The above are two of my favorite photos from 2010, the above was taken in the Inspire headquarters, with me thinking that I was ‘Oh-So’ clever we my idea for a ‘YES WE CAN’ photo opportunity. The second image is of my sisters year 10 exhibition project, which is basically a project that they had to work on for about a month or so, on a free choice subject. I remember when she came up to me and said “Should I do something about child development, or something about womens rights and abortion“. From there, I literally danced around her saying ‘ABORTION! ABORTION!’, needless to say that I was really excited about the idea of grooming her to be a feminist.
When talking about these subjects, I get this yucky feeling in the bottom of my stomach sometimes, and I am guesstimating its a mix of feelings and memories of what oppression is. There have been times in highschool where I remember being the kid in the back of the classroom that would be ‘annoying’ everyone, because I would question things, and actually want to participate in conversations about the topic at hand. To which I once had several rows of girls, turning around, yelling at me to ‘would you just shut up, no one cares what you think!’. Mixed in with the conflicting desire to stand my ground, speak my voice about what I believe in, but also to not have that feeling when you are in a situation of rubbing against the grain, and you get so tired of fighting with people, debating what seems so bleedingly obviously right in my mind. Or the feeling of losing people that you had the potential to be really fantastic friends with someone, apart such issues with this, and it could destroy a potentially really great friendship/partnership, working on other issues/projects that you both believe in.
But then I see stuff like this, and I get really fired up, and really freaking angry, but really being left speechless, because I can’t find the words to write back a cohesive response, and am left in a state of facepalm.
I have come to the recent realization that I think I have been a feminist for the majority of my so far short life of 19 years. Looking back and recognizing that I got into alot of fights/debates with my parents, family, friends, classmates and teachers, over things that I felt was just me speaking my opinion. Some of it petty, but the majority of it, I felt wasn’t.
I have memories of having debates with friends and their boyfriends about how I didn’t think it was fair to call a girl a slut for hooking up with two boys at a party, while the boys got high-5’d and called legends. Withholding the belief that seemed so crazy radical at the time, that I don’t really believe that anyone is a slut, ever and that sex should not be seen as an enemy.
I remember getting angry at my Dad when he talked (somewhat jokingly) about how he would give my brothers condoms and booze for his after prom party, and wanted to give my brother a high 5 after he ‘scored’. And how when I started high school, he’d make me wear two pairs of overalls, forwards and backwards. In this strange kind of a ‘protective’ Dad humor, that I have never been able to find funny, because I was just so frustrated by the fact that he didn’t think of us as equal or treat us equally, and that while he seemed to be encouraging and egging my brother on, to get out there, experiment, I was being made to feel like I had to hide away any signs of sexuality, and even fear it. Or fighting with my mother, about her not wanting me to attend parties, because ‘I trust you, but I don’t trust the people there, especially the boys’ . Which would just seem, unfair, absurd, and sexist making assumptions about certain sex’s behavior, because I considered these boys to be my friends, and she was insinuating that they would rape/sexually assault me. To which I would ponder, ‘I wonder in a parallel universe their mothers lecture about them of the importance of not going out and raping people’. This is something the 13, 14, 15 year old versions of me were frustrated with, but was never able to find the words to properly articulate in a sassy, combat of ‘answering’ back. Instead of just yelling ‘I hate it when you say things like that, its bullshit, its not fair to talk about me like that’, than feeling both embarrassed and angry, as I got told off for ‘answering back/yelling/swearing/causing a scene in front of other people’.
The most of this would be blamed on the fact that I was a crazy teenager, full of all these crazy hormones, that caused all this crazy teenage angst that made me disagree with my parents and adults in general. Which my parents questionably ‘affectionately’ called the ‘Princess Bitchface’ years. Which would make me even more mad, because I didn’t think it was fair to be called a bitch, for voicing my opinions, when they/every other adult in the world, for yelling back when people yelled at me, ‘talking back’ when I disagreed with something, standing up for myself and not taking any crap. It felt like they were trying to trim me back into this idea of being a girl that was meek, quiet and eager to please.
