The word feminist has become akin to the words liberal and conservative. There is usually an adverse reaction when you tell people you're one of the three. Each title represents the kind of extremism we all like to shun, but somehow adhere to in some aspect of our lives. We prefer the terms moderate and humanist. They represent the kind of balance we all like to prescribe to, but rarely live up to. In recent years, feminism has gone mainstream or viral. Like many movements that are not a part of the mainstream political dialogue, feminists have relied on the internet to reach millennials. With the help of celebrities such as Beyonce, feminism is cooler than ever. But, millennials are smarter than jumping on the bandwagon of the "cool thing" of the moment. We shape our own ideals through our own experiences. I have been surrounded by feminist ideals my whole life. The women in my life were just as capable as the men, and they went above and beyond to serve their community through daily acts that are sometimes overlooked. Long before I knew anything about bell hooks or Audre Lorde, I knew I was an advocate for women and their strengths. I was almost always the leader on the playground and I strived to be at the top my classes. I didn't encounter feminism in a gender and sexuality class, I lived it from the time I could form a sentence. In college, I remember skipping all the courses on gender because I didn't need a class to teach me anything on that topic.
My introduction to formal feminist teachings came via Twitter. When I first joined the platform, I sought out the smartest black women I could find. Before I knew it, each day was a class on black feminist thought. It was incredible! I learned that a girl like me who held feminist ideals for as long as she could remember could also be complicit in sustaining patriarchy. I gained a deep understanding of intersectionality and, unfortunately, rape culture. I also learned one of the most important lessons of my life, I didn't have to be a strong black woman. Abandoning that trope was a departure from the legacy of my family, but an opportunity for future generations of women to be FULL human beings. I'm no expert but gaining these insights helped me navigate the world from an informed space. This is exactly what the following 7 speeches on feminism will do for you:
We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Sister Citizen: Shame Stereotypes and Black Women in America, Melissa Harris Perry
Confessions of a Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
Islamic Feminism, Malika Hamidi
Online Harassment & Misogny, Anita Sarkeesian
A Call to Men, Tony Porter
2015 Wellesley College Commencement Speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I would love to hear your thoughts on feminism, please share them below.