Why I Am A Feminist (A Privileged Science Major’s Story)

September 24, 2013 Comments Off on Why I Am A Feminist (A Privileged Science Major’s Story)

A/N: I am writing this post primarily because I plan to join the “Who Needs Feminism?” movement on Facebook and I’d like to clear a few things up here, first.

A couple of months ago (about three, I think) I did an “Unpopular Opinions” dump on Facebook about all the opinions I held but was afraid to discuss in everyday life.  One of them was, “I think most feminists are stupid.”

“BUT AMBER,” I can see some of you preparing to type, “HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT?  YOU KNOW THAT ISN’T TRUE.”

And it’s not.  The reason I wrote that, and the reason I believed it at the time, was because I had a really bad experience on Tumblr a couple of years ago, in which I got into a disagreement with a really popular feminist blogger.  She had an army on her side – it really was intimidating – despite her blog being nothing but fights with various people.

(Being older and more experienced now, I can understand a little of her massive, sustained, seething anger.  But only a little.)

At the time, I had my name and face plastered all over my blog, so she and her supporters immediately began attacking my privileges.  The fact that I was white and Caucasian (they knew that just from looking at me, of course.)  The fact that I was thin.  The fact that I was neurotypical.  The fact that I was rich (again, they knew more about me than I did.)  The fact.  The fact.

Finally, I started to get upset.  They had won.  And that’s when the blogger threw in a last dig.  She called my reaction – all of the emotions I was feeling, the anger, the sadness, the confusion – “privileged tears.”

Privileged tears.  Two words summing up everything I was.  My depression, my anxiety, the concern I felt about my body, my PTSD, my perfectionism, all of the things that might possibly cause me to cry.  In two words they were invalidated and dismissed.

Trivialized.

And it’s taken a few years to process, but that trivialization is exactly what most feminists are upset about.  The trivialization, not just of women, but of people in general.  Not just of minorities, either.  Women can’t be trivialized into empty-headed maids just like men cannot be trivialized into sex-hungry idiots.  That’s the kind of feminism I believe in, the kind that respects the feelings and opinions of all people.

As I begin my third year of college, I know many different types of people.  Those who claim that their lives have been ruined by feminism.  Those who claim that their lives have been saved by feminism.  Those who have labeled me a “radical” because I produced The Vagina Monologues.  Those who call me naive because I still believe in the inherent equality and goodness of people.

For the most part, I’ve learned not to care too much about what other people say.  At this point, I am well aware of my many privileges.  I also know that I will never know enough about social inequality and feminist theory, mainly because I’m not a SWGS major, and because there are just not enough hours in the day to learn everything I would like to.

But here’s the bottom line about me and feminism:  I need feminism because I believe that men and women have equal worth and intelligence, and because I believe that I have the right to safety and autonomy.  That’s all.  It’s that simple and that complicated.  

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