For most of my life, I didn't really think one way or the other about feminism. I actually always got along much better with boys and had a hard time clicking with girls (but did - and do - cherish the several close female friends I had growing up). It wasn't until college that I began to become interested in the "f-word" (not that f-word people - feminism!). And even then, at age 17 or 18, I never outwardly called myself a feminist. I stayed away from declaring and fully embracing it. I was scared, for a number of reasons. Scared that people would view me through a very close-minded definition of "feminist" - AKA an angry woman who hates men. Scared that other feminists would pick up on my half-assed feminism and denounce me. I was scared that the choices I'd made in my past - letting men walk all over me, acting a certain way for men's enjoyment - meant that, maybe, I wasn't cut out to be a feminist. I spent the last year of college really delving into feminism and gender studies - I devoured books on the topic and wrote essays/poems/creative art pieces. But still, I never definitively called myself a feminist.
Within the last year that has absolutely, 100% changed.
I AM A FEMINIST.
I'm still navigating what it means to be a feminist, and delving into all the wonderful women and events that have created such a powerful and wonderful community of women. But, this time, I'm not tiptoeing around nervously, hoping that no one confronts or challenges me.
In all honesty, being forthright about my feminism hasn't come without challenges. Some people hear the word and look at me a little funny - like they're afraid I might, at any moment, rip off my bra and burn it (which, for full disclosure, I might!). I've had people sneer and dismiss feminism; still others have called me silly or naive. I've had adverse reactions from women and men, people I know well and people I've just met. Feminism is an inflammatory word.
But what's more important is the huge amount of support and community I've found since truly embracing feminism. For the first time in my life, I have more female friends than male, and I'm so thankful to be surrounded by incredible, strong, determined, and unique ladies.
The following poem is called "Womantra," and it's my declaration of feminism. In some ways it may appear to fulfill feminist stereotypes - there's something akin to anger etched in the words. But it's not the senseless, man-hating anger that people so often - incorrectly - associate with feminism. It's a passionate, declarative, I-am-unstoppable sort of emotion. The sort of feeling that propels me to never give up, to charge ahead even when others doubt me, to stand up - firmly, loudly, and euphorically for the things I believe in. This poem isn't directed at any one person (or type of person - men, women, etc.). It's simply the words and sensations that spilled forth when I thought about my journey into feminism - hell, sometimes when I read this poem I imagine I'm speaking to my past-self and my residual insecurities.
Create your own womantra - it doesn't have to be a poem, it doesn't even have to be words. Declare what you stand for, shout out about the things you love, and keep on becoming the wonderful person that you are!
If you can’t handle me,
If my girl-power, middle-finger, bra-burning bothers you
Because I am only gaining momentum
I am charging,
Ignited by the tide of my moon
Surrounded by my sisters.
I am a cunt
And damn proud of it.
You label me,
For fear of my labia -
You try to turn down my volume,
Fix and fondle me.
But I don’t need to be handled,
I have two hands
And they work damn well between my thighs.