The Awakening.

Many feminists, like equal rights advocate Emma Watson, speak of a decisive moment in their lives when they knew they were feminists, like seeing a  Frida Kahlo quote painted on a random wall in the city or a lecture in a class. This is called the feminist awakening, and it isn’t as eerie as its title makes it seem.Anyway, for me, it didn’t work out like that. I don’t know when or how it happened, only that it did.

I started calling myself a feminist sophomore year, and believe me; prior to then, I was an absolute heathen. I took the viewpoints of those around me and amplified (and perverted) them tenfold. I was like a small, five-foot, nicer looking Donald Trump. In retrospect, I can honestly say it was terrifying. I said things like, “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Unironically.

That, of course, isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with the conservative viewpoints I believed I had — only the delivery I used to declare them. I was an anti-gay, kind of racist twerp. And those things are not okay. Not in the slightest.

I truly couldn’t tell you when this changed, because in all honesty, I’m really not sure. I just remember suddenly not being hateful or intolerant anymore. However, I feel as if deep down, I have always somewhat thought this way, but was too afraid to admit it because of the, ahem, Red Sea that was my extremely republican environment.

I remember being eight years old, wondering why the girl has to change her name when she gets married, and how unfair that was. Then, I decided to make my future husband take my name instead.

One probable cause that screams a blaring shriek of “IT’S ME! I DID IT!” is the bond I had with my sister as a child (which is funny, because she doesn’t identify as a feminist and pokes fun at me for being the family liberal, but it’s whatever.) From her, I learned kindness and compassion, and to stand up for what is right. I learned sisterhood, not only in the same-genetics kind of way, but in the broader, “all of us identify as girls and we’re in this together” way. Though we think differently politically, I have her to thank for at least sparking the fire that was my feminist awakening.

So maybe there isn’t one moment that I can credit as The Moment I Knew™. It was a progressive shift from the time I left middle school to my fifteenth year, and it is ongoing still as I continue to learn and grow. Perhaps we can deduce that middle school was the problem, as it typically is. Either way, I can firmly stand by the statement that though I can’t owe it all to one specific moment in my life, but rather a series of definitive ones that steered me in this direction. I believe I prefer that explanation anyway.

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An Introduction.

Hi, my name is Jessica Harrell, and I am a feminist. (Hiiii, Jessica.) As this is my first blog post, I feel as though an introduction not only of myself, but of my feminism as well, is due.

I am a freshman and journalism major at the beautiful Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Even still, despite being here for over a month, saying this simple fact is ridiculously exciting. Here I am, attending the school of my dreams, pursuing my ultimate passion, in one of the best cities in the state; how could I be anything but excited?

Moreover, I am the stereotypical small-town-kid who moved hundreds of miles away from home on little more than a dream and a prayer. My hometown consists of just over 1300 people, and my graduating class was a mere fifty students, all of whom I felt close to because I had grown up with them. Another thing I grew up with was staggering amounts of conservatism and good ol’ rebel flags waving from dirty pickups; as you can infer from this blog’s title, that wasn’t exactly my thing. Situated comfortably in the Bible Belt and Red Vote Territory, Hawkins, Texas is dear to my heart, but it is no place for a bleeding heart liberal hippie like myself. So I fled.

I began identifying myself as a feminist my sophomore year in high school, and haven’t looked back since. Feminism, to me, isn’t a badge one could wear to a rally and shout bare-breasted, “MEN ARE PIGS!” Because they aren’t. Some are. But so are some women. Do you see the issue there? It simply isn’t right to use feminism as a guise to insult an entire gender. Instead, it should be used as a medium to inspire justice, equality, and respect among all identities and backgrounds. Intersectional feminism, my cup of tea in the cafe of beliefs that is life, examines and appreciates the differences between varying races, identities, cultures, religions, etc. and recognizes that what is necessary to ensure equality for one person may be more or less than what is necessary for another.

Originally, I internally debated whether a blog about feminism was a good idea. I know I’m no Neil Armstrong of feminism blogs; this isn’t uncharted territory, by any means. However, I know that feminism is uniquely different to each person who practices it, and I know that my experiences and beliefs deserve to be stated. And so, here I am, doing just that.