Some friends have been posting this article on Facebook, and I realized I had more to say than a simple share warranted.
A few years ago, my dad advised me not to call myself a feminist. He said the word turns people off, turns them away from listening to what I might have to say. I spent a long time explaining to him the road I took to calling myself a feminist, how I resisted it for a long time, how I had to dismantle my own prejudices against the word, my own fear of being ignored and dismissed because of the label. I explained how I had to learn that there isn’t one feminism, but as many views as there are feminists (although these views can be loosely categorized into movements and sub-sets). I explained how using the word was my way of acknowledging the work that has already been done by people before me, how it is my refusal to be a nice girl, a good girl, a friendly girl. To be silenced by what is essentially an ad hominem attack.
I’ve had friends call me out because they found my anger, even when it wasn’t directed at them, uncomfortable. The question tends to be ‘why are you so angry.’ The more crap I see every day in big and little ways, the more my response has drifted into the realm of ‘why aren’t you?’
[Edit to note: this reaction of mine isn’t in response to people who are burned out/tired/can’t get angry anymore. Spoons. I get it. You have to do the self-care thing first. But then, those people never ask why I’m angry. They know. It’s to the people who honestly don’t see what I’m so worked up about. To them, I just kind of want to gesticulate wildly at the giant TYRANNOSAUR OF DOOM and be all “Don’t You SEE It?!”]
I missed a lot of this weekend’s news about the shootings in California and the #YesAllWomen response because I was enjoying myself in a safe, feminist space at WisCon, surrounded by wonderful people of all sorts of genders. I was too busy to check my usual news sources or Twitter. I even, in a rare moment of candidness, talked publicly about how I don’t perceive myself as a gendered being until I come into conflict–often traumatically–with social expectations and societally-imposed norms. In these moments, I become hyper-aware of how I’m perceived and will be perceived, and in those moments I cease to be an Alyc doing Alyc things, and I become a peg that has to shape myself to a variety of holes that don’t fit: do I push against the expectations? Do I engage in a behavior that I’m aware will conform to and confirm a gender identity I don’t actually experience myself as having, even if my own motivation is expedience or preference rather than gender performance?
Despite my internal perception-of-self, I realize that I will never pass as anything but a woman, and because of this, I get to enjoy all the dangers that women and people who society reads as women experience (however, I am unlikely to experience any of the dangers that trans people experience in addition to this).
I had such a good weekend not being angry, not encountering all the crap I usually encounter, that I almost wanted to let this whole thing pass by without comment. But I can’t, because safe spaces are a rarity, and the only way to make them more common is to not be silent.