Wednesday, June 30, 2010

She lived happily (and single) ever after . . .

Congratulations! You were lucky enough to win a spot on Family Feud (back when the show was still cool because Richard Karn rocked the house). You’re only a few points away from victory, and if you get this next question right you will have done enough to send the other team packing. You brace yourself, feeling your hand creep closer to the buzzer, lips tingling with the anticipation of your next answer...

“Name a movie that ends with a woman falling in love with - or perhaps marrying - the man of her dreams.”

Pfft. Forget that. You’ve already won.

Why does it seem like 99.9% of books, movies, TV shows, songs, and [insert example here] culminate with the female lead falling in love, finding a boyfriend, getting married, or some variance of the three? I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and popular culture seems to think a woman’s ultimate goal is to wait patiently until she's swept away by her "prince charming." And while I, too, am a huge fan of love (at least the idea of it), I don’t see why that has to be our main objective in life.

In fact, when I tried to think of a movie that didn’t end with the immensely overrated "and they (implying a man and woman) lived happily ever after," I nearly gave myself a hernia. (It wasn't until after the dizzyness wore off that my brain kindly reminded me that I had seen such a movie. Nice.)

About a month ago my parents went to Canada to celebrate their twenty-something wedding anniversary (did you know Ontario is the new City of Love?), leaving me to defend the homestead. I ended up spending the weekend with one of my best friends, and in our boredom rented a movie called Whip It on On-Demand.

Whip-It is honestly one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. It stars Ellen Page (the lovable, smart-mouthed heroine of Juno) as Bliss Cavender, a quirky misfit who, like many of us, hasn't found her niche. Bliss's mother, a mail-carrier and former beauty pageant dynamo, expects her daughter to be the same southern belle she had been in her youth, and as you can imagine this creates more than a few problems. In a classic scene of juicy rebellion, Bliss shows up to a pageant with dyed-blue hair. Aww yeah.

The theme of the movie "be your own hero" isn't exactly original, but I found myself intrigued by the subculture of roller derby women Bliss eventually finds herself connecting with (and with names like Maggie Mayhem, Smashley Simpson, Iron Maven, and Rosa Sparks, can you blame me?). These women are tough, fearless, and unique (to say the least), and the young teen is soon welcomed into their ranks as Babe Ruthless, discovering a talent - and toughness - she never knew she had.

So, why did I bring this up?

You see, Bliss eventually falls for the lead singer/guitarist of a punk rock band, Oliver. They hit it off, he's great, he's cute, we're subject to several mushy scenes of their budding relationship . . .

But when Mr. Cool leaves to go on tour things turn ugly. First, he doesn't answer Bliss's calls when she actually needs him (i.e. after storming out of her house after a particularly nasty argument with her mother). Then, in an act that would win my dad's coveted "Dumbass Award," he gets involved with a new girl, and has the audacity to give her a shirt that Bliss had given to him.

And of course, he posts this all online. Ugh.

To make a long story short, Bliss realized what a complete jerk Oliver was. Sure, she had her moments of devastation (can you blame her?), but in the end she didn't need him to realize her own happiness. She went on to kick butt, eventually becoming this insane roller derby prodigee, and that is how the movie ended. Not with a cliche kiss, or a boyfriend, or a soulmate. And definitely not with a wedding.

If you missed my point, this whole obsession with finding "prince charming" has got to stop, ladies. Love will happen in time (if that's what you really want), but tying your own happiness, worth, and sense of accomplishment to whether or not you have a boyfriend is just ridiculous. Don't you think it's time we start making our own happy endings?

Want to check out the official trailer for "Whip It"? (You're welcome.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

This is What a Feminist Looks Like

I'm still waiting to get my hands on one of those uber-cool "this is what a feminist looks like" t-shirts. Whoever came up with that slogan was a freaking genius; it just speaks to the fact anybody can be a feminist. There are so many idiotic ideas about what feminists are "supposed" to look like (I'm sure you can think of more than a few), that when people see glitzy celebrities like America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Michael Moore, Margaret Cho, Larry David, Whoopi Goldberg, or Camryn Manheim (shall I go on?) wearing the feminist name loud and proud it just blows their minds.

