I miss you so much I’m starting to go crazy.
"dark lipstick makes you look intimidating"
good. stay the hell away from me.
I LITERALLY wore black lipstick as a defense mechanism every time I took the subway in LA. Otherwise people (i.e. MEN) sit next to you and assume you are available to talk, even if you have earbuds, open book, giant fucking textbook, stack of paperwork and a pen— you are a woman and you must be there for them right? Men don’t get the hint unless you look intimidating apparently.
It’s full of my soon-to-be adventures to Southeast Asia
When I was 14, I was constantly in pain. Not physically, but emotionally. I felt shitty about myself and I couldn’t explain why. That was the shittiest part, too. I had no reason (or so I thought) to feel shitty and yet here I was constantly feeling like a rotten pile of logs— useless and ugly. From my perspective, I put all this effort into trying to fit in and I still didn’t (of course, no one noticed I didn’t fit in because no one actually cared if I did or not). I often muffled my answers from the back of the room because I didn’t want people to realize I was smart. And when I did noticeably surpass others in academics, I tried to cover it up or act dumb all of a sudden.
That was dumb. See, I’m actually pretty damn smart. It’s one of the things I was most proud of up until I hit 6th grade and everyone told me I wouldn’t get a boyfriend if I kept being a know-it-all. And don’t even get me started on all the times people called me bossy. Group projects were the devil because not only did it mean that everyone got a bird’s eye view of how “obnoxiously” smart I was, but if I tried to suppress it, it came out in small bursts of “the map actually goes this way” or “I think (trying to be nice, I actually knew) that is actually a division sign.” Everyone hates being corrected. I slowly learned to silence myself and my opinions. In a matter of a year I went from being loud and opinionated to quiet and dismissive. Submissive, I should say. To “the way things are.”
Well that really drained me. By the time I hit sophomore year I began to contemplate when my life went so horribly wrong??? When did I start feeling shitty? When did I stop being myself? Where the fuck did my self go???
That’s when feminism saved my soul. Oh my fucking god. I’m not fucking crazy! I’m not feeling shitty for no reason! I feel shitty because I’m oppressed, and worse yet IM THE ONE WHO’S DOING IT. That’s right. I silenced myself. Sure people told me to, told me I was bossy, that I was too smart, that no one wanted to date a smart girl. TV shows taught me that pretty girls were only vapid and bubbly. I couldn’t be both beautiful AND brilliant. I had to pick one, and I chose beauty because that’s what the media told me to.
But here’s the thing, I chose it. One of the most compelling complaints about feminism is that it “teaches women to be victims, to blame others for their shortcomings.” And I’ve noticed a lot of strong, independent, non-feminist (but actual feminist) women shy away from feminism for this reason. It seems like a valid argument (“look at all the wrongs the world has done to me,” “the patriarchy is ruining my life and I can’t do anything about it help me I need help,” “men have it so much better, I’m going to complain about all the ways they’ve wronged me”). And in a one-dimensional setting it actually is.
But in all reality, feminism empowers women to overcome their own oppression. We aren’t imagining oppression, but we are creating it. There was a study that measured female vs. male contributions in a class. As young children, kindergarten through 2nd grade, the contribution is distributed fairly evenly between the genders. But as the years go on, the girls get quieter until eventually only one girl speaks in a class discussion. And I don’t think it’s because the other girls stopped thinking or having things to say. It’s because we told ourselves that our opinions weren’t worth as much. That we should stay quiet so we don’t appear bossy or bitchy or too smart (too smart? what the actual fuck. Why do we think women geniuses don’t exist? They do, we’ve just been told that we should only be a certain amount of smart and we end up covering up the rest). No one taped up our mouths and told us not to speak. We taped them up ourselves with the convincing whispers from the patriarchy, “it is better to be seen and not heard, you don’t want to be too smart.”
So no, I am not a victim. I can take responsibility for shutting my smart self up. That is no one’s fault but mine. What we want to do though, is get rid of the obstacles that cause woman to oppress themselves in the first place (sexist advertisements, rape culture, lack of multidimensional female characters in TV, the damsel in distress dichotomy, maybe the fact that all of our history books teach us to look up to male heroes in virtually every era of history— ok yeah, so historically, women were oppressed tenfold what we do to ourselves now, so there aren’t a ton of woman to look to in history, but that very fact alone just keeps things that way—- maybe the lack of women in politics, and the fact that when women ARE in politics, the primary questions seem to be about how they plan to balance kids and politics like woah men have never done that, men aren’t in charge of kids, that’s kinda fucked).
So yeah, we are pointing a lot of fingers here. But the reason it’s so the complete opposite of victimizing ourselves is because we’re actually realizing and taking responsibility for succumbing to the patriarchy and instead of saying oh god look what it’s done to me! I’m so helpless and damaged now! We say, why the actual fuck did I ever fall into that trap? This is bullshit and I want other people to see that. I literally ENSLAVED MYSELF. And that is my fault. Time to free myself with feminism, methinks.
So that’s what I discovered with feminism. That I didn’t feel shitty for no reason. Maybe it’s not something wrong with me. It’s something wrong with the way I’ve tried to bend myself to the patriarchy (yes, the mother fucking patriarchy, but I’m still saying I’m the one who bent to it). So when I figured all of that out it was like holy dear mother of god I can finally be myself again and I don’t give two shits what anyone thinks about it or if I’ll get a boyfriend because I’m actually smart and opinionated. No sirree, this is who the fuck I am and I am not going to cover that up any longer.
And a sidenote, the patriarchy applies to men, too. And I’ll bet you’ll find an equally enlightened “thou shall not succumb to thy patriarchy” human who likes you because you are a smart and opinionated feminist. So take that, “feminism is for man-haters.”