I don’t typically dedicate much of my writing on this blog to feminism. I enjoy reading the well thought out pieces that appear on The F-Word link-up each month and always leave me with little niggling thoughts (like Brita’s hilarious satire on married names and Kelly’s thoughts on sexist language), but they just never seemed to warrant a full post.
If I’m being completely honest, though, I think the lack of feminism on this blog has less to do with an inability to write thoughtfully on the subject and more with an insecurity regarding my own status as a feminist.
I’ve never felt like a “good enough” feminist.
I didn’t have some big “come to Jesus” moment about my feminism. In fact, the discovery was entirely an accident, and I balked at the term when it was first attributed to me. In AP European History, I chose Marge Piercy’s awesome novel City of Darkness, City of Light for our first book review of the term. It details the lives of three strong, working class women who significantly impact the French Revolution despite being considered secondary to their male counterparts. (If you haven’t read it, you should!) I obviously wrote a “I am woman, hear me roar” review for class, and from that moment on my professor assigned me all of the reading selections and historical events that revolved around women.
I didn’t take to the title like a duck to water. I can distinctly remember sitting at lunch one day during junior year, reading A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft and trying to craft my response to lead our class discussion, when a thought occurred to me: Coach Blackburn must think I’m a feminist. There was an edge to my voice when I said the word because at that point, I wasn’t considering feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” It wasn’t until a few weeks after my revelation that I realized how well the feminist shoe fit me and even into college for me to recognize how important it was to my identity.
However, I still had insecurities regarding my right to the title.
I don’t shout my feminism from the rooftops. • I didn’t keep my maiden name. • I worry about my future work-family balance and which I would choose if it came down to it. • I call people out on their sexism but tend to not push the issue. • I should really watch more women’s sports. • I hate the way women are portrayed in the media but go to the movies anyway. • I don’t do enough for feminism in my everyday life.
I didn’t feel like my little acts of feminism were enough to take on the big sexist world that we live in, so I stayed virtually silent about it on this blog, the place where I discuss all the bits of my life openly and honestly. But lately I’ve thought a lot about those little bits of life and the sexism that seems to pervade them Not the overt sexism — the wage gap, the lack of women in certain jobs, the education for women around the world — but subtle discrimination and the undertones of how women are still viewed by many in our society.
For me, one man’s words the other night at a baseball game made me realize that my feminism did matter, no matter how small it may seem. Imagine being hit in the foot by a baseball traveling at upwards of 90 mph. I don’t know about you, but I would probably need a few minutes before I got back up and started pitching again. So when one Pirates fan started heckling the poor guy, it irked me. As a disgruntled Braves fan, his lack of regard for the player was bad enough. When his cries changed from “Get off the field!” to “Pick up your purse and get gone, you pussy,” I was absolutely irate.
Oh how I wanted to say something to him. To get in his face. To see how he would react to a young woman calling him out on his prejudices. But I didn’t. I didn’t because he was old and drunk and had two friends with him who would probably have no qualms about taking their frustrations out on my husband in lieu of “hitting a girl.” I so wanted to, and I’ve gone back to that moment many times over the last week, wishing that I could’ve made him realize how his words were the opposite of okay. Dreaming up all of the things I could’ve said to him.
Instead, I’m saying something to you. I’m admitting that my insecurities have kept me from being an active part of the feminist dialogue in the blogosphere. Now that I realize how significant one little sexist comment can be, I’m going to strive to get rid of my second guessing and speak out when I feel like it, whether in a full blog post like this one or through something as simple as a Tweet. I’m done standing on the sidelines until I feel like I’ve earned the right to speak out. Because if subtle acts of sexism are as prevalent all over the country as they’ve been in my life lately, then my little acts of feminism certainly can’t do any harm.
My feminism is good enough.