Monday, April 4, 2011

Blogging and feminism

One of the reasons Michael Freeman and I wanted to develop a blog for the Office of Diversity Initiatives is because we know how many students read and write blogs, and how social media is a part of most students' every day life. Nearly anyone can call themselves a writer these days, and it's up for debate whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. The good part is definitely apparent: the amount of ways there are to have your voice heard are becoming innumerable.

Many of our students have something to say, or, some things to say, and we want them all to be heard.

Kevin Alvarez, a UCF alum that left quite the impression on campus, writes El SueƱo de Bolivar.

His piece, "Why I am a Latino Feminist," got us all talking in the office. (By 'us all,' I mean Michael and myself, with the occasional appearance of Heather Graves).

It read like a challenge to me. Why am I a feminist? I claim the label, I talk the talks, I do activism. But when was the last time I explained to someone why I do what I do?

(I am a feminist. It's because I (we) am told to smile (my face just looks like that), because I (we) am expected to take it lying down, to expect abuse, to present myself (ourselves) as flawless, happy, aiming to please, codependent, not-quite-successful, silenced, and on and on and on. Since I was a girl, I've had this anger and dissatisfaction in me that came from not being the picture of femininity that was thrust upon me. It was a dissatisfaction only eased by growing up and meeting peers that pushed back against it, that were glorious and impertinent and fat and queer and angry and loud.

I am a feminist because my mother struggled for years with the abuse that was heaped upon her as a child from an angry "father" and a mad mother. I am a feminist because my father's masculinity was never enough, never good strong secure enough and their struggles are mine. I am a feminist because I want to know where and why we learn these definitions of femininity and masculinity and why they are so hurtful when they go unexamined? Because everything that's felt right in my life has been questioned and criticized by the more powerful, the more wealthy, the more more more. Because of the injustices that creep up from every crack in the sidewalk, every polluted river, every florescent light bearing down upon a dirty mirror in a "Ladies" bathroom.

All of this and I still struggle to answer this question every day. Why am I a feminist?)

So. I want to hear you, too. What are your venues, your blogs, tumblrs, where do you speak out? What do you have to say?

Why are you a feminist? (Why are you a womanist? Queer, activist, happy, alive, miserable, angry? why are you not?)

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