Feminism | Posted by Danielle B on 07/5/2010

Shh, Don’t Say the F-Word

I’m a feminist. Man, that feels good.

I’ve been a feminist all my life but didn’t realize it until a few weeks ago when I checked out a twenty-pound stack of books from the library (everything from Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism to Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs). Somewhere along the line something clicked; maybe it wasn’t as glamorous as the whole light-bulb-over-the-head charade, but it was pretty dang life-changing.

My name’s Danielle and I’m your typical high school student. Even though I suffer from over-achiever-itis my friends still know me as the nice, funny one. I believe in honesty, compassion (all of that philosophical mumbo-jumbo) and really try to be someone my parents and friends can be proud of. But sometimes even that feels like a revolutionary act when you’re drowning in a sea of teens who go around disrespecting everybody within a 5-mile radius.

I’ve never understood any of the ‘isms. You know what I’m talking about: racism, ageism, classism, sexism . . . anything that deems one group of people better than another. In my (some would say “twisted”) mind, people are just people. The last time I checked we all laugh, cry, feel, and bleed (unless you’re spurting some outlandish green liquid I don’t know about . . .?)

When I realized I was a feminist I thought “what do I do now”? I was honestly scared to tell anybody about my new “discovery” because I wasn’t sure how they’d react. The first person I told was my mom; she looked at me and said “I know that, silly. I’ve always known that.” What a gal! She knew one of my intimate secrets before I knew about it! Next came Grandma, which worried me a little. Not only is Grandma religious, she’s very outspoken. Her philosophy? “If you don’t like me, too bad.”

Me: “You know, Grandma . . . I’m a feminist.”

Her: “Well, yeah . . . I’ve always said that. I will never let a man control me.”

But why did I have to feel this way? Like I was unearthing a dirty secret? Why am I scared for the future, of what people will think of me? The fact is, today’s world is dangerous for teenagers like me (and you, if you’re reading this) because the “f-word” is marred by too many stereotypes to count.

Our latest assignment in English, for example, was to debate the topic “should women be treated differently than men?”. After several girls dropped the “f-bomb” one of my (male) classmates blurted out: “Feminism? Isn’t that where guys, like, put on girl clothes?”

You can’t see me, but I’m cringing! It seems like only a miniscule fraction of people know what feminism actually is, and the rest look at things through media-eyes, associating all feminists with radical, hairy, man-hating lesbians (I’m not putting down homosexuality, but you know the stereotype I’m talking about). In fact, my favorite quote comes from Pat Robertson, host of the religious variety show The 700 Club: “[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

In the words of my 8th grade English teacher: Really, Pat? Really? If this is the crap I’m going to have to deal with, looks like I’m going to have to grow some thicker skin ASAP.

All pig-headed, right-wing nutjobs aside, I am absolutely in love with feminism. To me, it’s not so much a philosophy as it is incredible people standing up for the rights we, as humans, inherently deserve. And if feminists are simply those who believe in “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” wouldn’t that make most people feminists (even if they don’t like the label)? That’s a reassuring thought.

So I wanted to write a blog about something I actually understand. I’m not an award-winning physicist or world-renowned psychologist (yet!), but what I do understand is the stuff swishing around in my noggin. I want to write about life from my perspective – a feminist teen just trying to make sense of the world – and hopefully appeal to others who feel the same way (but who haven’t necessarily found their “feminist outlet”).

In the end, I decided to call this blog Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist:

Experimentations referring to the fact that life is one big experiment. We do what we think is right, hope for the best, get knocked on our behinds most of the time, but inevitably pick ourselves back up. Ah, life.

Teenage referring to the fact that I am technically (i.e. biologically) still a kid. So if I make mistakes, complain, or go a little over-board in my rants, blame it on my age. I don’t have to go all “Yoda” until I’m at least twenty.

Finally, Feminist referring to the fact that I’ve finally found my niche. I was born to be one of those “annoying” girls who stands up for what she believes in. I was born to help other girls realize their potential, gain confidence, and ultimately love themselves. And I was born to (please prepare yourself for the corniest statement of the century) make the world a better place.

You can check out “Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist” here

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  • D. Swory @ at 2:47 pm, July 5th, 2010

    Great site:) I agree and admire your courage. Keep up the great work.
    Feminism is NOT a dirty word :) The world needs to understand that just because a woman stands up for herself and other women, it is not a BAD thing.
    As in any group of people there are always those that can give a group a bad name or impression. I am glad you are a wonderful example out here on the net, setting things straight. Feminists are NOT MAN HATERS, Thanks for setting some people straight!

  • trade show videos @ at 5:33 pm, July 5th, 2010

    Yes, I agree with what you say, but only partially. Regardless, it’s all good reading. Well done!

  • SarahF @ at 6:42 pm, July 5th, 2010

    I think we are quite possibly the same person. It’s good to know I am not alone in this world. Yay for teenage feminists!!!

  • Zoe Y. @ at 7:16 pm, July 5th, 2010

    How I’ve handled letting others know that I’m a feminist is usually by just talking about the feminist issues that I think are important. Eventually, they catch on and ask “Wait, are you a feminist?” And I say “Yes I am” and just stare at them. I am not the ugly stereotype that the public knows and if they just remember that I have always been this way, then they should know that the stereotype isn’t true.

  • SarahC @ at 12:10 am, July 6th, 2010

    I like your stories of “coming out” as a feminist, primarily because mine were very similar. My mother had always known, since I was very young and immediately gave Barbie a mud bath in the sandbox before forgetting about he existence. As such, she was understandably confused, and didn’t quite get why I was telling her this. after getting than reaction from a few more people, I had to give up. But I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in this experience!

  • Mollie @ at 5:40 am, July 6th, 2010

    Congratulations on “coming out”, it’s a wonderful sort of revelation to have!

    Also a teenage feminist, I had always erred on the side of feminism before I really knew the ins and outs of it, what it was really about and I had always thought there was something… wrong with the way women always have been, and still get treated, and the various displays of inequality in society.

    Feminism is still somewhat a ‘dirty word’ with people in my age group, especially because most people, women included, are nuts about making “gb2kitchen” jokes and the like, mostly to fit in. It never sat right with me, hating on any particular group in supposed jest.

    Although I’m in a community polite enough not to hate on me or act surprised for expressing my views… to my face, anyway.

    Just don’t get me started on women who say “I’m not a feminist, but…
    ” Oh yes you are, get over yourself and attach that stereotype-ridden label proudly to your forehead. Kindly.

  • Valerie B. @ at 12:13 pm, July 7th, 2010

    “Ohhhhh, you’re a FEM.IN.IST?” (random classmate walks backwards slowly and carefully, for I am a scary Feminist. Fear my liberalness.)
    Goodness, I can relate. Why do people close to me and in my community think Feminism’s a dirty word, yet they’ll toss around ‘thats sooo gay’ and ‘youre retarded!’ like theyre nothing. Hm. Most be one of ‘em Southern thangs.

  • Malyssa @ at 1:05 am, July 11th, 2010

    Whooo!!!! Let’s all have a BBQ and talk feminist things! <3

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