Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 06/2/2010

My Click Moment

lightbulb = feminism

lightbulb = feminism

While I haven’t read the actual “Click” book yet, reading Nellie’s essay and the concept of the book as a whole really got me thinking about my own click moment – about when I knew I was a feminist.

I had always thought that feminism was a gradual progression for me. In eighth grade, my entire grade had to research a topic of our choice and then deliver a speech to the entire middle school about it. I chose to research female feticide after reading an article about the practice (ironically) in Glamour magazine.

Up until that point, I had basic knowledge of what feminism was. But I think I had looked around at my privileged world and thought, “Well…I don’t know…men and women basically appear equal. Feminism must be over.” It was when I realized that atrocities like sex-selective abortions on a massive scale – over 50 million women are estimated to be “missing” – were occurring that I really opened my eyes. What shocked me even more was that the media would devote a 5 minute news story to why Julia Roberts doesn’t eat cheese but the idea of reporting THIS was out of the question.

After that speech, I began to research feminism and women’s rights more and eventually read Full Frontal Feminism, found feministing and entered the world of of feminist blogging.

But I’m not sure that any of that constitutes a “click” moment. No, I think I’d have to revisit those absolutely wonderful middle school years to get to the bottom of that moment.

Here is the ugly truth about my life: in middle school, I was popular. That doesn’t sound so bad – what’s wrong with being liked? No, the thing that truly sucked about my “popularity” was that I basically didn’t have an identity.

Every day I would get up, squeeze myself into clothes with labels like “Abercrombie” that basically cut off my circulation, straighten my hair, have a 5 minute break down about why I wasn’t skinnier/prettier/[insert media approved adjective here], and not eat breakfast because I was on a diet. Then I would go to school and try to make people like me, while all the while terrified that they didn’t.

And at the same time that that was happening, I was reading books like Full Frontal Feminism, learning about  global women’s rights and writing feisty comments on feminist blogs. I agreed with everything feminism was teaching me, and wanted to be as strong and independent on the outside as I truly felt on the inside. But I couldn’t let anybody see this side of me, because then they may not like me. Even when I was exposed to feminism and agreed with it, the world around me intimidated me too much to initially actualize it.

Eventually, I got tired of being two different people. I knew that I had friends that would love me even if my personality was “weird” (as in, I thought about stuff that matters) and maybe losing “popularity” would be worth it. In the end, I looked at the two lives I was living. One made me really tired, forced me to try too hard for nothing, and ultimately made me unhappy because I would leave interactions with my “friends” not knowing who the hell I was. The other incited passion within me, made me happy, and made me feel like I could be comfortable in my own skin. Once I let go of caring about how other people perceived me (which obviously wasn’t so easy) the choice actually turned out to be a no-brainer.

I can’t pinpoint a moment, let alone a day, week or month, but I eventually “clicked” sometime near the end of my freshman year of high school. I wasn’t afraid of being a feminist, and I wasn’t afraid to tell people that I was. And I’ve been happy with myself and my life ever since.

I’d love to hear about all of your click moments in the comments! I think our click moments say a lot about who we are as feminists and what we’ve had to overcome to get to this point.

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  • Maren H @ at 6:28 pm, June 2nd, 2010

    I had a very similar experience actually. I first discovered feminism a few months after I was sexuality assaulted for support and as a way to feel empowered again. Once I started reading and being more aware of discrimination not only in my own life, but the media, I knew I’d be a feminist for life. I learned to take my anger out in a healthy way, but it remained (and still does to a certain extent) on the internet and in books.

  • Tessa @ at 10:23 pm, June 2nd, 2010

    I became a feminist when I stumbled upon “feministing.com” in ninth grade. I was typing some words into google (I think it was “Eleanor Roosevelt” and “human rights”) for a research paper I had to do about women throughout history, and I saw feministing appear as one of the choices. I clicked on it and started reading some of the stuff. I read the posts and thought that they were so interesting! I didn’t even know there was such a site about feminism, and I didn’t even know what the heck feminisim was until I found that site. I honestly thought feminists were man-haters who complained about everything and everyone. Sadly, that’s how society portrays us. I thought men and women were completely equal until I read some of the stuff on feministing. It really opened my eyes to some of the atrocious shit that women have to deal with because of their gender. But my “click” moment was definitely feministing.com, and I check it every day religiously!

  • U-Jean @ at 10:42 am, June 3rd, 2010

    I sort of became a feminist when I refused to do any household chores and insisted that my younger brother play the same role in sweeping and moping the house. I come from an Asian background where it’s normal to expect the girls in the house to do the household chores when they reach a certain age especially when you don’t have domestic help around the house.

  • Katherine C. @ at 10:34 pm, June 3rd, 2010

    I am lucky enough to have had feminism in my family for three generations. My grandmother, a registered OB/GYN nurse, campaigned for the rights of pregnant women and for abortion rights in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. My mother, her daughter, campaigned again for legal abortion and also for birth control rights, equal pay, equal right of expression, and most especially (once she had three daughters in school) for gender equality in public education, particularly in the sciences and maths.
    So feminism- even the actual word- has always been as natural for me as other family traditions, like singing in the evening all together in the dark, ice-cream-sundaes for good report cards, and going to church. But if I had to pinpoint a “click!” moment for when feminism became really personal to me, it was when a male classmate of mine made a rape joke in class- and the teacher laughed. When I protested, it meant I had no sense of humor. I realized profoundly for the first time how freaking gender-skewed the world is, and from then on (this was around 7th grade) I started checking feminist blogs and made sure that everyone knew that I was proud to be a FEMINIST.

