First, let me introduce myself. My name is Camille, I’m 23 years old, and for the first 22 years of my life, I considered myself to be an anti-feminist. Strange, I know. My old college roommates can probably recall many conversations where I would start off saying, “I’m not a feminist BUT…” and then start to rant about how it’s ridiculous women aren’t paid the same wages as men for the same jobs, how absurd it is that women are often discouraged from re-entering the workforce after they have children, how upsetting it is that women are often blamed for their own rapes and assaults. I know now that I was always a feminist at heart, I just didn’t truly understand what feminism meant. Growing up, feminism was a dirty word, a word spat out angrily by my parents in reference to women they did not like and movements they could not agree with. “Women going to college to get a degree? How absurd! Women go to college to get married, that’s the whole point of higher education! Those darn feminists are trying to ruin families. Who will think of the children!” I grew up thinking that feminists were bra-burning, man-hating, angry, shrill women, always asking for some sort of social justice I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. Weren’t women in the US better off than women in other countries? Why did they need to petition for rights? I had certainly never felt disenfranchised for being of the female sex, what were these women whining about?
It seems funny how little I understood then about a movement I now embrace with pride. I’m not sure if my awakening started when I took an American poetry class and feel in love with Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich. If it was when I poured over Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”, or if it was when I was told by the ward clerk of my small, LDS student ward that I had “spent too much of the budget” on my wildly successful Relief Society activity. I’m not sure if I can pin down the exact moment when I went from being the girl who said, “I’m not a feminist BUT…” to proudly rocking my “Smash the Patriarchy” tank top at the gym; all I know is that now, I’m a feminist and I can never go back to my old ways of thinking; the paradigm shift has happened, and I’m better for it.
My goal with these blog posts is to shed light on what it means to be a feminist in a time where, on the surface, things look good for women. We can vote, have jobs and own property. Birth control and access to other reproductive health services are being made readily available. Third-Wave Feminism is tricky to navigate but it is very much worth the fight. I’m excited to be writing this weekly blog post. I hope I can help buoy up my fellow feminists with positive and thought provoking posts, and maybe help a few more men and women join the cause.
I will leave you with the words of the amazing and powerful, Gloria Steinem. “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.”