Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 06/2/2010
My Click Moment
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.
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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