Activism and Intersectionality: I Shouldn’t Need to Convince You

trigger warning: discussion of domestic violence, rape, trans* violence, and WOC violence

The world isn’t always moving forwards or backwards. We’ve gone around in a few circles in our time. Sexism, racism, transmisogyny, and homophobia have all expanded in the associating of stereotypes and societal expectations.

First wave feminism’s suffrage goal has succeeded in our country and feminism has found new goals and battles. Second wave feminism focused on women adopting ‘masculinity’ in their identities. It was about job equality, reproductive rights, and political representation. Third wave focused on reclaiming femininity. Fourth wave is our current wave. Fourth wave recognizes the intersectionality in society’s inequality. Racism, sexism, cissexism, and homophobia – they are all the same injustice, with different results and meanings. Injustice bleeds injustice.

What does feminism mean to us anymore?  Is feminism being who you want to be or who you choose to be?

A piece of advice my mother too often gives me is, “Everyone makes sacrifices for the patriarchy. I try not to judge what others choose.”

It is not anti-feminist to be the happy housewife heroine. It is not anti-feminist to never have children. It is not inherently anti-feminist to be a cis, straight, white man in power. It is not inherently anti-feminist to be trans, gay, of color, or female without power.

What does feminism mean to me? I used the term first in eighth grade, after seeing a documentary on the history of American feminism. I didn’t understand why so many people around me hesitated to adopt the title, so I assumed ‘feminist’ was reserved for activists, such as myself. I didn’t know that the happy housewife heroine could be a feminist or that the gender and sexuality spectrums existed. But I grew, of course, and I learned. I learned about body image and pay equity and abortion and I was absolutely furious. I had spent too long trying to be feminist and likable. I had been playing by their rules only to find that by their rules I did not exist. I became their “Feminazi,” their stereotype because that was who I was and I felt entitled to my outrage.

When people find I am a feminist (it doesn’t take long) their brain will often go to “Feminist=Angry, Hairy, Lesbian” but, you know, two out of three ain’t bad. People will expect me to be the perfect example of feminism because I care about it. They expect me to represent the abilities of all women through my politics. If I argue women are capable of a task, they expect me, as the resident feminist, to be able to perform it. When a woman fails, she represents women. When a man fails, he represents an outlier of his otherwise perfect gender.

I never understood, I still don’t understand, why it is so hard for people to comprehend the inherent good of feminism.

It puzzles me, how some things can be so obvious and yet so many don’t seem to notice them. It puzzles me how anyone could think that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is an appropriate play for high schoolers to perform, as Princeton High School is. A play based on the rape of the Sabine women, and perpetuating the grave human rights violation of bride kidnapping that still persists in many places in the world does not seem appropriate. And yet, it happened.

It puzzles me how hard it is to get schools to acknowledge one’s gender identity, even though that right is protected under Title IX as of 2013.

It puzzles me how women appear nowhere on our currency. How in the world has Andrew Jackson improved society more than Alice Paul? Or Sojourner Truth? Or Harriet Tubman? How has it come to be that our worst president is still ranked above countless women who are responsible for the freedoms that exist in our society today?

It puzzles me every day as I read story after story of women who were raped by people they knew and didn’t know, and then dismissed and trivialized by people they trusted and people sworn to protect them. It puzzles me how blind society is, how happy people can be standing atop a pile of dead bodies in order to be closer to the sun.

That is what I do. I grab people by the arm and scream at them, “Look! See the pile of bodies on which you stand! See the suffering and the injustice you have brought upon them in order to benefit yourself!” I force people to choose. I scream and I hope one day my words will reach their brain.

Sometimes they look down and scream too. Sometimes they put their fingers in their ears and sing at the top of their lungs. Too many people are content in their apathy. Too many people love the sun more than morality.

Apathy is no better than stupidity. When one calls oneself a feminist, that is a commitment to women and to society as a whole.

There is no place for feminism that excludes women of color. There is no place for feminism that excludes lesbians. There is no pace for feminism that excludes trans women. There is no place for feminism that excludes disabled women. Feminism is about everyone. Feminism is accepting oneself as oneself, not creating an ideal woman and expecting everyone to glorify her.

For let us keep in mind; it is not only feminists and the apathetic. There are the people who laugh and add more bodies to the pile. There are the MRA’s, the “men’s rights activists.”

I need feminism because MRA’s have proposed for October to become “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” where a man should take a woman “by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”

I need feminism because MRA’s believe the official age of consent should be 12. 

I need feminism because MRA leader Paul Elam’s (‘male’ backwards, how original) slogan for the movement is “fuck their shit up” elaborating, “The idea of fucking your shit up gives me an erection.”

I need feminism because nothing happens to the men who rape women, especially on college campuses when rapists should be at least expelled if not imprisoned for life.

I need feminism because women no longer constitute half of the world’s population due to epidemic levels of domestic violence.

I need feminism because on November 17th, an army of fifteen misogynists marched into my feminist club and mansplained to us how pay inequity was a myth and how violence against women isn’t a real thing. They then assured us that if we read for more than ten minutes a day, we would know things like this.

I need feminism because Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, Yvette Smith, Pearlie Smith, Tarika Wilson, Tyisha Miller, Kathryn Johnson, Gabriella Nevarez, Eleanor Bumpurs, or the countless other women of color murdered by police officers were given no mention in the media whatsoever.

I need feminism because trans women constituted 50% of murder victims in 2009, and yet people still deny the fact that trans people exist.

We should all be feminists. We should all care. We should all take part in our society to end MRA terrorism and female oppression. I shouldn’t need to convince you.

I will keep smashing the patriarchy until there is nothing left to smash.

– Written by Nora Aguiar (redefy contributer)