Okay, I wouldn't really call Michael Moore "glitzy."

But you get my point. Celebrities aren't always the greatest representation of us "little people," but it's still amazing that concern for gender equality can be seen across the board; in other words you don't have to be a middle-class white woman to be a feminist.

One of my pet peeves is when people assume feminist ideology is a simple, black-and-white construct. If you're a feminist you do this. If you're not a feminist you don't do that. When in reality feminism is as diverse as the people who claim the name. As with any eclectic group you're going to have your radicals (women who truly do hate men, refuse to wear make-up, etc.), your wannabes (people who like to call themselves feminists, but don't step up when it counts), and there are even relatively new groups called lipstick feminists, stiletto feminists, and (horrifically enough) slut feminists who think dressing sexy is the ultimate expression of female empowerment. My point is, you can't make assumptions about an entire group of people just because they call themselves something. So instead of assuming that I hate men (yes, I have actually been accused of hating men), take a minute to really hear me out. Look at what I am fighting for. Me. Danielle. Not those so-called "feminists" on TV.

It's time for a mini-rant!
Right: The most attractive Hooters waitress . . .

Okay, I can't hold it in. I gotta talk about those so-called "lipstick feminists." They are pretty much the bane of my existence.

They are the "barista girls" who wear skimpy clothes to sell more coffee down the street; women who appear on Hooters commercials and claim that being (sexed-up, scantily-clad) waitresses kick-started their careers as school teachers, doctors, and lawyers (I kid you not!); and girls who audition to be the next Pussycat Doll because they want to be "inspirations" to little girls everywhere - puke!

These women are just trying to justify the fact that they're portraying themselves as sex objects by saying women have "earned" the right to be as uninhibited as they want, and that it's "empowering" for girls to be completely free with their bodies. I am all for body-confidence, but these women are kidding themselves. Nobody's looking at a Hooters girl and thinking "wow, what an amazing woman! Look how confident she is in those booty shorts - I really respect her!" I think we both know what people are really thinking.

It just frustrates the heck out of me because here we are, trying to be smart and strong and outspoken and progressive and hard-working, and these women are making us look like materialistic, bimbo-ic (is that even a word?), brainless objects!

Well, I'll tell you what. I'm going to make it big someday, baby, and I'll do it with my (uber-cool feminist) shirt on!

Check out the video that inspired this post:

Should men and women be treated equally?

"Turns Out You Gals Are Useful After All!" *shakes head*
The question “should women be treated differently than men?” has unnerved people for centuries, but it’s become especially prominent since the women’s rights movement of the 1960’s when women proved (at least on a more public scale) that hey, we’re people too. But in order to analyze such a broad question we have to break it down, because in its natural state it could be interpreted (or misinterpreted) a thousand different ways. For the sake of my argument, I’m going to assume the question states: “should women be treated differently, given unequal opportunities, and/or succumb to gender roles strictly because they are female?” And to that my answer is heck no.

People have always had the uncanny ability to discriminate against each other. Our foremothers and forefathers were guilty of it just as we’re guilty of it today, even if we don’t like to admit it, or like to pretend that we’re all upstanding citizens. But when you get an eclectic group of people together a hierarchy is almost always going to form, and usually for the most ridiculous reasons. After Africans were imported to North America to be used on cotton plantations and for other drudge-labor, white folks got it in their heads that these “barbarians” were inferior intellectually, morally, and spiritually. The same thing happened with the influx of people from Asia during the mid-1800’s; obviously because they looked different they were bound to cause trouble, rape our daughters, and be useless for anything other than getting out mustard stains at the local Laundromat (please note the sarcastic inflection of my voice). Adolf Hitler is another fine example of someone who had a seriously skewed perception of life’s pecking order; he believed that Jewish people were to blame for everything from economic troubles to Germany’s defeat in World War I. All of these examples were horrible shadows in our past - the types of things that, every once in a while, make me ashamed to be an American - but we can’t forget that sexism, one of the oldest forms of discrimination, is still alive and kicking.

