I Am a Feminist

I am a feminist because girls can be whatever they want to be.

And I was a little girl once too. I was short, with cropped hair, and optimistic about the things that I wanted to be. I had dreams, and I shared when people asked me about them.

When I was seven, I wanted to be an Archeologist. I saw myself as a more boring version of Lara Croft and a more responsible one of Indiana Jones. I’d brush dirt from bones, contribute to history museums, and one day I would discover something that nobody else had. I dreamt that I’d be out on a dig, talking with a colleague, and we’d stumble upon the corpse of Gilgamesh himself. Why not? I was seven. Anything was possible in dreams—and dreams were free to have.

When I was ten, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. I was growing up by the sea, and I was surrounded by the marine wildlife that I fell in love with. I’d go to Australia, visit the Great Barrier Reef, and discover a species of fish that I could name after myself. I’d fight BP with my bare fists if I had to. I’d advocate for the endangered turtles, and I’d set up hatcheries where their young would be safe from predators. I was ten, and I was concerned. I wanted to help—and my mind let me believe that I could make a difference.

Then I turned thirteen. And, suddenly, people weren’t all that interested anymore. Suddenly, it was all about learning how to do this, or learning how to do that—acting lady like and being told how to dress or how to talk or how to sit and how to walk. It was frustrating.

You get interested in Politics and Economics, you gain an opinion and a stance regarding certain things, and people just seem to listen less.

I’m Caucasian. I come from a good, well-off, family. I was able to practice a freedom that not many girls had, and yet, you know what? I had to compromise too. I had to deal with stereotypes too. I couldn’t join the boys mucking around because girls weren’t supposed to, and I was supposed to like romance novels over sci-fi because that was just the way it was. Action movies? Certainly not. Rom-Coms, Chick Flicks, that was my demographic.

Except, it really wasn’t.

And at fourteen, I got to thinking, that I was still one of the lucky ones. Because I could still be Lara Croft or Jane Goodall if I wanted to be. I could prove them wrong because I was born into a family and an environment that nurtured that. But what about those other girls? Those that are forced to cook and clean and aren’t even allowed to go to school or express themselves?

In that grand scale, suddenly I felt horrible. I felt guilty. And I decided then and there that I was going to fight for that right. Girls were just as smart, just as good, and just as strong-willed as any other person. All girls. They aren’t just fragile, glass, dolls.

They were capable human beings too.

I am a feminist because boys don’t have to be strong all the time.

And I have a little brother that I cared for when he was a baby up until he was eight. He was happy, active, and as spritely as any other boy was supposed to be.

When he was a toddler, he cried all the time. When he was hungry, when he needed a diaper change, and even when I took away a toy he wanted to play with. Of course, like most kids, he grew out of that constant crying. But, then, I hear other people start calling my brother gay because he cries. I hear other people telling him to man up, as if indicating that acting anything other than macho was wrong.

When he turned six he got into video games. Cars. He was such a boy and I felt happy that he was exploring his interests. But, then, I kind of longed for the days when his four-year-old self would help me brush my barbie’s hair because he liked more than I did. When we’d plug in the animal adventure games instead of the racing ones, because who could ever tire of cute animals? He used to tune in to Winx just as much as he did to Ben 10 and I never minded, because I liked those shows too.

He gets it from school—he gets it at home. It’s tough for boys too. Because, while girls will always have the excuse of being girls (as if it were an inconvenience) for their emotional outbursts, people will not always give men that same benefit.

I was thirteen when I saw my brother begin to stop being himself. I was thirteen when, suddenly, that open little boy began to suppress himself.

He didn’t cry when he missed me because people would say he was weak. He wouldn’t even tell me that he missed me because, apparently, that wasn’t something that boys did. He used to hug me, kiss my cheek, and I used to do the same without getting any other reaction than a giggle.

And, yes, it could be because he’s growing up, but, then? Why does he double guess himself when he reaches over to grasp my hand? Why does he hesitate to tell me that he doesn’t want me to go?

He’s young. Impressionable and easily misguided. And he’s surrounded by people who tell him to act and be a certain way too. I hated it. I hated watching him conform to it.

I was thirteen and I cried because I didn’t want my brother to have to hide away his feelings if he was hurting. I was fourteen and I cried because my brother refused to tell me anything that had to do with how he was feeling—how he needed me. I was fifteen when I cried because I couldn’t see my brother anymore, and I don’t know if anyone was letting him do any of that.

I regretted so much when it came to my brother, and I vowed that I wouldn’t let any other little boy go through the same thing. They were people too—that hurt, that cried, and that needed a shoulder to lean on when things got tough.

They were emotional human beings too.

I am a feminist because people turn on each other.

I never liked dresses, make-up, or getting dolled up. I preferred jeans, lounging in sweats, and tying my hair up in buns to keep the strands out of my face. And you know what? There are a lot of people like me. And yet—and yet they can’t seem to get along with those that aren’t.

You have girls whispering slut behind another’s back because she just happens to be very active with her interest in the opposite or same sex. You have girls judging other girls for being stereotypical when there’s nothing wrong with naturally being that way. You have girls that start claiming they should this and that, and other girls that claim the opposite.

You have boys high-fiving and each other for being a heart breaker. Then you have boys going and calling men that want to wait fag—as if it were horrible to be a decent human being. You have boys getting into sports and getting congratulated, while frowning and judging those that get into art. Worst of all? What’s wrong if you’re a boy who happens to like boys too? Why do those kinds of boys get beat up in an ally?

And I just came to a realization that it shouldn’t have to matter because we’re all human beings and we all bleed and breathe. Why do we have to be a certain way? Why can’t we just be ourselves?

I am a feminist because I fight for the right of expression.

I am a feminist because I believe that people are free to be who they are. They shouldn’t have to deal with other people telling them how to be and how to act, because why should another person have to dictate who you have to be?

I am a feminist because I am a human being, and I care about each and every human life.

And you know what? I’ve never regretted it.

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