Feminism | Posted by Anna R on 11/2/2010

Young Feminism: The Fire Inside Me

In fourth grade I had my first dose of feminism. I had read an article in a local feminist magazine that spoke of the expected roles and stereotypes of a modern female. The issues they were talking about bothered me. I could feel it.

In my elementary years I attended a Catholic school and was well aware of the male dominance in the church. So when I was nine I said that I wanted to be a priest. I spoke to my teacher about this. At first she sort of dismissed it as a silly wish of a fourth grader. But when I asked her why I just couldn’t do it like any other boy could she just sighed and shook her head. She didn’t know.

I now realize that I didn’t actually at all aspire to become a priest. (Even this early my religion had made me sick with its programed thoughts and constant male superiority, but that’s another story.) It was actually the feminist fire being lit inside of me. In fifth grade that fire continued to grow. My teacher assigned two friends and myself to a history project about women’s rights. I could tell that my partners didn’t admire the women who fought and spoke out for our rights as much as I did. I enveloped myself in the project, doing most of the work, unnecessary research, and staying up late reading books and articles about great feminists in history. When we presented the project I spoke my words with enthusiasm and true belief in them. It made me feel strong and good to be a girl.

Today, I am in sixth grade. The fire inside of me is burning more intensely than ever and it’s growing and changing everyday. I see things that make me mad and upset me. All the time fellow classmates wow me with their non-existentant opinions on things that I have been thinking strongly about for years. It scares me to think that these are the kind of views that have been constructed. I’m afraid to show people my true colors because of discrimination and stereotypes. I’ve only legitimately told one person about my being a feminist. I just don’t want to and can’t deal with being assumed a lesbian, man-hater, etc. because middle school is hell anyway. Their opinions (the ones that haven’t fully developed into their own honest-to-goodness beliefs) are to reject the different. That’s the way it is with people in general, and why there are these issues.

I don’t want to hear how wrong or weird they think I might be, and that’s why I feel obligated to keep my views to myself. I don’t want to have to be ashamed of being a feminist. The truth is I’m afraid to be put into a distorted category of what it “means.” I hide my journals. I only visit feminist blogs and websites late into the night. I cry and mourn for the rape victims that are blamed and attacked only alone. I only scream at the world for the sexualization of females privately. And I only speak out anonymously. It pains me to see the world encased in the unrealistic belief that women and girls are limited. You can’t sit around and accept it. You’ve got to woman up and change the future by inspiring feminism in younger people. I can see the effects the rules and their exceptions for the men paving roads in the minds of children. Today I’ve decided to refuse to be judged by my body parts and show people who I really am and build the feminism fire. And that is exactly what I plan on doing.

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  • Sue @ at 11:32 am, November 2nd, 2010

    I was so shocked when you said you were in 6th grade! You write like a college student. You are also light years ahead of where I was in 6th grade…I was totally delusional and stressed out by beauty standards. I was using Nair to remove any body hair at all, I wore loads of makeup, and bleached my hair white-blonde. It wasn’t until I found feminism that I realized that I was ALLOWED to be myself, and that wasn’t until college.

    I hope that feminism continues to reach younger generations. Inspire young women around you and keep up the awesome work!

  • Zoe @ at 1:19 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    You do write very well for 6th grade.

    And unfortunately, it might be easier to continue keeping quiet about being a feminist, at least through middle school. I didn’t realize I was a feminist until college so I had no real issues of coming out to friends about it. I can’t imagine being open about it in my middle and highs school. Kids were ridiculously ignorant and rude. It’s almost easiest to just stay quiet about it.

    Then again, it’s always easier to push feminist ideas without the label. If you talk to your girlfriends about how women are paid less then men, I’d think most of them would agree somethings wrong with that! People only get turned off once you mention “feminism” which is a real shame.

  • Sophie @ at 1:31 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    First of all, its actually insulting to say that someone writes better than you expected of their age. It implies that you expected a 6th grader to write badly, when actually middle schoolers are a lot more mature than we get given credit for.

