Swag. Source: lookbook
It has taken me just over a year to begin feeling comfortable with calling myself a feminist, with putting it on my site, even.
Here’s how you can, too!
Try telling your friends and people who support you
It’s funny to me as I meet new friends and they gasp (maybe not quite gasp), but as they wonder at how I could be so bold as to say that I am. I used to wonder if I could be so bold, also, but now, it’s really become easy, old hat.
My newest friend asked me if I get a lot of negative reactions, and the answer is honestly, no. I do see negative reactions to feminist videos, to anything that might resemble a woman standing up for her rights or talking about other women as if they had rights (audacious, I know!) but I personally have never had anything close to abuse or negativity about my views. (Touch wood!)
Talk with other feminists
Being in a group where you know there will be no retribution and will support your views is always a good thing. A lot of the people I follow on twitter I know are feminists or supporters of feminism (if they’ve not quite got there yet!)
Perhaps this is because I am always networking with those of like-minded thoughts.
I don’t get into comment fights if I can avoid it, and any comments I make are only for what I believe is a positive step for feminism – I express my enthusiasm, and it’s very difficult to argue with someone who has not even given an opinion, only expressed a feeling of joy that equality is that little bit closer for all women.
Express your feelings, not your opinions
This is not to say that voicing your opinion is not a good idea, it’s simply for those that don’t want to get in a fight about what they intrinsically believe – and why should they if they don’t have to? The idea is to stand up for what we believe in, not to bring others down who don’t believe in it.
Empathise with those who don’t believe what you believe
When some people say why you should shut up or shouldn’t call yourself a feminist specifically it can be hard to hear, if that’s what you identify as. But empathising with those statements, i.e. seeing the feelings and needs behind them can allow you to accept any differences of opinion. We’re allowed to disagree.
Plus, a bonus of this is people expect a dehumanising argument sent back their way. If you instead try to connect with their statement, it will at least confuse them, and at best, help both parties to feel heard and understood.
Know that you don’t have to use ‘the word’
Some people just don’t like the word ‘feminist’ I’m not sure why, and I will be writing a post on that topic next, because when it comes to it, it simply means wanting women to have basic human rights and equality.
But, just because I use the word for myself, doesn’t mean YOU have to. -Who cares?! A word is a word, and it’s my own right to identify as any identity I want to, and it is yours, too.
And if you do like the idea of equality, you might come to call yourself a feminist just to yourself, as I did, at first. It’s not like I go around with an ‘I am a feminist’ t-shirt on all day. I don’t talk about it all day long to complete strangers – it’s just a part of who I am – what I believe in – and why I write these posts in my attempt to empower myself and other women.
You don’t have to give up lipstick
Or make-up. Or hair products. Or being girly. Or manly. You don’t have to be angry all the time. Or give up having fun. Or laughing. Or having sex. Or not having sex.
It’s just about equal rights… Not about hating.
Shout it out
As Caitlin Moran suggests, try standing on a chair and yelling out words like ‘feminist’ and ‘environment’ until they become as natural as saying chocolate or macadamia nuts. (bonus points if you got the Eat, Prey, Love reference)
Use a disclaimer
The first post I ever wrote on this blog was about how not all feminists are dungarees-wearing, bra-burning, hairy-arm-pitted lesbians. I explained who I was, how I am JUST interested in equality for women.
Remember, it’s not your responsibility how other people react to you
This is simply that a friend of mine told me maybe the word feminist isn’t so good’er idea to use the actual word. It might offend some people. But that’s because they don’t know who I am, and they don’t know what I’m about. And they have their own stuff going on.
And that’s ok, but it’s not my responsibility to help them out. I might want to. I might want to clear some things up. To use a disclaimer. In that case, I would. But I am what I am as they say, so I’m not about to go around apologising all the time if they can’t believe me, the same way they don’t need to for disagreeing with me.
Remember, it’s about individuals
We’re all different. Some people won’t agree with you. No matter what you say. So you may as well say, quite simply, what you believe in.
I choose to use the ‘f’ word. Because it defines easily what I believe and any misconception that it means anything other than (I’ll say it again!) wanting equal rights for women, is a shame, but I have stated simply in what I believe and if someone chooses not to take my word for it, that’s really their prerogative. I don’t have to prove my beliefs to them.
In the same way, I am a pacifist, no one questions what this means.
Being a feminist, to me, is the same. And that’s my prerogative
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be ‘weak’ or ‘whiny’
You don’t have to be a ‘victim’ to be a feminist. You just need to want equality. It’s. really. That. Simple.
You can be super strong and want equality (if you like). Like Michele Obama 🙂
You can give feminism a good name
Feel like feminists have a bad rep? Well, you can change that.
Anyway, I’m not saying deciding to take that great leap and claim the name is easy. But I will say that if you are brave to even say the ‘f’ word once a year, you will be giving it a new shine, a new lease of life. Because there is a stereotype of angry bra-burning feminist, people shy away from using the word. But it’s not a big deal. It’s like saying, I eat chicken, I am a pacifist, I believe in human rights. I believe in equality. It’s the same thing.
Sharing that you are a feminist can be scary, but once you’ve done it, it really becomes reassuring just HOW MANY people will support you in your boldness to claim the label; to make it clear that you stand for women’s rights, and to show that you are not a horrible man-eating ogre to boot! 😉
So there we have it, ten ways to feel more comfortable using the ‘f’ word. I hope it’s helped.
Overall I have made my peace with the fact that there are those out there that do not believe what I believe, who do not understand my need for equality, who will make arguments against why they don’t see the need. And that’s ok. Hopefully one day we will be able to connect. Or not. But that’s their role in life, and this is mine. And I have to play it out with as much gusto as I possibly can.
I think one reason my blog has had so much support and not one negative comment (again, so far!), is because I am usually positive with my posts, always looking for the best in any situation and supporting young women. There is no ‘down with men’ speak of any kind, because I love men, and I think being a woman is a wonderful thing to be, I just also want equality…