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Shh, Don't Say the F-Word

I'm a feminist. Man, that feels good.

I've been a feminist all my life but didn't realize it until a few weeks ago when I checked out a twenty-pound stack of books from the library (everything from Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism to Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs). Somewhere along the line something clicked; maybe it wasn't as glamorous as the whole light-bulb-over-the-head charade, but it was pretty dang life-changing.

My name's Danielle and I'm your typical high school student. Even though I suffer from over-achiever-itis my friends still know me as the nice, funny one. I believe in honesty, compassion (all of that philosophical mumbo-jumbo) and really try to be someone my parents and friends can be proud of. But sometimes even that feels like a revolutionary act when you're drowning in a sea of teens who go around disrespecting everybody within a 5-mile radius.

I've never understood any of the 'isms. You know what I'm talking about: racism, ageism, classism, sexism . . . anything that deems one group of people better than another. In my (some would say "twisted") mind, people are just people. The last time I checked we all laugh, cry, feel, and bleed (unless you're spurting some outlandish green liquid I don't know about . . .?)

When I realized I was a feminist I thought "what do I do now"? I was honestly scared to tell anybody about my new "discovery" because I wasn't sure how they'd react. The first person I told was my mom; she looked at me and said "I know that, silly. I've always known that." What a gal! She knew one of my intimate secrets before I knew about it! Next came Grandma, which worried me a little. Not only is Grandma religious, she's very outspoken. Her philosophy? "If you don't like me, too bad."

Me: "You know, Grandma . . . I'm a feminist."

Her: "Well, yeah . . . I've always said that. I will never let a man control me."

But why did I have to feel this way? Like I was unearthing a dirty secret? Why am I scared for the future, of what people will think of me? The fact is, today's world is dangerous for teenagers like me (and you, if you're reading this) because the "f-word" is marred by too many stereotypes to count.

Our latest assignment in English, for example, was to debate the topic "should women be treated differently than men?". After several girls dropped the "f-bomb" one of my (male) classmates blurted out: "Feminism? Isn't that where guys, like, put on girl clothes?"

You can't see me, but I'm cringing! It seems like only a miniscule fraction of people know what feminism actually is, and the rest look at things through media-eyes, associating all feminists with radical, hairy, man-hating lesbians (I'm not putting down homosexuality, but you know the stereotype I'm talking about). In fact, my favorite quote comes from Pat Robertson, host of the religious variety show The 700 Club: "[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

In the words of my 8th grade English teacher: Really, Pat? Really? If this is the crap I'm going to have to deal with, looks like I'm going to have to grow some thicker skin ASAP.

All pig-headed, right-wing nutjobs aside, I am absolutely in love with feminism. To me, it's not so much a philosophy as it is incredible people standing up for the rights we, as humans, inherently deserve. And if feminists are simply those who believe in "the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes," wouldn't that make most people feminists (even if they don't like the label)? That's a reassuring thought.

So I wanted to write a blog about something I actually understand. I'm not an award-winning physicist or world-renowned psychologist (yet!), but what I do understand is the stuff swishing around in my noggin. I want to write about life from my perspective - a feminist teen just trying to make sense of the world - and hopefully appeal to others who feel the same way (but who haven't necessarily found their "feminist outlet").

In the end, I decided to call this blog Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist:

Experimentations referring to the fact that life is one big experiment. We do what we think is right, hope for the best, get knocked on our behinds most of the time, but inevitably pick ourselves back up. Ah, life.

Teenage referring to the fact that I am technically (i.e. biologically) still a kid. So if I make mistakes, complain, or go a little over-board in my rants, blame it on my age. I don't have to go all "Yoda" until I'm at least twenty.

Finally, Feminist referring to the fact that I've finally found my niche. I was born to be one of those "annoying" girls who stands up for what she believes in. I was born to help other girls realize their potential, gain confidence, and ultimately love themselves. And I was born to (please prepare yourself for the corniest statement of the century) make the world a better place.

You can check out "Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist" here



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