Or telling me, that its ‘just because you’re a teenager’ and ‘You think you know everything, but you don’t’, and that one day, I’ll look back at myself, and see how wrong I was. Despite the fact that I never claimed to ‘know everything’, just that I didn’t agree with whatever it was that was going on. Which I eventually argued back with ‘Isn’t it funny when adults say that to make themselves feel better about the fact that they can’t remember how good it is to be this young’. This slightly incoherent rant, in my head actually meaning something along the lines of ‘that’s a bullshit argument that adults use to justify the fact that the don’t even have a decent debate or reasoning to back themselves up’.
19 is the last of my teenage years, which is terrifying, looking back there were some things that were a bit ridiculous, things that a privileged middle class girl can take for granted, not knowing anything else, things like bitching about how its not fair to be forced to take piano lessons, when I didn’t want them, and didn’t want to have to comply with expectation of practicing for X amount of time per day. But there are still some things that still make me want to leap up onto the table, embodied by my spirit animal of my 15 year old self and Ramona, yelling ‘Thats not Fair!’.
I can kind-of see the parenting style rooting from my parents, a generation that may have had a sense of ‘be seen, not heard, respect your parents, or they will punish/beat the shit out of you if you don’t’, that their parents would have gotten from their parents. Which I don’t think justify it, but its an interesting movement in culture, where in my childhood was where the changeover of when it stopped being PC/socially acceptable to take the woodern spoon out on your kids. I remember being hit, but I can’t remember how old I was when they made the conscious decision to not hit us as a means of punishment.
I really hated, and still hate that feeling of me vs them. Young people vs adults. Being told that we’re lazy, always wanting something for nothing, never trying taking everything for granted. I have alot of hope for my generation, because I think that we need to be the movers and shakers to try to get some change happening to improve and fix some previous boo boos. I love seeing young people having the opportunity to be empowered.
To clarify I don’t hate my parents in any state or form, they have done some great and generous things for me, but I feel like some of the parts of being human is being a dickhead sometimes, and parents are not un-included from this. I feel like the moments that we relate best are when they are nostalgic about their youth and the shenanigans that they got up to. I have that creeping stirring feeling in my stomach, the fear or writing or saying the wrong thing, ‘airing dirty washing’. But I think its important to be brave with this, acknowledge & to try to explain, and understand myself the roots of my identity, in this blog/rant. But to also be like the kind of people that I really respect, who are raw, uninhibited, and fearless.
With this as my new how-to-guide for life:
When I discovered the word and meaning of feminist, it was a strange and powerful thing, to find something I could identify with, and make sense with some of the things that I believe and am attracted to. It makes me feel like I belong somewhere, in a community of sorts, and validates my belief that I’m not just a crazy ranting bitch (most of the time). My interest in zines, equality, anti-sexism, pulling people up on their sexist comments, DIY culture, being anti-rape culture, hating the idea of slut shaming & rocking out to Rage against the Machines ‘Killing in the name of’. There’s still so much I want/need to learn, which I think will always be a general constant. As I am still trying to make sure that I can spell feminist, and roll the word ‘Misogyny’ off my tongue, and use it in the correct context.
I think I’m never going to be able to avoid the feeling that my life is a constant work in progress, and as Amanda Palmer has said “I’m still trying to express my truth, my place in the world, my belief,”. I like talking to people, I like hearing different opinions, as difficult and some of them may be to listen to, I like it when they agree with me, I like it when they disagree with me (sort-of) because I think its an important way to communicate and learn things with each other. I get frustrated with myself alot, because far too often I can’t find the right words to express myself, and I have a bad habbit of just repeating some things I hear to other people, when I’m not sure if I agree with them or not, just so that I can see what other people will respond with.
In the meantime the times that I can’t express myself, I think I will use rocking out to this, as a form of aerobics for punks as a coping mechanism. One day I will have the whole routine memorized.
Over and out hombres.