Finding Feminism

Photo by Lauren Du Bignon

In my post about not blogging for a while and wanting to make a comeback, I mentioned wanting to write more feminist content. And I do.

Feminism is a huge part of my life, and I believe it should have a space in everyone’s lives. I’ve worked with feminist charities like Refuge & Women’s Aid and brought it to my podcast. I even started a feminist magazine.

But for some reason, it never quite made it to my blog in the way I wanted to. Perhaps that’s because I, regrettably, spent too much time writing about bullshit.

You can read more about my thoughts on bullshit here.

So, I want to introduce feminism to my blog by chatting about my own introduction to feminism.

Finding Feminism

No. This isn’t another Pixar sequel. Although, imagine how amazing that would be! Dory could swim around being woke and smashing the patriarchy, and maybe she’d finally slap Marlin for always limiting her. But then she’d forget about all the hard work she’d done, and it would all come crashing down again.

ANYWAY.

We’re getting off track.

This is a post about how I found my feminism. How I went from not giving a shit about any of society’s unfairness to women, to becoming an activist who speaks about feminism on TV and started a whole production based around its principles (and there will be more feminist projects to come…)

Ignorance & Internalised Misogyny

Okay. Here’s the confession part of this post. When I say there was a time that I realised I was a feminist and possessed ideals about changing society and it’s constructs to benefit the sexes equally, I mean I did a full 180. It wasn’t a case of me floating around school and college getting on with other

Maturing & Noticing

It sounds silly and like I’m desperate for avoidance from my naivety, but I honestly don’t think I noticed a lot of the unfairness in society, particularly when it came to gender-based power imbalances, until a certain age. I remember, when I was younger, certain family members of mine would say ridiculously sexist things as though they were day-to-day colloquialisms. That was just how it was, and I didn’t see a necessity for change. When I say I didn’t used to be a feminist, I mean I was quite the obvious.

I used to be one of those idiots that says feminism is stupid and a waste of time. I even think I once said the words ‘I don’t know why women complain about cat calling.’

I hate this Beth. I want to meet this Beth in a carpark and punch her in the teeth.

This Beth is a total bell-end.

I’m pretty mad at my past self for being so ignorant and awful, but I also feel kind of sad towards that part of my life, as the reason for my ignorance was becoming immune to sexism.

I set sexist beliefs, power imbalances, manipulative behaviour from men and even outright sexual harassment as my standard, my norm. 

I grew up in a school where rape culture was rife, parents aligned particular job roles with genders and people used sexist speech freely as day-to-day colloquialisms. That’s just how it was. 

But there was a point in my life where feminism was activated within me. There was a significant event where I’d had enough, and not only did it make me a feminist from there on, but also awakened me to the wrong’s I’d previously endured, but wrongly accepted and justified. 

Getting Hurt

I eventually got hurt by a male in a way that felt significant, even within the sexist world I accepted as normal. My boyfriend-of-the-time, who I’d been dating for about a year started abusing me. ‘Started’ is a weird word. I think, similarly to what I just said about daily sexism, that he always had been abusing me. But with situations like this, there’s a realisation point. I had that realisation when sexual abuse started becoming part of my routine. I’d sleep, I’d eat, I’d come home, endure abuse, and and then sleep again. I think feminism and empowerment, unfortunately, shows up in this way for a lot of women. They don’t think they need it and then they’re hurt enough to see why they do. That’s why it’s always the most privileged women who appear to reject feminism. 

Once I’d broke up with this person and began trying to heal, there was an awful period where I revised our entire relationship by the second and unravelled every tiny action. Every behaviour. Every word. There were such subtle ‘warnings’ and ‘red flags’. Tiny examples of sexism that ultimately contributed to the detrimental treatment of me. 

I also picked up on people’s reactions to what had happened to me. It would have been pretty difficult not to notice those. The questions and disbelief I was met with will stick with me forever. On some days, they are my motivation to change perceptions and protect women. On others, unfortunately, it’s my reason for not wanting to get out of bed. 

Paying Attention

Something about getting hurt in this way opened my eyes to the entire culture of rape, and the patriarchy (that old chestnut). I realised how reinforced rape culture and power imbalances are in our society, and quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be believed, because of the stigmas we shape around violence victims. 

I was given ‘feminist goggles Once you start seeing the unfairness, you can’t stop seeing it. 

Wanting to See Change

Once you start seeing all the unfairness in the world, it haunts you in a way. Just walking down the corridor at school, arriving in your workplace, using public transport, you can see the way the sexes are treated differently. You scroll through social media and notice the mistreatment women receieve every day. And you want to see change. 

When people start seeing, they either want to ignore and bury because it’s easier, or they get angry. 

I personally got angry, like a lot of women. I wanted to see the change and I still want to see it now. It’s been over three years since I left my abusive boyfriend, and feminism is now a huge part of my life. I’ve embraced it in every way I can. The most equally empowering, comforting and upsetting part about becoming a feminist was learning that I’m not the only one who got hurt. And that this wasn’t the only way women get hurt, and that there are women in even worse situations. I’m now an activist for domestic violence, and I use my platforms to promote feminist activism and messages every day. The difference is its no longer just about me.

I’m no longer a feminist for myself. 

I’m here for all women.

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