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 OUSAP Graduate Assistant Corey Stevens
Like many people, I never really understood what feminism was all about until I came to college. Of course I’d heard the term before; my earliest recollection of hearing the word was from Eminem’s early hit, “The Real Slim Shady.” Needless to say, I had some misconceptions of what feminism really was. It was my Sociology 101 professor who explained that in order to be a feminist you simply had to believe that women and men should be equal. That was the moment I discovered that I was a feminist and from that day forward I have considered feminism a central part of my identity.
As I learned more about feminism and engaged in more and more feminist activism, I became empowered. Feminism gave me a language through which to talk about my experience and understand the experiences of other women as political. I learned that the violence that had been inflicted on me and many women I cared deeply about were not isolated incidents, but part of a greater system of patriarchy. Most importantly I learned that this violence was not acceptable and that we were not alone. Through my activism and my relationships with other feminists and survivors, I broke the silence about my experience and grew from a victim to a survivor and ultimately to an advocate.
I learned that all the messages I had received throughout my life that I was not worthy of love or respect because I dared to let hair, fat, pores, and acne disgrace my undisciplined body were all total bullshit designed to sell me sweat-shop produced clothing and toxic “health and beauty” products. I learned to love my body and take ownership of MY body, MY sexuality, and MY pleasure. My feminist studies have taught me to think critically about the messages that tell me, and all women, that we are unworthy and ugly. In fact, I have begun to build my career as an academic around the feminist issues of fat, sexuality, and the body.
Through engaging with my own oppression, I also learned to acknowledge the ways in which I am privileged. As a young, white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgendered person, I receive a great deal of privilege that many do not. My feminist studies have taught me that it is important to acknowledge and think critically about the ways in which race, gender, ability, size, sexuality, class, and so on intersect to create oppression. It is only though working to end all oppression that we can all truly be free. This to me is one of the central tenants of feminism.
I feel that my feminism has made me a stronger, more confidant and healthy person. I am in awe of all the wonderful, smart, interesting, and funny women I have meet through my life as a feminist scholar and activist. Feminism has made me the women I am today and I cannot wait to discover what I have yet to learn and experience.