It is hard to remain sure of yourself in this world. It is even harder to have faith in who you are. It is very, very hard to be a feminist.
You think it’s easy, being a feminist when you are a woman. All you need to do, is love yourself. All you need to do, is believe you deserve equality. Yet there in lies the catch. At times, even you’ll forget that it is your right, to be thought of a person, not as a brood mare.
You think it is easy, to accept yourself as you are, it is not.
When everything you do, every thing you see, every moment you live in a world steeped in misogyny, the lines blur and you teeter at the edge of self-hate.
How do you fight against the world, when your inside is so conditioned to what your words contradict? How can you believe in equality when you don’t even love yourself?
Then you become aggressive, paint the world in angry colours, declare yourself, only yourself correct in a planet out there to get you, and behind the pride-filled lesbian feminazis I can see the shadow of desperation. A shadow filled with the doubts that plague me everyday. You think it is easy for me to be a feminist, you think it is easy for me to fight against lessons ingrained in the recesses of my brain?
If your grandmother told you you are impure and cannot touch your God for the five days your body is weeping out your life’s blood for the sake of humanity, when you’re 12 years old, would you call her names? No, you’ll believe her and move aside and stand like a pariah on the side.
If you find middle aged men wink at you from sidewalks and gawk at your sports-bra hidden breasts, what would you think about yourself? As someone dirty. Youd be frightened. I was too.
To all the girls out there, when was the first time you were called a slut?
I was thirteen.
My boyfriend’s (I know I made stupid mistakes) brother told him I was a slut an I would not last a week as his girlfriend. Why, had I sent him some untoward signal?
No. He didn’t even know me. He just saw me walking with my mother, and I was wearing a short skirt, so he told my fourteen year old boyfriend I was a slut.
And he broke up with me, and called me ugly things. A week later, he begged me to stop wearing skirts, and get back with him.
But, I was one of the fortunate few who escaped, and well I discovered that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t okay to feel inferior and small because I had a vagina and not a penis. It was okay to want something, it was okay to love someone. It was okay to say no.
Sometimes though, I cannot understand how I let someone walk over me that way. And I think of all the other girls who couldn’t say no. Who couldn’t realise they’re better than what they were told they were.
The number of short skirts that were abandoned, the number of voices that were stemmed. The number of nos that died because we didn’t believe we deserved equality, we deserved consent.
Yesterday, on an online chat site, a person began a conversation with “If you are a feminist, fuck off.”
I didn’t. I stayed, and I told that person he is mistaken. I believe in feminism, and he does too, and I got through to him. I told him I should judge all men as rapists if he judged all feminists as haters of men and propagators of superiority of women.
He said I was rude, and I told him, in all fairness so was he. So we were even.
And he agreed, for a moment, he decided feminists aren’t crazy men-killers.
They believe in common sense.
It’s funny, to think that same woman from last night is fighting against self doubt, her fingers slipping so rapidly as she tries to grab onto her beliefs that she is right, that she doesn’t deserve it. That he was at fault.
That she is innocent.
It is hard to be a feminist, when you doubt yourself.
I think of the man, sitting in his hotel room and typing away on his keyboard, unperturbed. This isn’t a big deal for him. I am here though, shaken because this isn’t somewhere I was supposed to have my guards up. This is work, right? they don’t care about your sex. Naivety gets me every time.
I should tell this story from the beginning because, even though the event is small I realise, there is something fundamentally wrong with my reaction to it.
I was shuffling through projects on a freelance website, and I came across one which said it needed a female writer to rewrite, with good research five stories for a website.
It seemed reasonable, they pay was slightly less but I didn’t mind. Plus, they had asked for female writers, and I was hoping it would be some feminist stories, or atleast something more interesting than the product descriptions I was slogging over.
Excited, I spent one of my 4 monthly bids to contact the client, named as ‘lissypriya’ who responded after a while with a message.
The message was asking me whether I would have a problem with the stories being erotic.
I was in a fix. I had wasted a precious project bid on this thing, and I always prided myself in being open minded, yet writing someone else’s erotic stories seemed slightly weird. I steeled myself and informed the presumed lady(the user name was feminine) that I would do it as long as the payment was not from a shady source. No under the table greyness.
The client agreed and asked for an email id to further explain the project.
Here is the email I received, copied word to word, including the typing errors.
ok firstly you may be little offented, im a man and lissy is my cheating wife
im now working over reas and i need some entertainment anonymously so i posted this project, its just chating with me ..
I was angry. And this was my response.
Firstly, I’m not offended, I am insulted.
Secondly, you are very mistaken, I am not some form of virtual hooker, and apologies, but you can go take your cheating wife and your seas elsewhere.
I’m also going to have to report you, its not personal.
Please don’t reply, or I am going to have to report your email account aswell.
It hardly expressed the loathing I felt for this unprofessional wad of used diapers, but I was trying to be professional.
Then I went to the websites help desk and began to type out my complaint. Half way through I stopped, my heart beating fast as I realised maybe, maybe this was my fault.
I had agreed to write an erotic short-story. Explaining that to the complainers was horrifying almost. What if they said it was my fault?
What if it was my fault?
What If what if what if.
I should probably just let it go.
And I did.
Its hard, being a feminist. Its hard, fighting for yourself.
Some of us just can’t do it, even if we want to. It’s hard to shake the status quo. Its hard to get used to the muted irritation whenever you say the word feminist in front of a man.
Its very hard to fight a losing fight, one you’ll fight for the rest of your life, while your father, your brothers, your boyfriend and your husband, and maybe your son says ‘its none of my business.’