The ultimate irony in the world of feminism is that the very act of identifying as a feminist is controversial. Forget the message, the movement, the manifestos: people hear the world “feminist” and promptly close their ears. Feminism has taken on a dirty, negative connotation.
What prevents people from joining this progressive movement is the connotation that comes along with it. We all want equal pay for men and women. We all want equal rights for men and women. However, we all share a fear of being frowned upon or mocked for our convictions.
Sadly, being a “feminist” often comes with some backlash. I know this well; as a loud and proud feminist in real life and on social media platforms, I often end up being the butt of someone’s joke. In my small-town high school environment, people who defend social issues are hard to come by–and even harder to come by are those who do so unapologetically. I try to surround myself like-minded individuals: for instance, my close friend Nadine, whose unabashed feminism and vigilant consciousness of social justice has always inspired me. I’m lucky to have a small group of friends whose values align with my own. However, my friends and I inevitably encounter people who aren’t so supportive of our ideals.
The funny thing about being a teenage feminist is that I often find myself defending my beliefs before I’ve even had the chance to articulate them. The preconceived notion of what a feminist should look like, should say, and should believe precedes me. I’m faced not with receptive ears and curious questions, but instead with juvenile accusations. “Oh, preaching about feminism again!” “God, you’re so serious! We’re just kidding. Can’t you just take a joke?” “No one’s ever gonna listen to you if you keep preaching like that all the time.” “Oh, get off your self-righteous high horse: being a feminist doesn’t make you better or wiser than anyone else!” “You just hate men!” “Stop shoving your beliefs down my throat. Sexism isn’t a real problem.” Continue reading