But You Don't Act Like A Feminist?

High school is a magical place. Throw a bunch of horny teenagers who are trying to figure out who the hell they are into a building that looks more like an insane asylum circa 1960 than a place of eduction. Add an average of 4 hours of sleep to trigonometry and there you have it: a group of completely accepting, totally open minded individuals.

Except not at all.

To some extent, I can understand why there are so many teenagers who are pretty close-minded. For one, we're young. We haven't had a lot of life experiences or been exposed to that much (relatively). Of course that's not always true, but there are indeed some teens who are content to consume all their information about life from MTV, World of Warcraft and Perez Hilton. I have also met many a teen happy to regurgitate what their parents have shoved down their throats. And really, for those people, I am happy to show them a different perspective, perhaps change the way they think about certain things...like feminism, to just randomly pull an example. It's the people who really should know better - the ones that claim to be open minded and accepting - that truly get me.

What started this rant was an incident that occurred today in this aforementioned magical place, known to many as high school. I was talking to a guy in my grade who I probably hadn't had an actual conversation with since middle school. He had heard about my interest in feminism and we began to talk about it. Now, he's a pretty liberal, open-minded guy. I recall his reaction of disgust to the many racist and sexist jokes so favored by many of our peers.  So when he stated, "but you don't really act like a feminist," I took a huge step back and shouted, "WHAT THE HELL?" In my mind, of course, but it was very dramatic nevertheless.

Now, of course, as far as my guy classmates' opinions on feminism, especially feminism and me, go, this is a pretty mild one. Some may even question why it bothers me at all. But really? What does a feminist act like, pray tell? And how am I failing to live up to par?

"Oh, you know," he said, "You dress like all the other girls.  I don't know, I guess you just don't bring it up that much."

Okay, here's the thing. Feminism is not the thing that completely embodies who I am as a person. I am a feminist, yes, but feminism is something that I believe in and support. It does not shape every facet of my being. Believe it or not, I have had other experiences in my life separate from feminism that shape who I am, what I say, what I do, how I dress, etc. Of course, feminism has shaped me in a huge way, and does effect the way I think and act. But the fact that I call myself a feminist does not mean that every single thing that I project into the world will be tinged with feminist ideology.

Ergo - I don't exactly stomp around school screaming, "STOP OBJECTIFYING ME!"

What I mean to say is, people believe in Christianity. Christianity, as I imagine is true with most other religions, encompasses religious ideology as well as values, a certain lifestyle, and views on issues. But do we really say, oh that's THE Christian, or question Christians when they don't project an image of Christianity into the world through everything they do?

And yet I'm considered Julie, THE feminist.

Maybe this is one reason why people are so hesitant to identify as feminists. People have this idea of what a feminist looks and acts like and feel that they don't fit that one mold, so therefore they couldn't possibly be one. Well, news flash: feminism is not a set mold you  fit into. You don't decide to be a feminist, then become a stereotype. Feminism is just a culmination of beliefs, your beliefs, that are just part of what make you an individual.

I am a feminist, but I am not a stereotype.

More articles by Category: Feminism
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Discrimination, High school



Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
Sign up for our Newsletter

Learn more about topics like these by signing up for Women’s Media Center’s newsletter.