Recently, I’ve been met with this question a few times by others: “Why are you a feminist? Why do feminists think like they do?”
I can’t speak for others, but I identified with feminism long before I enrolled in a Women’s and Gender Studies class at MRU this past semester. I can clearly remember the days where I read feminism posts on Tumblr in high school, feeling empowered with the knowledge that there were other individuals out there who agreed with me.
But I’ve recently had to argue that, sometimes, it isn’t my inner feminist that is speaking, but it is merely just me. It just happens that many of my values are also shared by feminism. These values that I distinguish myself with, have been shaped my own personal experiences throughout my journey from childhood to adulthood. These are aspects that I try to live by, and that I try to look for in the people that I choose to include in my life.
- Don’t bully another for characteristics that they cannot control. It’s mean and I have no prior knowledge or indication that they may already be self-conscious of that characteristic. Or worse, my comments may make them self-conscious of that feature.
- Men and women should be free to wear any clothing of their choice without judgment, even if it breaks gender roles or socially constructed expectations
- Avoid comments that may trigger reminders in someone of rape, self-harm, or depression. It is jarring constantly hearing commentary about the one thing you are trying to forget. It is more jarring to hear that the element that currently plagues your life is used as everyday slang, as it normalizes the term itself. Thus, decreasing the importance of what you are experiencing.
- Anyone is free to love whomever they desire, and I have no right to dictate who they should love on the basis that their sexual orientation (or lack of one) is different from mine.
- Anyone is free to identify with whichever religion they choose. In my perspective, various religions have different methods of practice, beliefs, and regimes. In my opinion, despite the approach, most religions focus on having faith in a higher being (or several). All religions provide a framework for which its followers can see and interpret the world, and I don’t feel right judging someone based on the fact that they see the world differently than I do.
- Identifying as asexual is legitimate. Identifying as pansexual or bisexual is legitimate. Identifying as a transgender is legitimate.
I’ve realized that learning feminism on such an extensive level is extremely beneficial. It enflames a passion inside of me to want to contribute to changing society for the better. But I’ve also learned that my personal experiences are not shared by everyone.
Although I have good intentions behind the things that I preach and address, I am slowly realizing that, sometimes, people say things because it’s observation, because it’s what they’ve been taught, because they don’t share the same knowledge or because it’s what everyone else is doing.
Sometimes they don’t have negative intentions behind the words that they say, they simply just say it. Is it unfair to them for me to correct their perspective if they haven’t lived, or observed the same experiences that I have? Is it unfair for me to attack them, label them as a judger, when that was not their intention in the first place?
Sure, I can try to state what I believe in or how I interpret what they’ve said, but they won’t fully understand where I’m coming from unless they’ve experienced it themselves.
I’ve learned that it’s important to separate my heart from it all.