The era of one's 20's is, as I call it, "toddlerhood for adulthood." You take some catastrophic blows, question every life decision you've made until that point, likely started over with something new, and still manage to pick yourself up on your own, because now, as you know, we are adults.
Adulthood brings a lot of changes, one being that the carefree, bandwagon attitude we once may have shared is no longer relevant or sustainable in the real world. I have found this to be profoundly true of feminism. In a world ruled by social media, it's easy to see how the initial fundamentals of feminism have slipped through the cracks. We've replaced human rights and social justice with surface skimming issues people of privilege get the luxury of standing upon. But, when we reduce the movement to squad goals and pay gaps, we are cheapening the rights and restoration belonging to us, and stifling the voices of the oppressed around the world.
Not only does this word have to be redefined in it's modern terms, it is fighting against decades of misinterpretation and fear. I took a quick poll of my dearest friends and family, asking them for the first word that came to mind when they heard "feminism", here is what I found:
Equal, Angry, Misrepresented, Progressive, Whiney, Annoying, Pushy, Strong, Fierce, Bold, Abrasive, Label, Selfish
Almost every one of those words describes a woman who is hard, forceful, and without a doubt, misrepresented. Clearly, the word feminism has a lot going against it. But don’t we? Is not the main reason feminism exists because we (women) have a lot going against us? We don’t get the same opportunity. Our voices aren’t heard. Our paychecks aren’t even. Our land isn’t our own. Our education is a luxury. Our marriages are made for us at 8 years old. Our dreams don’t matter. Our souls are are cut in half with the death of our husbands. We have to live in a tent one week out of the month because we are unclean. Our hands are best used traveling in search of water all day than writing our stories. We're given up when we're discovered to be a baby girl instead of a baby boy.
This is the reality of what it means to be born female across the world. Globally, our selves are are often lesser to our spouses and our siblings. Notice, I’m not speaking for only women in the west. We, women in western society, have been put in positions of privilege as far as the female front goes. Most of us are at least offered the same opportunities, as long as we hustle, but even so, race and socioeconomic status have huge implications to how one interprets the word feminism. My 78 cents to the man’s dollar is still 10 cents more than my black sisters, and 20 cents more than my hispanic ones. The list goes on.
Which brings me to one of the most important points in this letter: I recognize the ability to create this conversation – and this site – is largely due to my white privilege. Do not take this lightly or without reverence. I am a white, middle class, American woman, who was promised the fruit of the American Dream, despite it's outrageous shortcomings. I have never been followed in a store, pulled over and wrongly accused, or worried for my family's safety. I recognize the lens to which I have viewed the world, and will do my best to be vulnerable, fair, and compassionate as stories are shared on this platform. Feminism is a sensitive enough subject, but when race, religion, and class are involved, it becomes a towering game of Jenga built on a sandy beach with a rising tide.
La Gazette Féministe is not a platform for the "voiceless" or the "oppressed" to finally have a chance to share their stories. They don't need me to do that. It would truly be tragedy if this became yet another white horse coming in under the false pretense of salvation in the name of equality. White culture, when it thinks it's helping, does that enough, confirming privilege and alienating people. It will be risky and uncomfortable, and at times, people will be misunderstood. The purpose of starting this wasn't just to enlighten the world to it's harsh realities, but rather engage in a conversation where women (and men!) are able to freely tell their stories, their views on feminism, and how their unique experiences have shaped their views on gender equality.
We have to redefine the conversation. We have to re-engage. We no longer have the luxury of distancing ourselves from global issues, especially those affecting the female population. Call it globalization, or the revolution of social media, but we have the power to start the conversation redefining the word and re-routing the movement that has been hijacked by old ideals and positions of privilege. My goal with this project is that you, dear reader, will begin to unravel the ropes around your ideals, remove the barriers around your friendships, and open up your circles and conversations to women of all backgrounds. Here on The Féministe, you will find women from all faiths, races, industries, and lifestyles sharing their thoughts on what it is like to be a woman today, and the steps we need to take in order to make it a little easier for all of us. In my dream world, all girls have at least the opportunity to get an education and all women have the right to say no. My hope is, we learn to define it within its global context and see, we all need feminism.