If you have not heard yet, I have struggled to identify with and claim a feminist perspective. My struggle was in the relationship I assumed feminism and feminists have and the narrow view that the two terms are seen as the same. In the recent weeks I have come to a different conclusion, while recognizing the intricate and complex relationship feminism and feminists have to one another.
I grew up in a household that had gender specific expectations and limitations. Still to this day I have to beg to shovel the snow or mow the lawn. On the other hand, setting the table and helping in the kitchen is still very much an expectation. And although I get frustrated I never thought my parents were creating a negative or gender inequality environment, they have raised my brother and I to the best of their ability. They allowed each of us to be the individuals we naturally are and encouraged us in any endeavour we attempted and continue to attempt.
My struggle has not been with the privileges or limitations on my abilities as a female, it has been more so of a societal expectation. There are expectations like wearing make-up, dressing a certain way, speaking in a specific manner, and participating in specific activities based on my gender. My limited understanding of feminism allowed me to believe that feminists simply fought for equality and to allow females to do what they wish to do without judgment. It is, however, so much more!
Concepts like intersectionality, rooted in Black feminism, is now my everyday language. So, while I wandered through Chapters bookstore a couple nights ago and came across C.N. Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, I had to purchase it. This book is based on Adichie’s TedX talk and in it she shares a feminist perspective from a Nigerian heritage. As soon as Adichie states “…what it shows is how that word feminist is so heavy with baggage, negative baggage: you hate men, you hate bras, you hate African culture, you think women should always be in charge, you don’t wear make-up, you don’t shave, you’re always angry, you don’t have a sense of humour, you don’t use deodorant” when she speaks about what people think about when they hear the word feminist, I knew I found a scholar who thinks about feminists in the same way as I do.
Adichie’s view on feminists created a sense of ease in my body, allowed me to understand my past employment experience through another scholars language, and has allowed me to comfortably say that I am a feminist. If you have any doubts, any questions, or are challenged by the word and association with being a feminist, I highly suggest this quick half an hour read to start your exploration and journey to understanding feminists.