Is it too polarizing to introduce myself as an angry feminist killjoy?
I was incredibly lucky to be born a United States citizen. There are lots of problems in the US, and this country’s history is cringe-worthy at best. But from what I’ve been taught, it is undeniably one of the most privileged places you can be. This culture (they keep telling me) is at the top: a fully developed, first-world, wealthy nation. The veracity of those statements is debatable, but I know that I’m lucky to be here. I’m lucky to be a citizen. I am in a position to speak and critique without fear. I have a lot of thoughts and a lot of critiques.
We live in a racist, sexist place. Young women are taught to hate themselves and to hate other young women. Maybe no one ever said as much explicitly, but we’re all taught to be rivals, competitors, back-stabbing, jealous maniacs. In our society if you’re not white and emaciated, you’re not doing it right. We live in a place where we don’t talk about our bodies, are ashamed of the totally normal things our bodies do (like bleed and grow hair), and definitely don’t have agency over our own bodies. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make healthy and informed decisions about our bodies? Good luck even getting that education into a public school! Okay, so you found some information and now you’re ready to claim your body and your rights. Awesome! Except you’ll also have to wade through a sea of social stigmas, the kind that say, “If you’re raped or sexually assaulted, it was probably your fault.”
If you’re like me, all of this has been piling up for your entire life. It’s overwhelming. It’s aggravating. It seems like nothing we do changes anything and suddenly you’re yelling, “Don’t you tell me what to do! I am not your puppet!” at a guy in a bar. That’s a thing I have done more than once. I think I startled myself more than the dude the first time it happened. Because we’re also taught to be quiet, to brush off harassment- it’s just the way guys are, right? (Eye-rolling so hard y’all.) Talking back can absolutely incite violence, and we should always make our safety the #1 priority, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about speaking out. The first time I let someone know I didn’t appreciate their unsolicited demands, I realized I wasn’t just annoyed by boys being boys, I was completely livid about our entire flawed society. I’m mad about our slut shaming, victim blaming rape culture. I’m mad that we only recognize a gender binary and punish anyone who doesn’t fit into our impossible boxes. I’m mad about white privilege. I’m mad about all kinds of inequity. I’m really mad.
And that’s awesome! We can do a lot with anger. Anger is a great motivator. So while my natural inclinations and general disposition might encompass that ‘sugar, spice, and everything nice’ line a bit more fully than I like to admit, pleasantries and complacency won’t solve anything. If we’re going to change the culture, we might need to start with a good bit of righteous indignation.
Let’s get angry! Let’s get feminist! If the joy is sprouting from sexism, let’s kill it!