“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.” – Ani DiFranco
Twice in my life I have been looked down upon by other female feminists for something I have done. Once, it was a medical condition I had (which apparently was my body’s way of telling me I was a lesbian- and that I should embrace that, and not doing so meant I was a bad feminist) and another it was for liking a song that was supposedly drenched in misogyny (My argument? It wasn’t.)
Both times this has happened it has left me in tears. It makes you doubt yourself, makes you even doubt if you want to be part of a cause if people from inside the movement will make you feel that small. If you’re being attacked from the inside, how the hell are you going to survive on the outside?
This happens rarely. I have experienced it only twice and yet I loudly proclaim a lot that I’m sure many a feminist would think negatively of. And it happens in all political movements too. There is always someone getting angry at others for not being as passionate/angry/consumed by the cause.
“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem
I understand why it happens- when you first start reading into feminism, you can’t help yourself. Every corner you turn you see misogyny, everytime you turn on the TV you’re horrified at this new world that you had previously been blinded to. I spent about six months on the brink of tears from frustration at the world all the time. But, that’s no way to live. I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m sure I wasn’t a fun person to be around. I didn’t counciously stop being that way. I just simply couldn’t do it. The constant anger and the tears exhausted me.
It’s not like I no longer see it. I do. Oh, I do. And it’s not like I laugh at it and brush it off, or think “Well, there’s nothing to be done!” It’s just there’s no point in getting angry. You see any argument, anywhere, and the angry one always loses out to the calm, collected argument. If you make yourself approachable, you aren’t judgemental, and you listen to others – you can convince them round to your way of thinking, you can get them to walk away from the conversation and go “Oh, maybe I’m a feminist then!” I’ve had this breakthrough multiple times since I calmed down. And in my anger? Not a sausage.
There’s a thing called Sisterhood. It’s about sticking up for your fellow women, it’s about picking up the coin that that woman infront of you dropped, it’s about seeing a woman on the street crying and stopping to ask if she’s ok, it’s about helping that woman with her buggy down the steps, it’s about being supportive. It’s being human. And not in any circumstance is it attacking another woman for not being the kind of woman you think she ought to be. Some women are “girly”, some women like wearing make-up, some women like listening to hip-hop, some women like being submissive in sexual relationships, some women just want to get married and have children. Women are women. Women are people. People are diverse, and there is nothing wrong with that.
“Feminism has to be for all women. Even women you think are stupid, naive, or “tragically unfamiliar with the content of Playboy.” Even women who walk into the wrong room. Even women with bad publicists. Even women with no publicists. Even women who expect professional photographers and stylists to honor professional contracts without question. Even women who have lied. Even women who have bashed other women. Even women who you think have capitalized on their “female sexuality.” Even women who “flaunt [their] junk for money and fame.” Even women with cleavage on the cover of books. Even women who sometimes wear bikinis. Even women who don’t perform all of these feats of “female sexuality” naturally, even women from whom it’s all “an act.” Even women you think are bitches. Even women who talk about it.” From Feminism for Bitches – The Washington City Post
So yeah, even if you think they’re wrong, don’t jump to it and tell them that ‘they should know better’. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t be a brick wall. Talk to them calmy, maybe you’ll learn from them.