Every time I call myself a feminist, even in my own head, I kind of feel like a fraud. I feel like my inner truths betray my desire to actually believe in feminist ideology. I feel like this is a really common experience. I think many women are caught in the limbo of desperately wanting to believe in feminism but being held back by their own ideas of themselves as women. I think many women believe in feminism for women as a whole, but not for themselves. At least, this is definitely my experience.
Let me describe how this disparity manifests in my life. I believe that the world needs feminism because all people are equal, which includes all gender identities, and I believe in fighting for true equality. At the same time I struggle with a deep sense of inferiority that makes it hard for me to believe that I deserve to be equal with anyone. I believe that acceptance of every body of every size and shape is essential to true equality because fat discrimination is a real phenomenon and because women will never be able to focus their energies on the true struggles of the world when they’re constantly worrying about fixing their bodies. However, I will unabashedly admit that I hate my body and that a ridiculous amount of my time and energy is devoted to worrying about it’s size and shape. I believe that women should never be made in to sex objects, but I thoroughly enjoy wearing skimpy clothes to the club and teasing men with my body. I believe women shouldn’t be catcalled on the street, but I take it as a compliment when a man (or woman for that matter) makes a rude comment about my appearance. I believe it’s wrong to call a woman a bitch for being assertive in a typically male way, but I will often call myself a bitch for doing just that. I believe that slut shaming is despicable, but I have slut shamed women I don’t like and even more often I slut shame myself. I believe that women should be able to pursue careers no matter what the cost to their families and I believe that women have every right to never have a family, but my personal choice is a “pink collar” career in nannying. Oh and I want to be a stay at home mom until my (currently nonexistent) kid goes to daycare. I believe that women should be able to do whatever they want to do in this world, but deep down I feel that this is not necessarily an achievable goal because men will always run the world.
So I live in a fairly constant struggle between my feminist ideals and my deep seated beliefs about myself, other women, and the world. It’s no wonder I feel like a fraud calling myself a feminist. But recently something has shifted within me and that shift prompted the question that this blog seeks to answer: “Am I a Feminist Too?”. That shift occurred when I started to wonder why I had all these deep seated beliefs that were in such contrast to my feminist ideals. Where did I get them? Who gave them to me? When I started to explore these questions I began to get curious and furious.
I started reading feminist blogs and academic papers about the media and the messages they send women. None of this was new information to me. I’ve written research papers numerous times about the effects the media has on women’s body image and their self confidence. The conclusion is simple: the media makes women feel like shit. All the time. However, I had never taken the inquiry a step further. I had never asked the questions “What is the purpose of these messages? What is society, via the media, trying to tell women about who they are?” The answers to these questions is what made me furious. So I began my journey become a true feminist rather than a feminist fraud.