What is feminism? Is feminism something that only one type of person can be? To be a feminist, does one have to be a woman? Or even feminine? I suppose the definition of feminism depends upon the individual’s perspective.
I know that the media often displays feminism as a crazed phase, or even a mental illness. It is talked about as if it is a disease, something your children can catch in college. It’s a state of mind where a woman aborts her husband and family, sleeps with and/or schemes with other female conspirators, and is never caught without a megaphone. This is the stereotype, and (living in the ever so infamously red state of Arizona) I see this portrayal more often than not.
Growing up with constant brainwashing like this is quite a challenge, especially for someone who is queer. I was born in a female’s body with a man’s mind that is attracted to women, so that really set me up for an interesting life, right? My point is that feminism to me might be something unique.
I dwell in a body that is not mine. I do not like to have boobs nor a vagina. This is certainly not because I do not appreciate boobs and vagina. Let’s make that clear. They are simply not mine and they do not belong on me. In my mind’s eye I see myself as a short stalky guy with muscle definition, some fluffy body hair, and a tan to die for. Really, think about yourself as a female identified person with a penis between your legs and hair on your flat chest. How is that working out for you? It is not a hate thing, simply a gender identity thing.
I have been told that my thought process is more along the lines of male. I also have some physical male traits. I desire to do many “male” things, according to society. This is not a choice, rather a biological setting that creates a physical, emotional, and mental tension in my life. This tension causes me to ponder gender itself, how it relates to every individual on Mother Nature’s earth, and how it relates to our complex society.
Despite my contradictions, I am undoubtedly a feminist. I believe in equality (socially, economically, politically, etc) for all genders. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in a woman’s right to whatever relationship a woman desires (monogamy, polygamy, hetero, homo). I believe a woman can be involved in whatever dynamic she chooses (top, bottom, or both). I believe in a woman’s right to choose her path, and walk along that path safely without some chauvinistic pig to stand in her way.
My advocacy for women and queers, I believe, stems from a long battle of masculinity and femininity within myself. I began life labeled as a stereotypical girl. I was taught by chauvinists to be quiet, passive, gentle, and beautiful regardless of any pain it might bring me. As one reaches each milestone in life, life may call to be the opposite of one or all of these things. Make-up and dresses were also forced upon me (quite physically sometimes), and though I would protest for a moment, I would rebound to be what I was taught to be.
At one point in my life, this caused me to move into the completely opposite direction. Thus conjuring my “tomboy stage.” I did everything I could to portray myself as masculine. I began to wear boy’s clothes, cut my hair short, and eventually confess my crushes on other girls. Though I did not understand this at the time, this was the most natural thing I could do for myself. Unfortunately, I went too far. This masculinity that I was experimenting with turned to anger. I could not fathom to look at myself anymore. I had become cold, turned off emotionally to everything. No sensitivity. Not even for myself.
In my first year of college, it dawned on me that I am transgender. I figured out what I really was, and that there was a name for it. An amazing artist came to my school to tell his story of what being transgender was like, and I immediately identified with him. I noticed that though he had a beard, sounded, and looked just like a biological man, he was also sensitive and kind. He carried himself with confidence and strength. He was love and war wrapped in one. A wounded soldier who had survived his battles. He had emerged as a greater person. He had peace and balance in his life because he accepted who he is. He found a balance of masculinity and femininity and discovered his own gender. He accepted equality and individuality.
I am now along that similar path. Still battling to balance my gender, but still acknowledging my biological sex and what that means in relation to my mental and emotional health. Am I an entirely different gender between man and woman? Possibley. But does being just a man or just a woman mean that one or the other is wrong? No.
To me, feminism is about coming to terms with your own individual gender, struggling with it, and emerging as a more equal and loving person because of it. It is about acknowledging your own sensitivity and becoming stronger as a consequence of fairness.
Go off, ponder your gender and how it relates to the world around you and to feminism. Tell me, what makes you a feminist?