    Second of all, I’m in 8th grade and feel the same way. My friends know that I’m a feminist, but barely anyone else. I still feel the societal pressure to have a boyfriend (which I’ve never had)and so I feel, despite myself, that if I really voice all my opinions I won’t be liked. So I understand what you’re saying.

  • Sue @ at 4:22 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    I’m sorry if I offended anyone by saying you were a good writer. I simply meant that you wrote better than most of the people at my university.

    I don’t think middle schoolers are stupid, but when I was that age my friends and I didn’t even know what feminism was, let alone how to create a dialogue about it. Many of my peers are just learning many of these concepts at 21. I was comparing you only to my experiences at that age; I wasn’t trying to make a statement about all middle schoolers. Sorry.

  • Hannah @ at 4:41 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    I’m in 7th grade and I’ve been a feminist pretty much since birth (born to feminist parents), but I only realized it strongly when I found this blog. Since I found this blog I’ve become much more outgoing and strong spoken, and MUCH more self-confident. At my middle school, outside of my friends (who I have converted to feminism), nobody knows what it is. They think it means ‘feminine’. (I once wore my ‘got feminism?’ t-shirt and I had someone point to an supposedly feminine looking guy and said “Your shirt describes him.” to which I gave him the DEATH GLARE.) I actually have girls in my class that act dumb and one that actually raises her voice tone to above her natural voice to sound more feminine.
    I totally can sympathize with what you’re saying.

  • Seth @ at 4:46 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    Women don’t get paid less for the same job they make less as a whole of the workforce. It’s called the Raw Wage Gap.

    There are many reasons for this, hours worked etc, choice of occupation etc.

  • Jarrah @ at 4:56 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    Wow. What a great, well-written article. It can definitely be hard to take the pressure to be apolitical/anti-feminist when you’re in high school. Thanks for sharing your message, being courageous, and showing everyone that there are great young feminists out there.

  • Natalia @ at 6:17 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    @Sophie

    How is this insulting? She should be flattered at all the compliments. I didn’t know much about feminism in grade six and I did not write at that level (I don’t think I even knew what punctuation was). And I’m not saying that elementary students are stupid, it’s just that you don’t really learn much about essay writing skills in elementary. So it is so impressive to see it in a 6th grader.

  • A @ at 6:54 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    You are extremely eloquent and articulate, especially for your age, but also for basically everyone. I was a very outspoken feminist in middle school (I’m in high school now) but it was tough… I wish we had gone to the same school!!! You (and any other middle school feminists) should definitely check out newmoongirls.com (no affiliation to the Twilight series). It targets middle school-aged feminists and is a fantastic community.

  • scary joann @ at 7:19 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    First of all, you are an amazing writer and impressively articulate. The way you write now is amazing, I hope you continue and consider writing for more sites and publications in the future. I’m picky as hell about writing, and I want to read more by you. Contact me please if you have any other pieces available on the internet I can look at.
    Also, being the lone feminist at school is lonely and frustrating and I’m sorry. It sucks. Coming out as a feminist may label you a lesbian, manhater, and all around strong minded oddball, and it may make you stigmatized. But it could connect you with others of like minds and may make people around you curious enough to look into feminism themselves. In one way being weird makes you lonely, in another way it could open a whole new community.
    I found that what helped most in middle school was having support of varying ages outside my own peer group. It’s always helpful to have someone you respect tell you that things do get better.

  • Anna Rose R. @ at 7:38 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    @ Sue- I just want to let you know I wasn’t offended by your comment…I see it as a wonderful compliment.

    @A Thank you; I will be checking that out.

    Thank you to everyone for your advice and compliments. I’m not always very confident about my works but your support has helped me out.

  • Anna Rose R. @ at 10:47 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    @scary joann- I don’t have any other pieces on the internet, but you can be sure that I will be posting on the fbomb soon and plenty.

  • Nano (Nyxie) @ at 10:48 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    I feel ya! I was just like this in 6th grade, shocked by my fellow classmates. How come these things didn’t matter to them?! How didn’t they know these things?!

    I’m 17 and in 12th grade, now. I wish I could tell you it gets better, but…it doesn’t. Still just as unaware of the patriarchy around them.

