My first day as a FEM Newsmagazine writer, our editor asked us, “why are you a feminist?” One-by-one, my colleagues declared their reasons; I on the other hand, said,
“I do not consider myself a feminist. I just believe in human rights.”
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I was particularly ashamed of the word, I’ve just never been a fan of labels.
When it comes to forming part of a specific social brand, especially within the realm of social advocacy, I have always been resistant to labels, and how–to a certain extent–it reduces an individual to a particular manufactured social group. However, I couldn’t help but to feel guilty over my response. Hmm, exsqueeze me, closeted feminist much?
To me, a closeted feminist is a person who does not want to publicly disclose his or her personal relationship to the word. The secrecy is mostly due to the inevitable, and at times annoying, unnecessary explanation of forming part of a socially “radical” group.
Possessing opinions, or believe in anything really, and you are likely to be bombarded with comments such as, “YOU’RE WRONG”, “HERE’S WHY YOU ARE DEFINITELY WRONG”, “YES, YOU ARE STILL GETTING IT WRONG”, “I WILL LET YOU FINISH, BUT YOU’RE STILL WRONG” Oh, and my personal fave, “YOU STILL BELIEVE IN THAT SHIT?”
Every now and then, a closeted feminist may inwardly stumble across questions like: Do I slut shame? Should I be pro or against it? Do I act like a “bitch”? Should I be more confident? Beyonce, should I wake up “flawless”?!!!
But seriously, how should I represent such a powerful word, when hundreds of people with different cultural backgrounds are trying to define it, and to a certain extent, define me?
For me, feminism became definable ever since I was a child who was told that fat is “ugly,” that being bullied is “normal,” that education is a “waste of time,” that I should dress for others, that success is related to the person I will ultimately end up with, and the list goes on. Over the years, feminism taught me to never comply with what other people think I ought to personify–it also helped having Lisa Simpson as one of my role models.
Image credit: gifake.net
Beneath the realm of social classification, we are individuals, and I believe feminism is malleable to a certain extent. That is, it takes shape according to the individual’s personal experiences. In a sense, it is a collection of personal struggles and triumphs.
Nevertheless, I do believe that WE collectively share a need to live in a world where we can be whoever we want and help others have that option– without the guilt.