In the current political climate, the call for “girl power” is stronger and louder than ever. And ever though the call to action is there, for many getting started can be intimidating. So often there is this belief when it comes to feminism that it’s an all or nothing deal. Like if you are not at every rally or well-versed in every issue then what’s the point? This is hardly the case. Being a feminist is a personal journey. In hopes of encouraging others who may be intimidated by the title, I decided to share how I “became” a feminist.
Whether or not I made a conscious effort to do so, I have always been interested in feminism simply from being a girl. I started to become more vocal about feminist issues in high school, though. A lot of my friends started conversations about feminism and, in turn, I became more aware of its importance. I joined a club at school called the “Stop Slut Shaming Coalition” (yes, that was its real name), which was connected to a New York-based organization called the Arts Effect. The club gave me the opportunity to see that the words were more than innocent words. Slut culture leads to rape culture.
I also testified at NY City Hall about the public school dress code, as it generally targets girls by condemning outfits typically worn by females. I had had a lot of bad experiences with the dress code in middle school and knew I needed to testify about it, knew my voice mattered and that I’d be able to tell my story eloquently.
I’m still struggling to find the best space for me to get involved in feminism in college, but my best advice for getting involved would be to join whatever clubs and organizations your schools offer, to seek out opportunities within your cities, and to educate yourself. Read lots of books. (My top recommendation being Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist” and I am currently reading Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me“).
But also remember to take up an appropriate amount of space. Don’t get involved with activist work just to feel like you’re doing something right. Get involved when the time is right for you and when you know your voice will add value. Lots of people suddenly jumped on the feminist band wagon since the election. Though great, remember that these issues have been around forever and that when your experiences are being represented, you should do what you can to speak up!
(Images by @sarahgargano29)