Yes, I’m a feminist.

city street

This is my night, too.

So it’s nearly five in the morning, and I just woke up from a dream where I was nearly raped in a dark street by two guys the size of Channing Tatem…

Let me back up.

A few days ago, I started reading Le Clown’s Outlier Collective blog collection on feminist perspectives. In this one post, the belle jar (rather humorously) makes a list of criteria so one can determine whether or not she (or he) is a feminist. I really liked the post, but one thing really got to me: she decried a video of another feminist who said we need to make the word feminism more “male friendly”. She said that the world is already male-friendly enough, and that basically (in my words), we don’t need to candy coat the movement to make it more digestible for men who can’t understand that women’s basic human rights are still at stake…and are even at risk of being revoked.

I wanted to respond, but I just couldn’t. I wasn’t exactly sure why I had such a negative reaction to her opinion of this other woman, who in my mind was only trying to find a way to get 70 percent of American women who reject the word ‘feminism’ to stand behind the word, and thus support what is still an important movement. I thought it was because it made me feel like feminism was a club, and if you’re not a, b, or c, then you’re not a feminist. I also found it to be getting caught up in semantics (I also have no clue what the women in the video means by making something more “male friendly” – and I think we need to get more specific on these points).

But for some reason, I wake up after this dream, and I understand the belle jar’s emotional response.

So back to my dream…

I’m on a juice fast in reality, and in my dream it was the same, like one of those dreams where you get out of bed just like normal. I went down to my kitchen to have a beer, and I quickly became drunk as a skunk, likely because I’d had no food. So I decided to make tacos, scarf them down, and take a brisk walk to sober up. So I did, except when I was on my walk, I got lost…and I couldn’t open my eyes. I was setting the scene with an acute sense of vulnerability.

I remember walking briskly, blind as a bat in the dark, until I resorted to running with my hand brushing along a brick wall to keep from falling. I was developing a very bad feeling about this walk-turned-run. When I finally pried my eyelids open with my fingers to see where I was, I saw two men eyeing me like they were going to do something I wouldn’t like one bit.

They approached me and tried to pull my jeans down, and I started screaming for help. I ran up to doors pounding desperately for someone to answer. No one answered. I shouted help at a group of people walking along the street, but they just backed away. I was in a perfectly normal neighborhood, but no one would help me, and I had these huge guys after me. They were hateful, like they really thought I deserved to be completely reduced to this terrible thing they were going to do to me.

I finally managed to escape by running into a busy street and nearly getting hit by a car.

Did I deserve it because I was walking in the night, drunk off my juice-fast beer? Because in my dream, I was shaming myself for being so damned stupid to think that it was ok to walk alone at night…

Take back the night
I’ve always made my mom slightly nervous by doing brave things alone, like going running at 5:30 in the morning in my old, rather shady neighborhood. I always told her that any man that messed with me would not go unscathed; that he would be sorry for making the mistake of picking me to pick on. And in fact, I was followed by someone once. As I turned around to acknowledge him, fear spreading through my chest, I screamed “ARE YOU FUCKING FOLLOWING ME???”  He didn’t reply, but stopped dead in his tracks and crossed the street.

But, what if TWO guys did that, and they were the size of Channing? I’m no science buff, but basic physics tells me I’d be pretty screwed…no god-awful pun intended.

And after that dream, I got pretty mad.

I’m mad that I can’t go for a walk at night without the fear of being raped. I’m devastated that I have to read stories about a 12-year old Afghan girl getting her ears and nose cut off by her OWN HUSBAND for trying to run away from his abuse. I’m even mad that women are hired for what they’ve already proved, while men are hired based on their potential.

In another post I read, I admitted that I was a “feminist butt”, someone who wants to be a feminist, but doesn’t want to be associated with all those hairy-legged man haters. I even fessed up to my recent “humanist” stance, because we’re all in this together.

But I take the word back. The sex & gender pendulum of equality is not yet hanging in the middle. World-wide, women are being raped, beaten, and suppressed for the simple fact that they don’t have a penis. That’s just not fair, and while being human first of course is important, stating that I’m a feminist is also important, because then I have the opportunity to explain why. If I can live with people’s wayward glances at my vegetarianism, then surely I can handle standing up for myself and over half the world’s population (and bearers of the the world’s other half).

When my mom was working as a front-office secretary at a printing company back in the early 80’s, some idiot thought it was cute to smack her ass. When she complained to her manager, he told her simply “sorry, but that just comes with the territory”.

Thank god I don’t have to deal with that. And thank god I live in a place where I can write a blog like this and not fear imprisonment. But the reality is that so many women in this world face daily mistreatment for being women. Why??

My own feminist criteria
I personally don’t care if you’re the most masculine cowboy that ever lived, a butch lady, or a pretty thing that shaves her legs and wears red lipstick. I don’t care if you wax your pubic hair into the shape of a heart. If you believe that women and girls should walk this planet without fear of being terrorized for simply being female; if you believe women should have the exact same rights as men (legally and culturally), then in my eyes, you are a feminist.

I’m going forth like this. Just like this.

5 comments

  1. I fear men do not enjoy a monopoly on wickedness. However, I would love to see a world in which neither men nor women have to live in fear, and in which they could live in mutual respect. Perhaps on this we agree, and we can work from there.

    Cheers.

  2. I fear you may be right, but do you disagree that women ought be afraid at night, for example, in a way men should not (worldwide)? The sexual aspect of this whole issue is what gets to me in this dream. Let me also point out that I believe we are all victims of this inequality. Men just as much as women. We all suffer from suppression of anyone. Btw I have another post gender and inequality. Curious what you think of that one.

  3. Your definition of feminist works for me. It’s high time we turned out energies (and outrage, and humor, and etc.) outward instead of arguing with each other over definitions.

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