Archive for ‘Feminism’

December 19, 2013

Breaking the Silence

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the worst things about coming home is seeing and hearing just how ignorant the people around me are when it comes to offensive and prejudiced language. Since coming home on Friday, I think I’ve heard at least a dozen racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or heterosexist comments made in regular conversation.

These aren’t blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or heterosexist people either. These are my friends and loved ones — people who are incredibly intelligent, loving, and compassionate. That’s why it saddens me so deeply to hear offensive language, stereotypes, and slurs being tossed around with no regard for people’s feelings or well-being. These people have the capacity to speak without offending. I don’t understand why, in the grand catalog of humor, someone would need to stoop so low to make jokes that target, objectify, and ridicule an entire group of people. They should know better…

Being basically the only minority I know in my group of friends (and the only semi-liberal queer feminist in my family), the burden kind of falls on me to speak up. Not saying it should be that way, but that’s how it always seems to end up, isn’t it? Naturally, I’m forced to be the representative of every oppressed, targeted, marginalized social group ever. I’m getting a pretty good idea of how Atlas felt. But, if I don’t do anything about what’s happening, nobody will. Everyone around me is completely content with the current social standards (though, I’d assume that this is the default setting for those in the favored majority).

It looks like I have plenty of work to do as a bystander. It might not make me many friends, but I’m through giving others my silent consent. In the past, my speaking out against offensive language with my friends and family has resulted in people resenting me, so I’m expecting the same kind of backlash moving forward. Around here, people treat “political correctness” like a dirty word. That mentality is part of the problem and really stunts my efforts to affect change where I live (it was much easier back in Portland, OR). People hear one word about social change and they just start to tune you out. It’s a good thing I have the rare gift of persistence.

If people really want to shoot the messenger, I don’t mind biting the bullet. What’s important to me is that people begin to think critically about what they say and how it affects the people around them. People have gotten way too comfortable using offensive language around me and I’m done sitting silently while they make my skin crawl and my ears burn. It’s time we started holding each other accountable for our words and actions. And that’s precisely what I’m going to start doing.

Prepare yourself, Utah. I’m comin’ for ya.

September 27, 2013

“We’re Women”

We’re women.

Even if we don’t like something they do,
we have to pretend to, for the sake of their machismo.
We have to constantly apologize
for not being what they want.
We’re not allowed to say “I don’t like that.”

Because we’re women;
we like everything that a man does.
Even if he’s an idiot.
Even if he hates us.

Every man I’ve met was a narcissist,
even if he didn’t know it.
Because he subscribes to and benefits from
a societal notion that the dialogue of every woman is
one big apology.

And he accepts it,
because we’re women
and that’s what we’re supposed to do.

We’re created with men in mind.
We’re made to serve their egos.
And if, God forbid, we don’t live up to their standards,
we’re cast out like lepers,
doomed to live alone forever.

And that’s wrong.
Because we’re women.
And what are women without men?

June 3, 2013

Okay

“Rather than fighting for every woman’s right to feel beautiful, I would like to see the return of a kind of feminism that tells women and girls everywhere that maybe it’s all right not to be pretty and perfectly well behaved. That maybe women who are plain, or large, or old, or differently abled, or who simply don’t give a damn what they look like because they’re too busy saving the world or rearranging their sock drawer, have as much right to take up space as anyone else.

I think if we want to take care of the next generation of girls we should reassure them that power, strength and character are more important than beauty and always will be, and that even if they aren’t thin and pretty, they are still worthy of respect. That feeling is the birthright of men everywhere. It’s about time we claimed it for ourselves.” (via brute-reason)

When I was little, I used to wish to be rich or famous or loved by everyone or powerful or influential. I used to dream big. I used to want extravagant things for myself. It’s not really like that anymore. Really, I only want thing: I want to feel okay with myself.

More than anything else, I want to be able to look at myself – my body, my face, my accomplishments, my personality – and be okay with the picture. My big, quintessential dream for my life is to look at myself one day and have nothing to complain about. I don’t even have to be proud of it, really. I just have to not hate something about me as a person.

I’ve noticed that a lot has changed since I started to really hate my body. It’s definitely affected my relationships with my family and my boyfriend. Almost every conversation with my parents revolves around my body, so there’s very little talk about things that should matter. My sister has gotten really comfortable with using the term of endearment “fatty,” and I don’t think she realizes how much that hurts me. And I can’t have a single conversation or interaction with my boyfriend without wondering whether or not he thinks I’m fat or have gained too much weight or am no longer attractive. Because if I was in his shoes, I really doubt I’d like me anymore.

I don’t think the people in my life really know how much it hurts to go through life never liking what you see when you look in the mirror. And it’s not an easy subject to talk about.

I wish that someone had told me when I was growing up that being attractive wasn’t important. I wish someone had pulled me aside and said to me that the world has it wrong and being kind and compassionate and smart is what makes you a good person and that being attractive has nothing to do with your worth and value as a human being. I wish that someone had told that it’s okay to love myself no matter what I look like.

Because I’m not beautiful. And I wish that I was allowed to be okay with that.

May 24, 2013

“There’s no need to get upset over nothing.”

Once, I was being verbally and sexually harassed at the mall by a group of teenage boys. My ears became hot with anger and I felt as though my blood was beginning to boil. I wanted to scream at them. But I didn’t. Instead, I vented to a “friend” of mine. This friend responded with the statement, “There’s no need to get upset over nothing.”

Yes, I am getting upset. No, it is not over nothing.

I get upset when white, straight, upper-class girls say that since they have never felt afraid to go out in public alone, I have no reason to be afraid.

I get upset when I am stopped by police officers for taking a walk in my own neighborhood.

I get upset when people shout obscenities and slurs at me when I walk down the street in “dyke” clothing.

I get upset when my parents tell me that I need to “stop dressing so butch.”

I get upset when people ask me, “Where are you from?” as if it’s impossible for me to be from the United States.

I get upset when girls ask me if I’ve ever had a crush on them as soon as they learn about my sexual orientation.

I get upset when people ask me if I have any straight friends.

I get upset when people ask me if I have any white friends.

I get upset when people ask me if I’m in an open relationship with my boyfriend simply because I’m bisexual.

I get upset when people ask me if my relationship with my boyfriend is some kind of diversity statement.

I get upset when people tell me to “get over it.”

I get upset when people say, “It’s all in your head.”

I get upset when people do not understand what it means to be depressed.

I get upset when people use the word “depressed” as a synonym for “bummed out.”

I get upset when people see my scars and call me an “attention whore.”

I get upset when I cannot freely walk through my own house without the fear of knowing that at any moment, I could be judged, ridiculed, or reprimanded because of my body and the way that I look.

I get upset when straight white men make jokes about their friends being fags or queers.

I get upset when a local news station refers to an entire community by simply calling us “gays,” as if our sexual orientation is our only identifier.

I get upset when people do not understand that the fear of being harassed, assaulted, discriminated against, or even killed because of my biological gender, my gender identity, my sexual orientation, my skin color, my race, my ethnicity, my weight, my mental health, and/or my partner is constant and ever-looming.

I get upset when people, who have never known what it means to live your entire life in a constant state of fear, attempt to dictate how I should and should not feel.

You have no right to decide a goddamn thing for me. Because you can and will never even fathom what it feels like to live in a world that you are simply a guest in.