Friday, 13 July 2012

Working up the nerve

I'm still figuring out how exactly to tell my story in a way that will have the best possible effect. In the meanwhile...

There are no two feminists alike. Some people are fighting for the right to abortions, some people are fighting to dismantle rape culture, some people care about heterosexual relationships above all, some people are engineering a new society without gender, some people are fighting for female quotas in parliament and the board room, some people are fighting to implement the Nordic model or better laws concerning prostitution, stripping and slavery, some people want to encourage everybody to hold women to a double standard when it comes to multiple sexual experience or going make-up free. Some people are fighting to make the word vagina obsolete due to its patriarchal origins. Some people are fighting for misogyny-free porn. The rights of pregnant women, the rights of queer, disabled, racially stigmatised women, the visibility of mothers, the need to mobilise men to get onboard the gender equality movement.

Recently, I've been realising how much work needs to be done, in all those areas and more. Quite frankly, it's an overwhelming amount of work which requires a lot of energy, and so it's not surprising that many feminists would feel discouraged or daunted. As someone with depression and anxiety, sometimes I don't want to leave the house for all the misogyny I'll be exposed to, let alone challenge the deeply ingrained prejudices of people dishing it out (male of female).

At times, I am livid. How dare society be so conservative? Don't they see they are waging wars upon themselves, preventing themselves from achieving the happiness and peace of mind that they could claim as rightfully theirs? I don't understand this crazy world. At other times I am forced to understand its workings when I need to pay attention to some kind of procedure in order to increase my livelihood. At these times, previously disconnected fragments cluster together, and a new part of my experience becomes apparent. I try to communicate this for the people who are interested. I do my best to make the world a better place.

I am a bit gloomy today because I have a throat infection, but I'd just like to say that, for those of your despairing at the comprehension of how much effort is needed of us feminists - hang in there. You don't have to be an activist 24/7. You can take weeks or months off if you want to. No one will think less of you if you need to heal in order to do better work in the future. It's understandable if you can't give it your all as often as your high standards compel you to try to do - you are human, and you have the corresponding emotional needs.

These days I choose my fights carefully. I'm doing my best to accept the myriad of ways women express their sexuality in my culture and others, without judging or accusing. I'm doing my best to be compassionate and encouraging, because this is how I want to be treated in return. I want the freedom to do exactly what I decide is the best available option for me, without fearing others' judgements. Most of all, I want to find that space within myself where I can be as secure as possible.

This is why I prefer to go without a bra, don't wear make-up or high heels, don't wear revealing clothes, choose my sexual partners very carefully (I'm actually not sexually active at the moment - and happy about it), and am very picky about who I let into my social circle.

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