Jessica Valenti opened her talk tonight by asking the feminists in the audience to raise their hands, and I froze. I take the classes, I read the books, I try to monitor the research, and I obsess over the blogs. I know what a feminist looks like. I’m a feminist.
But I didn’t raise my hand.
Initially I figured that her question had caught me off guard, and I just hadn’t reacted quickly enough. That seemed like a proper excuse. But I don’t think Jessica, the Executive Editor of Feministing.com, and author of Full Frontal Feminism, would let me get away with that. I don’t think I should let myself get away with it.
I kept my hand down because I was embarassed. It’s the same reason that I’m careful not to talk about Feminist Studies courses with most people. I get sick of hearing “Why are you taking that ?”, or of pretending to ignore the wisecracks about how I must be trying to get laid. When I get that response, my stomach shrinks, my neck goes frigid, and I find myself backpedalling, and explaining why I find value in learning about giving everyone equal rights, opportunities, and control of their bodies. I’ve conditioned myself into avoiding talking about a large part of my interests, just to avoid the haters and the stereotypes.
FUNK THAT. I’m sitting at my computer, raising my hand right now. And I’m not going to back down next time someone asks me if I’m a feminist.