  • KS @ at 12:29 pm, June 4th, 2010

    My mother led me to my “click” moment. I don’t have a single defining moment but when my family moved from Korea to the US, my parents began having frequent fights. Most of them had to do with the change in gender roles they observed: my mom’s inability to speak English led to my dad’s grocery shopping, to list one example. The frequency of my mom telling to get a good job because it’s harder for women to be independent increased; my mom forcing my younger brother to do the dishes (he had never done that in Korea) happened more often; and she began to “talk back” to my dad a lot. Gradually, I began to pay attention to gender roles in the media, especially through films, and now, I’ve reached the state where I can’t get it off my mind. And that’s how I became a proud feminist that I am today.

    KS

  • stephen @ at 10:41 am, June 5th, 2010

    Wheres the problem with this so called female-feticide? According to you feminists an unborn child is nothing more than a pile of cells that you can remove like a tumor at will.

  • Emily @ at 7:30 pm, June 23rd, 2010

    I remember mine: I was playing at a friend’s house when her mom was listening to the radio about the results of the Presidential election – It was the year that Perot was running, so 92, so I must have been four or five. Anyways, my friend’s mom started talking about Presidents and I asked why there weren’t any female ones, and she said “Because the Bible says that women shouldn’t be in authority over men.” Although I generally accepted what I was taught in Sunday school or church, I immediately thought “Well, that’s dumb! That rule must’ve been invented by men.” Obviously, I was too young to know what the words “feminism” meant, but I knew the “men are better!” thing was a pile of crap.

    A few years later, the same church was giving minor roles in church services to boys who were two years younger than me and developmentally disabled men, but refusing to allow females of any age or mental capacity to participate. That’s when it hit me that these men thought that simply having boy parts made them SO superior when that was really the ONLY difference, but I decided that it was complete bullshit. However, I was still bombarded by propaganda that described feminists as man-hating, family-destroying lesbians, so I avoided that label until I was in college.

  • Danielle @ at 12:59 am, June 30th, 2010

    I’ve never really had a defining “click” moment. I think I was born a feminist (and humanist)but never had the right words to describe myself until recently. Discrimination (whether it be against genders, races, social classes, ages, religions, abilities, etc.) just doesn’t register with me. I find it absolutely appalling that some people can look down on others for what seems like no reason at all. I can’t even imagine having those types of hate-filled feelings.

    But I would have to say that my time in high school has been my “flowering” period. I’ve changed so much in the past couple of years – I’ve gained confidence, a voice – and feminism has become my core belief system.

    Because when I started doing the research (like you guys, reading Full Frontal Feminism) identifying with the feminist label was a no-brainer. Everything it stands for – equality, self-respect, confidence, hardwork, advocacy – are the morals I had already been trying to live by!

  • Victoria @ at 10:19 pm, June 30th, 2010

    I read the book! It was actually pretty enjoyable, and had me thinking about it myself.

    I think I’ve actually been a feminist for a while, but was always uncomfortable admitting it until one day in English this year. I think we were reading Invisible Man and discussing the role of women in the work. Now I was always the one to take the “why aren’t there any well developed female characters in this book?” stance, always with that feminist lens, whether or not I’d admit it. Anyway, one girl made a comment how she’s “not a feminist or anything”, shooting me a sharp look, and then made a comment about how the women were in fact treated pretty negatively in the book. The next girl said, and I quote “Yeah, I hate feminism too but…” and made some strange comment. Something inside me snapped. I don’t remember exactly what I said when I was called on, but I’m pretty sue I admitted that I was a feminist and not ashamed of this in any way, nor did I think it was something to be ashamed of. There were probably snickers, but I didn’t care. It still baffles me that any woman could say that.

  • Anna Rose R. @ at 2:13 am, October 30th, 2010

    Wow. the thing is i know exactly what you mean. I feel like I’m living like two different people. Feminist-determined-strong-me and Eleven-year-old-girl-without-a-care-in-the-word-me.
    recently someone tried to put words in my mouth when i said that i wanted to help women throughout the world who have been abused or raped. this kid (who obviously was influenced by his parents’ ‘opinions’, saying that he hated the government, while he probably couldn’t understand less about it) told me, no you want to help the men too. I felt like screaming-obviously i’m talking about places where its passed over to rape. and i’ll help whoever i need to.

  • Tess @ at 6:53 am, February 16th, 2011

    I can’t remember a specific click moment, but what I do know is that I’m a feminist for sure and I will always be without a doubt. What pisses me off so much is how people say “YOU are a feminist?!” which I hate so much, or when people try to make snide comments after I say something and say “Oh she’s just a feminist” bloody hell!

    Once in English class, we were discussing feminism and language and I made it blatant that I was a feminist, said it and announced it proudly and I put my points across too and I had agreements from people. At one cloudy moment, when I was cloudy brained the teacher said something like “You do realise that this is because of your youth” I didn’t really understand what she meant was “You are really this politically active because you’re a teenager that this is part of your youth rage or whatever” I just blindly, deafly and dumbly said “Umm yeah” because I don’t think I really understood what she meant and she said “But there’s nothing wrong with that” I went home, re-interpreted everything in my head, and I felt like bursting, literally! God! I’m really in it forever! Why couldn’t she understand that?! God, I’m pissed off.

    P.S To anyone who reads this comment and will submit one of their own, please give me an idea on how to let go of this!

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