My favourite thing about sites such as WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook and all their counterparts is that they’re like their own little world. I mean, have you ever tried to explain what Tumblr is, to someone who doesn’t have one? Gets me in a sweat. But once you’re immersed in them, you know exactly how they work.
Feminism is kinda like that, although it’s way easier to explain than why that weird GIF is on your dash *shifts uncomfortably*. It’s like its own world in the sense that there is a definite community of fellow feminists that can be found on social media, if you just look for the misogynistic trolls. By reading the unfortunately truthful memes that the Feminist United Facebook page puts up, or the endless amount of think pieces here on WordPress, and engaging in the nuanced debates in the comment section with other feminists, it can be easy to forget that some people in the world, for some reason, doesn’t think the same.
It can be so easy to assume the everyone else has the same opinions as abortion as you, or that they also know that rape-culture is a thing that needs to be deconstructed. But, and it pains me to say so, not everyone thinks the same as me (even though they should). Feminism may have its space in social media, and through that, it ignites conversations that need to be had, but the conversations that are most had on social media about feminism, tend to be by feminists. We need to get those who, for some reason, do not agree, or have reservations, or maybe simply don’t understand involved, to make them understand.
I hope I’m not alone here. Sometimes I am confident, excited even, to let people know I’m a feminist and to have conversations about sexism, but to be honest, that mostly happens after some/a lot of vodka has been consumed. The majority of the time, I am afraid to engage in those discussions in public.
Feminists have this reputation of being angry. That they shout their beliefs at everyone, and are incapable of simply having a conversation. But imma get real here.
I think it’s the others that are angry, or maybe just as angry. They are the ones who get offended when I tell them my feminist views, or how the comments they make are sexist. They are angry because they don’t understand.
Take a look at the comments under this article. Look at how they label the author as the one in the wrong, how he is deluded to have seen something wrong in his friend’s comment. To have seen rape culture in action before his own very eyes. To have wanted to do his part in making the world not just a more female-friendly place, but just a friendlier place, where jokes about sexual assault do not fall from the lips so easily.
Look at the casual comparisons they make. Read the words they type, and see what they are saying between them. See how they laugh at the very notion of this article, imagine how they scoff and roll their eyes at another “one of those feminist type rants”. Understand how they don’t understand.
They are angry because they don’t understand. They haven’t had the veil lifted from their eyes, not just yet. They don’t see the world we live in, for how it is. They don’t see how a comment, a few words, a sentence that is almost forgotten as soon as it is uttered, is the very reason rape culture exists. They don’t see that they are the problem.
They get angry because they don’t want to understand. They don’t want to see that the world they know, is in fact not what they know. They don’t want to understand that their attitudes, what they believe in, are a problem. They don’t want to be wrong.
They get angry because it makes them angry. And uncomfortable. They see people like Donal O’Keeffe and Louise O’Neill, who tackle the world the way it is today. They try dismantle the highly detrimental society we live in today, in attempt to save new and up-coming generations from growing up with the same prejudices and misogynistic notions we did.
I have no problem saying that I didn’t come out the womb with my bra burning in my hand and an awareness of the gender pay gap. I wasn’t born a feminist.
I was born a baby. An innocent child, who was shaped by the attitudes and opinions of our society, that are so deeply ingrained, they are almost invisible. I grew up with images of girls with big breasts, short skirts and long legs. I aspired to be like that. Yet I knew the very thing I was encouraged to be and told that was the ideal, would be my downfall, and my fault. So I struggled with that balance, of trying to be “sexy”, but always, always, “a lady”.
I was born a baby. I grew up unknown to what was going on around me. I fell victim to the female traps set for us. I called girls I didn’t like sluts, because I was jealous of them. I acted stupider than I was because boys don’t like smart girls. I dreaded my boyfriend finding out I had glasses..
I was born a baby. I grew up a teenager, and became a feminist. I was not born a feminist. I became one, because I saw that I needed to. People are not born feminists, people become them, because the world needs them. We become feminists because of comments made in, and under, that article. I became a feminist because getting my ass groped in a club shouldn’t be an accepted thing. I became a feminist because I get yelled at and beeped at when I stand at my bus stop. I became a feminist because I had to.
We become feminists because of the anger we feel at the fact that rape is never the perpetrator’s fault. We take on the term “feminist”, because we are not encouraged to do the same subjects in school as the boys down the road. We are feminists because in my brother’s school they could do wood-work, but they could not study Home Economics. We become feminists because should we fall pregnant in Ireland in 2016, we have to fight against the State to reclaim our body and our life, even though they had nothing to do with the pregnancy.
“One is not born, but rather, becomes a woman”, wrote Simone de Beauvoir in 1949. And in 2016, one is not born a feminist, one becomes a feminist.
We become feminists, but we can hide this when we are with people, because of the fear of their anger to what they don’t see, and what they don’t understand. They are angry because we become feminists.