the stigma facing feminists in which she states that when her politics professor posed the question of whether or not women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, only 3 out of the 42 students raised their hands … in favor of it.
Let that just sink in for a sec …
How do you feel? Need a cookie or a hug?
I certainly do after that; that to me is just completely nonsensical. Why is that even a question and not just a foregone conclusion? Of fucking course we deserve equal representation! In fact, we deserve more representation!
I mean, what century are we living in exactly?
I didn’t realize Joan Cleaver was Secretary of State now and thinks it’s “indecent” to have women be represented in court, let alone even be in a court. “Egads! What will the neighbors think?!”
Of course, although still just a secretary (even of State), Joan probably wouldn’t even make it to that level seeing as women comprise a paltry 20 out of 100 senate members (being placed behind China, Rwanda and Iraq in women’s political representation).
What does that tell you about the state of affairs we find ourselves in?
We’re being out-done by one of the least socially progressive countries IN THE WORLD as far as women’s rights.
And apparently my small-minded friend from school wasn’t alone in her tiring of feminists. According to a recent survey done by the National Survey Institute of Surveys and Survey-Related Studies (ok, I don’t know the name of the company, but every time I see that a survey has been commissioned, I use this default company as the ones who are responsible), only 29% of women identify as feminists.
This, to me, is the most heart-breaking statistic of all.
For, as if it isn’t enough of a crime that women are not represented equally to everyone else’s standards, or even the small things like not being able to partake in certain activities/groups because of our gender, the fact that this world has made women feel, intrinsically, that we shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else and that feminists are just a bunch of bra-burning, screeching lesbians; that they don’t want to be “lumped in” with the rest of them …
I honestly just cannot comprehend why it isn’t universally wanted among every single woman to have the same rights as men. Cannot fathom.
I myself, just for the record, am not a lesbian, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nor, do I burn bras (have you seen how expensive those things are? We are still in a recession people.), nor am I constantly pontificating about feminism or “getting all up in people’s faces,” as they say … but nor am I blind to the fact that the world we live in today is not perfect.
Not even close actually.
It may don the appearances of one. Sure, we’re doing a lot better than most countries: no acid has been thrown on faces or clits being hacked off, as far as I know, but if you think that just because we don’t have these goings-on inundating the news that we’re ahead of the game, then I hate to inform you that you’re wrong.
Have you heard of the ads on Facebook promoting rape or abuse of women?
Or the two young women that I won’t name because I respect their rights, even in death, that were gang-raped by their fellow students while being filmed?
You probably won’t because those young ladies killed themselves after being labeled sluts and whores after that same video was shown to their school-mates, and their attackers haven’t been charged -- NOT WITH A SINGLE THING.
Or the young girl that was gang-raped, then they all peed on her, leaving her in someone’s backyard. Like a piece of garbage.
The ads on Facebook saying “don’t wrap it and tap it, tape it and rape it” most likely have been taken down since the article came out but they were there – among other ads by companies such as Maxim that had a picture of a woman digitally sliced into 2 halves then used as a promotional tool asking “which half do you prefer?” to its male foundation base. The responses varied from “the bottom half so I don’t have to hear her talk” to “the top half so she can make me a sandwich.” Even as jokes, these are just some of the comments women have to put up with on a pretty regular basis; maybe not to such an extreme level, sometimes with just more seemingly innocuous things like cat-calling or inappropriate compliments.
Almost on a regular basis, I or my female colleagues have to deal with men we wait on ( I am a server) that give us creepy compliments or say things like “that’s a good girl,” and we have to just take it in stride.
The alternative? Get a new job.
And I feel like men see this as “just making us feel pretty” or “brightening our day,” but who the fuck asked you to validate our existence?
I wasn’t aware that I need a man’s opinion of how pretty or “adorable” I am in order to feel good about myself.
Thank God someone told me how good I look in this dress today, I was starting to think that I should just live out the rest of my days as a shut-in with my many cats!
And God forbid I don’t return their praise with an awkward smile or a thank you, and then I’m just a bitch or, in the extreme, met with physical and hostile acts.
So, I guess if the world is “tired” of feminists, well then yes, I am tired too.
I am tired of hearing stories of girls I know telling me that they were date-raped at a bar and can’t tell anyone because they are afraid of being called a whore. I am tired of not being able to wear certain things because of unwanted attention that I may receive. I am tired of having to “remain vigilant” at all times and using my keys as a possible weapon when I walk anywhere by myself. And I am most especially tired of the eye-rolls I get from people when I tell them that I am a feminist.
I will never tire of fighting for my equality.