I was an awful person who not only judged, slut-shamed, fat-shamed, and acted on internalized misogyny, but also thought I was better than those dumb wenches who would sell-out their body and brains for whatever reason. I thought I was above those women who cried for chivalry, which I found pathetic, and dismissed them as whiny romantics. Then I went on to say that I hated women for being whiny and blamed them for all perpetuating gender roles and stereotypes. But once I discovered the Internet, I started seeing everything differently.
But let’s go back to the beginning. I have always been a fairly liberal-minded person, even as a child. I learned at an early age that society will try to model me into what it wants me to be — an agreeable Asian girl. And I tried really hard to fit into that mold, until I went through a phase in which I refused to wear dresses or pink as well as expressed a dislike for the shopping. I couldn’t describe the reasoning behind my sudden aversion toward those things. Looking back on my behavior, I believe my distaste of dresses, shopping, and pink represented my early rejection of the patriarchal society which told me what to do and who to be. I didn’t resist them because I didn’t really like them, but because I didn’t like the idea that I had to like them to be a girl. In short, even when I was too young to recognize something problematic within our society, I knew enough to dislike it. I might not have fully understood the idea of objectification, gender roles, or sexism, but for some reason I felt compelled to battle against them.
But I didn’t like I should have, because I still really wanted to fit in. So after I went through my rebellious phase in elementary school, I entered middle school where I fell into line with the societal conventions that all middle schoolers are exposed to. I went along with sexist jokes and made some myself. I dismissed the actions and opinions of girls I didn’t like or who made me feel insecure by insulting them. This was the least offensive thing I did, because I was only highly judgmental. The most offensive thing I have done was objectifying my best girlfriends. I had used and abused them when I saw fit. That is, if they didn’t say or have what I want from them, I didn’t have respect them and can treat them however I wish. Talk about fitting in right?
I had basically surrendered to misogyny, because that environment made it exceedingly hard and disheartening to fight it. Without someone to point out what I did or say was wrong, I thought it was okay to continue such behavior. It sickens me to remember a time when I was a contributor in the perpetuation of sexism and misogyny. It was the social pressure that internalized my misogynistic tendencies. The most frustrating and stressful moments in casual interaction are when girls jump on board the misogyny train. But just as quickly as I once blindly stumbled down toward misogynistic tendencies, I got over that phase and approached an awareness of all things misogynist. In my last year of middle school I was convinced that sexism was acceptable, but then I experienced it first hand in class. My classmate told me that I couldn’t do as well as he could at any of their assignments because of my gender. That was enough, at the very least, to light a fire under my ass for the rest of the day, and at most make me more aware of how prevalent sexism was in day-to-day life of people of all ages.
This awareness intensified as I entered high school, where I hear sexist/homophobic/racist/just plain offensive comments every day. I don’t point out to the people who make these comments why they are offensive and why it’s not okay to say that, but when I have the courage to speak up, they just dismiss me as being a feminist. By branding me as a feminist (aka the lesbian, fun-police woman who is unable to take a joke), I am treated like my concerns for the feelings and well-being of others are obscene (why would you care for anyone but yourself?) and I should just shut up. But I didn’t. In fact, I did the opposite.
I harnessed the powerful of speech to and put on the Social Justice helmet, and attacked those who made inappropriate comments — be it sexist, racist, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, homophobic, transphobic, or anything else. I am not afraid of alienating others with my feminist rants, because my outraged mouth won’t shut under the social pressures. It’s quite easy for me because it’s easy not to care when someone calls you a bitch for speaking your mind and not putting up with patriarchal bullshit.
I don’t want to be accused of “special snowflake syndrome” as I discuss the topic at hand here. There are plenty of feminists in high school, male and female alike, who are also fighting the patriarchy. It’s frustrating to feel like a complete outsider among your peers, or to be ostracized for shaking off the lady-hate. But nothing compares to the feeling of finding people who respect and share your convictions, even in the most unlikely of places. Nothing compares to feeling as though you’ve seen the light for the first time. Feminism, for me, has opened a door to strength, self-love, and pride in who and what I am. No matter where I am, no matter how much it can drive me crazy, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In fact, Feminism has given me the energy to fight to protect and reinforce the rights I have as a woman and person.
“A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order.” My story from being a supporter of the patriarchy and misogynistic to being who I am today, a supporter of Feminism, human rights, and equality, is like that. In my childhood, I was in the middle of my story, with my innocent but insightful opinions about gender roles/stereotypes and rejection of the girly things. Then as grew up a bit more I went back to the disturbing beginning, which includes my slut-shaming phase in which I used the word “slut” like any other misogynist—like a perfectly acceptable word to use on girls you didn’t like or who make you feel insecure. Overall my story is rough because of the the repulsive things I have done and said out of indifferent and/or ignorance, but it’s not over. I’m not sure how or when it will end, or if it will ever end. I’d like to think that it will end with a fight, a final battle in my crusade against the patriarchy so to speak. But I don’t think it will, because I hope to inspire others and be apart of a legacy of Feminist warriors.
If you thought the fight for female equality was over, I’m sorry to tell you that a whole new round is only just beginning.
This is horribly unorganized. I’m sorry.