My girlfriend said to me the other night, after I told her that I was typing out a (yet to be finished) post on language and it’s misuse, that she has really enjoyed watching me get into feminism and speak up about it (I’m paraphrasing). And my immediate thought was, “no… don’t say that”.
Which I didn’t respond with, because I thought it’d be rude, and I wanted to unpack that and figure out why I had thought it and what I actually meant. It wasn’t false modesty, I knew that from the beginning, I wasn’t attempting to be humble or to put myself down in order to seek more affirmation or praise, it was something else, and that took a while to pin down (partly because I didn’t have my mirror (James) to reflect for me what was going on in my head).
But anyway… here is what I’ve unpacked so far (and it’s late and I am tired, so hopefully this won’t be too long). My background is in science, that’s what I studied in VCE and then I did a year of Engineering. I didn’t understand feminism for a long time, though I would have been called a feminist by some I suspect because I demanded equal treatment in most things regardless of my gender (thanks to my upbringing – another story for another time). Because I didn’t understand feminist thought and feminist theory, I avoided it for a very long time. Working in the public service (Immigration – another story for another time also), where I was treated as a person first and foremost and a woman second, also meant that my encounters with sexism were few and far between.
So when I realised that feminist theory and feminism were actually directly relevant to me as an individual, and that with the power of blogs I could write about what I thought and had experienced (something I’d already done on another topic – far more personal and as a diary versus an online unpacking of ideas), I thought, “Why not write about religion, and feminism and stuff” and so did. At this point, I had not yet discovered the Australian feminist community and was struggling to identify with the US feminist community because many of their experiences did not translate across to me so well.
Then I discovered the Australian and New Zealand Feminist Community (mostly through Hoyden About Town) and was blown away by the amazingness of the blog authors, their firm grasp on feminism and intersectionality, their engaging writing style and their apparent ability to pull a comprehensive post together regarding today’s issue with little (apparent) effort. I felt like the three year old at the bottom of the tree, yelling up to the bigger and older siblings, asking if I can join in too. But then that’s ok, because everyone has to start somewhere, and although I think I have good (well I think it’s good) ability to deconstruct an argument and find flaws in it (something learnt at work and through my Business Degree in parts – and my husband’s love of logic which has rubbed off a bit), I don’t feel that I am yet good at linking appropriate and relevant theory to such things. I feel like I have an idea, but I can’t fully form it because I don’t have the language for it yet.
I’m a feminist with training wheels, which is an improvement on the feminist embryo I was some years ago. So thank you dear readers for putting up with me as I figure this stuff out, and while I wish I could write as well as the people I follow and read in my RSS feed.