Young Feminism: The Fire Inside Me
In fourth grade I had my first dose of feminism. I had read an article in a local feminist magazine that spoke of the expected roles and stereotypes of a modern female. The issues they were talking about bothered me. I could feel it.
In my elementary years I attended a Catholic school and was well aware of the male dominance in the church. So when I was nine I said that I wanted to be a priest. I spoke to my teacher about this. At first she sort of dismissed it as a silly wish of a fourth grader. But when I asked her why I just couldn't do it like any other boy could she just sighed and shook her head. She didn't know.
I now realize that I didn't actually at all aspire to become a priest. (Even this early my religion had made me sick with its programed thoughts and constant male superiority, but that's another story.) It was actually the feminist fire being lit inside of me. In fifth grade that fire continued to grow. My teacher assigned two friends and myself to a history project about women's rights. I could tell that my partners didn't admire the women who fought and spoke out for our rights as much as I did. I enveloped myself in the project, doing most of the work, unnecessary research, and staying up late reading books and articles about great feminists in history. When we presented the project I spoke my words with enthusiasm and true belief in them. It made me feel strong and good to be a girl.
Today, I am in sixth grade. The fire inside of me is burning more intensely than ever and it's growing and changing everyday. I see things that make me mad and upset me. All the time fellow classmates wow me with their non-existentant opinions on things that I have been thinking strongly about for years. It scares me to think that these are the kind of views that have been constructed. I'm afraid to show people my true colors because of discrimination and stereotypes. I've only legitimately told one person about my being a feminist. I just don't want to and can't deal with being assumed a lesbian, man-hater, etc. because middle school is hell anyway. Their opinions (the ones that haven't fully developed into their own honest-to-goodness beliefs) are to reject the different. That's the way it is with people in general, and why there are these issues.
I don't want to hear how wrong or weird they think I might be, and that's why I feel obligated to keep my views to myself. I don't want to have to be ashamed of being a feminist. The truth is I'm afraid to be put into a distorted category of what it "means." I hide my journals. I only visit feminist blogs and websites late into the night. I cry and mourn for the rape victims that are blamed and attacked only alone. I only scream at the world for the sexualization of females privately. And I only speak out anonymously. It pains me to see the world encased in the unrealistic belief that women and girls are limited. You can't sit around and accept it. You've got to woman up and change the future by inspiring feminism in younger people. I can see the effects the rules and their exceptions for the men paving roads in the minds of children. Today I've decided to refuse to be judged by my body parts and show people who I really am and build the feminism fire. And that is exactly what I plan on doing.
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