Courtney Martin and Courtney Sullivan just released an anthology called Click: Moments We Became Feminists. And Martin wrote about her experience over at American Prospect.
This inspired me to think about my own "click" moment. When exactly did I become a feminist? This identity which I hold VERY near to my heart took a while to warm up to. Me, circa high school era, like many feminists (and people in general), used to have a very negative picture of the word feminism. I bought into the hype surrounding its negativity. Feminists were man haters, they didn't shave, they hated bras, and they were all around irrational.
I was none of those things, so I wasn't a feminist, or so I thought. But I did aspire to be a strong, independent woman. I never saw a future for myself where I would be subservient to a man or depend on one in anyway. I saw a future where I would accomplish great things, make an impact in my world, and maybe...someday...if I got around to it, get married and have kids. I admired women leaders both in my personal life and the world at large.
And in this era of my life (16-18) I started to see sexism all around me. And it started to piss me off.
But I wasn't a feminist...right?
When the time came to go to college, I decided to major in Political Science...not because I cared about Political Science, but because it was what one majored in when one was ultimately law school bound. (Tangent...I never went to law school of course, thank God, but I ended up falling madly in love with Political Science for what it was on its own.) Law school seemed logical for me...I wanted to make a lot of money and I loved to talk.
Well in my first year at Butler I had the honor of taking Dr. Terri Jett's American Politics class. And something happened in that class that changed my life and my identity forever. The class, as most PoliSci classes, was very discussion heavy. The focus of our discussions were usually based upon how American society is experienced very differently by people from different backgrounds. At this time, I found my perfect opportunity to talk about how I felt about all the sexism I had seen and lived. I talked about it...and it was validated.
Around this time, I started seeing people, normal people, around campus wearing "this is what a feminist looks like" buttons. Hmm...interesting...
One day in class we were asked to break into groups and discuss our reading. So we did, and through the discussion one of my classmates, Kara, mentioned to me that I should really take the Gender Studies 101 class. She told me all about it and how she really thought I would like the class and might even consider the minor once I had taken it. Now Kara probably doesn't remember me at all...but do I ever remember that day!
This was around the time we were scheduling our classes for the fall, so I did sign up for it. That first day, with in the first five minutes, the professor, Dr. Ann Savage, asked how many of us identified as feminists...I didn't raise my hand.
That would be the last day of my life that I held onto the reservations of not identifying as a feminist. It became very clear to me that I *was* a feminist, and to deny it was to only further the negative stereotypes surrounding feminism. Reading the book for that 101 class, Feminism is For Everybody by the amazing bell hooks cemented it all.
I was a feminist. I am a feminist.
The realization led to endless amazing things for me. I picked up the Gender Studies minor. In my service learning class with Dr. Margaret Brabant, I asked if there was a women or girls' organization I could work with. She found me a connection to a girls organization in town. The service learning turned into an internship which turned into a job. This job led me to realize that the nonprofit world is where my heart is and I dropped my law school aspirations in favor of a Masters of Public Affairs Nonprofit Management. And when Ronald and I moved to Austin, it all led me to another amazing feminist nonprofit, and fulfilling work that feeds my soul.
There's my click.