Saturday, June 7, 2008

Feminist first, blogger second, Amelia third

I have identified myself as a feminist for less than a year. I didn’t take on that identifier until halfway through my first term in college (approximately October 2007). But somehow, it has become my defining characteristic to many people who know me.

A friend at college introduced me to his girlfriend as Amelia, saying that I was a feminist and that I blogged.

A friend from high school, who goes to a different college, used to debate me about politics on an almost daily basis. We had near-shouting matches about everything from universal health care to the War in Iraq. Now he has started his own blog and likes to focus on his confusion over the feminist movement and putting anti-feminist spins on as much news as he can find, and his interest in feminism didn’t begin until I told him I was a feminist.

And my mom. Yes, my mom. The strong, independent woman who raised me with everything I needed to become a feminist. She constantly makes remarks like, “I know you won’t like this, but I want my husband to fix the car.” “I know you won’t like this, but I want my husband to lift this for me.” It’s like the fact that I call myself a feminist makes her self-conscious of all these things she does, so she has to make excuses for doing things that are “un-feminist.”

Why is that?

The only real difference that has come about in myself since I began calling myself a feminist is that, well, I started calling myself a feminist. And I started a blog. Maybe writing for a blog means I am more vocal about my stands on certain issues since this blog has allowed me to be part of feminist dialogues that I would have otherwise missed out on. Does that mean necessarily mean that I want people to look at me and automatically think “she’s a feminist” first? Well…I don’t know.

There is a problem with the word “feminist,” and maybe that is why people latch onto it so easily. Feminist is still a dirty word to so many people, that perhaps when my friends and family found out that I was a feminist, it surprised them. Maybe that surprise is what makes that part of my life stick out so much.

But it is annoying when the feminist part of me seems to overshadow the other parts of me. I will be seeing my very first paid article published in a non-college newspaper shortly. It will be a dream come true for me. But those people who see me as a feminist first, a blogger second, and Amelia third, may miss out on the fact that becoming a paid journalist is a huge part of who Amelia is.

Yes, I am a feminist, and I am proud of it. Being a feminist does affect how I think about the world and how I live my life, but it is not the only reason I am the way I am. It’s too easy to just slap the “feminist” label on me and be done with it. But that is not my sole identity. I am a feminist daughter. A feminist sister. A feminist girlfriend. A feminist liberal. A feminist college student. A feminist journalist. A feminist blogger.

If people are only looking at the first two words of those descriptions, than they really aren’t getting the whole picture. And I think that’s sad, because I like the person I am. Amelia, the feminist blogger, journalist, etc. All of it.


FeministGal said...

It's funny you write this, especially in relation to blogging and identity because it is precisely why i started my blog and named it "Oh, you're a FEMINIST?!"

I had way too many experiences in which i'd be carrying on a great conversation, debate even, with someone about politics, religion, gender, economy, whatever...they'd be taking me very seriously... treating me as somewhat of an intellectual and someone who knows her stuff... they really listen, think, respond... then: BAM! someone either mentions or somehow it gets brought up that i'm a feminist and: BAM! the conversations automatically changes and shifts from them taking me completely seriously to saying things like, "oh, you're just a feminist, no wonder you think that."

So after getting the "Oh, you're a FEMINIST?!" line over and over, whatever it was intended to mean, i started to really think about what an identity means and how people perceive you based on that identity. :) cool stuff! Happy weekend! :)

Lindsay said...

Yay for the personhood of Amelia!

Habladora said...

Congrats on your article!
I feel like 'feminism' is a term I don't want to run away from, despite the confused reaction it sometimes gets. Any label can become an insult, if we let it - and then the ideas the label stands for get demeaned too. Take 'liberal' - I get the 'well, that's what I'd expect from a liberal' line pretty often too. So, should we all change to progressive, and then change that when people start saying it with a sneer as well? I feel like standing up for the term feminist is a little way of standing up for women's rights.

Colt said...

Well ever since you became a feminist I haven't notice a change in your thought process or positions on topics. And this has helped me and my view of feminist.