As featured by Atomic Tampon.
You might think joining the feminist movement is a leap only the boldest people make. It gets a lot of backlash in real life and online. Feminists are the kind of people that on the extreme end are met with violent hatred and on the self-controlled end are met with a sense of uncomfortableness. But I became a feminist when I was at my most vulnerable. If I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have the mental strength I do today. So in my eyes feminism saved me.
Most women experience sexism. Studies have found that 80% of women have been sexually harassed and there are many more iterations of sexism. A worrying amount experience sexism in a way that traumatises them for the rest of their lives. I am one of those women. I am one of the almost one in three women who experience domestic abuse. That is the life event that left me desperate for the support feminism provided.
Not all feminists have a personal experience with sexism. Men are very welcome feminists after all. But I would say a significant amount of feminists who are women have. It doesn’t fit with the normal expectations for women to be as outspoken as feminists are. Although once you have realised there are lots of serious issues in the world, many of them depending on enforced gender differences, you just can’t help but break the mould. You need a group to do it with.
After getting out of the abusive relationship I was in, I needed to find a group who understood me and I needed to regain a purpose for my life that hadn’t just crumbled around me – it had exploded. I felt alienated as I thought domestic abuse didn’t happen to ordinary people and there must be something wrong with me. I felt sick of the shame that comes along with being a victim. I was angry and fed up with the widespread denial of gender violence.
I didn’t feel like any group attempted to accept, understand and fight against gender violence like feminists. That was what I needed. Once something traumatic happens to you, you can’t ignore the fact that it could happen again and is happening to so many other people already.
Now feminism as a group is pretty vague. It’s not like all feminists know each other. Despite the conspiracies, we don’t have a headquarters where we meet to discuss how we are going to take over the world. Ultimately it is a label people put on themselves, some more genuinely than others. For me, it was and is empowering to fight for myself and people like me. Feminist books, articles and social media posts often make me feel seen and challenge me at the same time.
It is the fight for change that keeps me going even on the days where it feels like no one cares about the patterns of sexism running throughout society. I have often been overwhelmed by the concept of misogyny being an inevitable burden women have to carry while its existence is denied and explained away, making our struggle our own fault.
Feminism isn’t perfect because it is made up of people who usually have good intentions but good intentions aren’t always enough. Other forms of discrimination have kept women out. All women need to be included in all feminist campaigning or it is not truly a fight for women.
Feminism makes me feel seen, heard and supported in this fight for freedom from misogyny that too many people refuse to even acknowledge. Feminists have fought before me and feminists fight alongside me to create the future we all deserve. Without that focus, I would be lost in my trauma.
I discuss more about why I’m a feminist in this article.