Feminist Fridays in a new blog project in which one Women’s Center employee will tell the story of how she or he was influenced to identify as a feminist.
By Student Worker Kristen Magers
On a whim, I decided to take Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies during my sophomore year of college and my life was changed. I, too, had been guilty of making feminism into a dirty word and I thought that I would never identify as one, as not to be seen as a man hater or a bra burner. That changed as I delved deeper into my studies and I realized that this preconceived notion of feminism that many possess – that even I possessed – is false. It is up to me, and others, to demonstrate that the negative connotations of feminism as a whole are wrong. Okay, so I decided I am a feminist. So then what?
This revelation into women’s and gender studies and feminism caused almost a rebirth in me, and suddenly my life plans changed. I no longer want to be a psychologist; I want to be a professor. I want to watch students have that “ah ha!” moment when they realize they too are a feminist and love reading about feminism, being a feminist, talking about women’s and gender issues, and finding their voice. Great, I found something I feel really passionate about because honestly, that psychology stuff I was trying before really wasn’t working out for me.
So, now I just have to tell my mother. Oh, yeah, my mother. She loved telling friends and family that her daughter was going to be a psychologist. She dreamed of the six-figure salary she was certain I was going to bring home. This was going to be a tough one. So were my grandparents, who are conservative in every way. How would they react? How would everyone react? My family already thinks I am pretty radical because I have piercings and a tattoo. Oh, if only my grandpa knew I voted for…brace for it… Barack Obama.
I prepared myself for the questions and comments that I knew would come. “But, Kristen, why?” “But, I thought you wanted to be a psychologist?” “Don’t all feminists burn their bras?” One day, I finally just told her, “Mom, I want to be a college professor and I want to teach Women’s and Gender Studies.” She took it in stride but slowly the comments still slip out of her mouth. “I really don’t want you to give up on psychology!” After she had talked to her best friend, “Melissa and I thought all feminists were lesbians!” She even asked me about the legitimacy of a male studies program. Yeah, I’m still trying to process that one…
Overall my journey into feminism has been a completely positive one. As I have found strong feminist role models, and a “home” at the Ohio University Women’s Center, I have only felt my feminism strengthen. I went through a lot of life not really know what I believed in, or what to believe in but feminism led me to new passions and opened many doors for me in all aspects of life.