No Apologies

I will begin by saying that this is in reaction to a lot of things, but was finally set off by comments in Wendy’s fantastic Virgin/Whore complex journal, as well as from reading a fantastic blog entitled Yes, You Are.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a political conversation with another woman and, when we’ve gotten onto the topic of women’s rights, they say something along the lines of “Well, I believe in equality, but I’m not like a FEMINIST or anything!”

More than that, I’ve seen people use “feminist” as an insult. “Oh, you only think that because you’re a FEMINIST and you hate men!” “You only hate those books because you’re such a FEMINIST!”

Am I supposed to apologize for being a feminist? Because, you know what? Up until a year ago, I did.

Let me explain. Through high school I proudly wore the label, unashamed of my desire for equality. I was a tomboy, a drama geek, I was bad at science and math but good at english and music, I was in choir and I lifted weights. And I was a feminist.

College? College got bad. I’ve been there, talked about that. But needless to say there was a person in my life who made me feel guilty for being a feminist, for women wanting the same level of respect and rights that men had. In fact, it wasn’t until a heated argument late in our relationship over the WNBA that I realized how much I had changed. It was when he expected to say that “the women of the WNBA shouldn’t expect anyone to respect them, because why would anyone care about women’s sports?” and for me to just smile and nod that I realized what had happened.

I snapped back that it wasn’t exactly fair to expect extremely talented female athletes to just stop playing when they left college because there was nowhere else for them to go. The WNBA wasn’t formed for guys like him, it was formed because these women deserved the same rights as male players did, the right to be able to use their skills to make a living and the right to be recognized as talented PROFESSIONAL athletes.

Apparently, my “friend” was of the opinion that once a female athlete graduated from college, she should settle down and play occasionally in a neighborhood league and maybe keep her skills up for the Olympics every four years, but mostly she should just get married, have kids, and coach a local youth or high school basketball team because what achievement could be greater than that.

And hey, that’s still a hell of an achievement. Helping young athletes, male or female, to learn the game and have fun and stay fit? That’s huge. But at the same time, why should that be a woman’s only option. Why shouldn’t she be able to be a wife, a mother and a professional athlete.

Even for awhile after he and I parted ways, I didn’t call myself a feminist. Because people heard it and thought “female supremicist.” Which certainly isn’t true.

It was actually bulletproofheeb who convinced me to stop being ashamed. He told me that women like I shouldn’t run from the term “feminist,” we should embrace it. Because why should we let the crazy women who don’t want equality have it? It’s OUR word, it applies to us. And it’s time for us to take it back.

I don’t apologize for being a feminist. And no woman who truly believes in equality should, either. That word is yours, it’s ours, and letting it be redefined by women who are WRONG isn’t what we need to be doing. We need to be standing up, whether we’re wearing make-up, rolling in the dirt, raising kids, running a corporation, shooting hoops, shopping for jewlery or hell, a combination of them all, and saying “Fuck you. I’m a feminist.”

And guys? If you feel the same way, you can come too.

If you want to buy the shirt in this picture, click it to go to the website.