    Talk to girls around you, challenge them. It can be simple questions – if someone says you can’t do something because you’re not a boy, ask why being a girl makes a difference. If someone tells you to do something because you’re a girl, ask them why boys don’t have to. And keep asking why – making them think of their answers can help them, and you, change your viewpoints and fight back against patriarchal social programming.

    You are very eloquent for a 6th grader (and I know how tough that can be at a young age – I was teased all the time for talking too fancy, but luckily I had friends who liked a smart friend :D ). Good luck, and don’t let anyone put that fire out!

  • Umbra @ at 11:01 pm, November 2nd, 2010

    Awesome righting, hang in there. Don,t give up. Talk to your friends and teachers. You can,t do this alone.

  • firefly @ at 12:31 am, November 3rd, 2010

    Good job! Keep going for what you believe in. I’m glad, because you are young and smart and thoughtful, and I hope you will NEVER let anyone control what you think, or make you feel bad about being a feminist.

    I’m in high school now, and it’s different. People sort of dismiss me, or notice me in the wrong ways. When I defend my views, there is always a bit of backlash-and when I notice someone saying saying something offensive, I hesitate to speak up. But it is worth it if you do.

  • A @ at 8:25 pm, November 3rd, 2010

    @ firefly- I agree. In high school sometimes it’s tough to know Ida debate with certain people is even worth it.

  • Thursday Thought: Young Feminism « Gender Focus @ at 7:48 pm, November 4th, 2010

    [...] 4, 2010 Here’s an excerpt from the most inspiring blog post I’ve read this week, “The Fire Inside Me” at F-Bomb: Today, I am in sixth grade. The fire inside of me is burning more intensely than ever and it’s [...]

  • A @ at 3:19 pm, November 8th, 2010

    In high school, a lot of people will automatically assume that i’m lesbian or a man-hater and that’s what hurts the most. It’s the fact that people; even my friends, stereotype me for my beliefs. I hate the fact that there is just a general misconception of feminists

  • Natalia @ at 9:51 pm, November 11th, 2010

    I’m 20 and in my third year of university and it still doesn’t get better. People (especially women) don’t get the “point” in feminism

  • » How I Became a Feminist Gender Focus @ at 6:48 pm, November 17th, 2010

    [...] some personal accounts of how people became feminists, including  “The Fire Inside Me” by a grade 6 girl on the F-Bomb blog, which I linked to earlier this week, made me realize I’ve never written here about how I [...]

  • Zei @ at 11:00 am, February 4th, 2011

    Wow. I think you got it under your belt pretty dang good! I wish I had been as insightful when I was a 6th grader. We definitely need more youth who are strong in their convictions, like I belief you are. Just don’t be afraid to show who you really are..be yourself..as cliche as that sounds. I understand, middle school is quite harsh, but it will pass eventually.

  • Mara @ at 11:56 pm, February 22nd, 2011

    wow, you write amazingly well for a sixth grader! I assumed you were writing this from your senior year in high school, or maybe college!
    If only more middle schoolers were like you…
    Keep on rocking on!

  • Maya @ at 9:31 pm, January 10th, 2013

    I’m a 13 soon to be 14 year old feminist as myself. In 6th grade I was awear of what feminism was but I was no where near where you are! I had always been told that Feminist were rude man hating woman as most people precive them. I’ve been open about my feminism because I tend to rant about it alot. Most of my teachers are actually awear of it and so are many of my class mates. I wasn’t awear that people were made fun of because of feminist views at your age. I was fully emerged in feminism by the time I was in 7th grade and no one really seemed to care. I’ve had a few bumps along the way by some people who had the thoughts burned into there heads that we’re all smelly, hairy legged lesbians that spend there time yelling at men. But it didn’t phase me! Your a pretty awesome keep rockin’ it!

  • Mary Rose @ at 8:19 pm, March 24th, 2013

    I’m also in 6th grade and this really hits home for me. My friends and family don’t really think about feminism and I feel like they mindlessly conform to stereotypes. I want to teach my younger sisters to love themselves but they are worrying about being fat or ugly.

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