I’ve always been prone to being evangelical about nearly everything I have managed to be interested in, or feel any kind of passion about (astrology, Donny Osmond, Apple products, cilantro), and this has caused me to burn out with nearly every possible obsession.
I’m still bemusedly interested in astrology, but it’s more of a party or social thing (“You must be a Gemini!” “How did you know?” [A bunch of astro-ramblings for the sake of conversation and making myself look more interesting]), and I could give or take Donny Osmond these days even though I look back fondly on my 12-year-old crush, I’m about to buy a PC laptop, and, well, I can’t imagine a time in my life when I will not love cilantro. But you get the point.
I think that the same thing has happened to me with feminism. I was so utterly opposed to the idea, then enthusiastically on board, and now, I’m fizzling out.
When I was a kid, I would often notice and point out various sexist behavior among my peers, and do my best to prove that I could do anything that boys could. Growing up, that meant that I desperately wanted to wrestle in high school (I only made it so far as cheerleading for the wrestling team), that I took creatine supplements in high school to both physically and visibly accelerate my muscle growth (something that only the male athletes did), and strived to be the first female in the Geek Squad at the Best Buy store where I briefly worked (I did manage that one– poorly). I also held on to the short-lived fantasy of being the first female president. I quickly decided that that goal would require far too much effort, and I wasn’t sure I would ever want that type of responsibility. (The creatine had a lasting effect, too– my legs still have an unnaturally (for me) large amount of muscle for someone who is nearly sedentary for most of her life.)
My introduction to modern feminism came a couple of years ago, when my partner at the time told me he was transgender. It was a new concept to me, and it made me think a lot about gender, and how I felt about it. Around that same time, I was friends with someone who linked to many articles from Feministe on her LiveJournal. At the time, while still sorting through my own thoughts on feminism and gender in general, I found most of the posts on that blog to be infuriatingly over-the-top, and their bloggers to be proud victims of anything they could possibly think of.
I would often check the blog, sometimes daily, just to find things to make the subject of my own angry, ranting blogs, and try to counter their arguments. I would comment on the posts in what most people who frequented the blog would consider to be a trollish sort of tone, and get repeatedly insulted and condescended to.
Eventually, I started to “come around,” and once I ignored the majority of the commentariat, I started to understand the position from which the authors were writing. Because of my circumstances at the time, I also appreciated that they often address issues in the trans and GLBT communities. I was, essentially, a convert.
These days, I seem to have come full circle. I am not anti-feminist anymore, but I read the articles that are posted with a critical eye that I didn’t have a year ago. I can no longer claim to be on board with the groupthink style of the mainstream feminist blogs, and, similarly, I cannot tolerate the rhetoric and regurgitated, presumptuous and misguided theories of MRA-types, either. In fact, I’ve almost entirely eliminated “feminist” from my list of personal identifiers, but still hold on, just a little, hoping that other people will get why it was ever important in the first place, and how it still is, and that reacting to only radical feminists’ perspective is not productive for anyone.
Hopefully my future posts on this blog will reflect these new ideas accurately and not come across as either constant criticism, or blind faith.