In the beginning, when population densities were low and people spent most of their time hunting and gathering just to survive, there was general equality between the sexes because everybody played an important role in society. If men stopped hunting, everybody would starve. Likewise, if women didn’t forage for berries and other vegetation people would still be in trouble, because finding enough meat was never a sure thing. It wasn’t until the advent of sedentary agriculture that people were “freed up” from their responsibilities and left to pursue other fields. But when men and women inevitably filtered into different roles - men busying themselves crafting weapons, hunting, and going to war; women with tending fields and taking care of children - a clear pecking order was in the works. And despite the fact that more than 99 percent of male and female genetic coding is exactly the same (Brizendine), women are still feeling the repercussions of that ancient hierarchy, haunted by the term coined by Simone de Beauvoir nearly four decades ago: “the second sex.”

One of the most frustrating parts of being a woman is being talked about - or rather, defined - by our gender. As a sixteen-year-old high school girl I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people (mainly guys) saying “girls are all prissy, high maintenance, emotional, and gold-diggers.” Since when does the fact that I have “unmentionables” determine what kind of person I am, whether I’m strong or unstable, intelligent or ditzy? Frankly, it’s insulting. And it’s no better than assuming that all African Americans steal things, that all Asian people are bad drivers, or that all guys want only “one thing.” You cannot take a group of people (and mind you, there are roughly 3 zillion women in the world) and pin specific traits on them. It doesn’t work that way. And assuming that a sixteen-year-old boy has been lucky enough to meet even 0.00001% of the world’s female population, who is he to judge what trait’s all women have or not have?

The expectations for women in our society are pretty much set in stone. As women, we are expected to be pretty, delicate, soft, and cooperative. We’re not usually expected to speak our minds; it’s much more convenient if we’re seen but not heard. We’re taught from a young age that girlhood revolves around shopping, clothes (Target was recently blasted for selling padded bras meant for six-year-olds), makeup, and boys, and that our talents are much better spent in nurturing others than in scientific or technical fields that might take us away from our domestic duties. Marya Mannes may have said it best: “Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.” In short, there is so much pressure on girls to fit into this Barbie-like mold of what it means “to be a woman,” that it can be incredibly damaging to our self-esteem and peace of mind.

One of the most poignant aspects of our so-called “womanhood” is how much of our net worth is derived from how we look. There’s a two-to-one ratio of depression in women compared to men, but these trends don’t surface until girls reach early adolescence (Brizendine) when pressures to be “hot,” “sexy,” “desirable,” and maybe even “easy” reach their peak. During this tender age, if a girl is a tomboy, has no desire to talk about boys, would rather boldly argue her points than sit passively, or in any way goes against the “norms” for girls her age, she may have a really hard time fitting in with her peers.

But this isn’t just a women’s issue, this affects men as well. Think about it: with pressures to date, get good grades, carve out a reputation, and do otherwise unsavory activities, adolescence is tough enough. But when people don’t fit the “mold” that society has deemed appropriate for them (a role that’s existed since the dawn of time), that can be devastating. For example, do you honestly see a boy who would rather knit than play football getting a whole lot of respect from his peers? Of course not, because boys are supposed to be macho, tough-as-nails, adrenaline-pumping machines, not spineless, flower-sniffing twinkle toes . . . Do you get my point? These stereotypes are killing us. And if men and women are treated differently (i.e. unequally) based solely on their genders, this only reinforces gender roles which are damaging to all parties involved.

A sad reality for women today is that even if they encompass all the (wonderful) qualities associated with being a woman - empathy, compassion, helpfulness - these qualities are grossly devalued in our society. In fact, today’s biggest insults are ones that attack people for their (stereotypical) feminine qualities. “You’re a wuss.” “Be a man.” “Boys don’t cry.” “You throw like a girl.” When the biggest insult for a boy is to be called a girl, and the biggest insult for a GIRL is to be called a girl . . . Well, that’s when we know things have gone too far and we’ve got a problem on our hands. I’m talking a global-warming-sized problem. An economic-deficit-sized problem. A mind-blowingly HUGE problem because half of the world’s population is being attacked for something they can’t control and shouldn’t be ashamed of!

But through careful societal manipulation and advertising we’re lead to believe that aggression, boldness, physical strength, and dominance (stereotypical male qualities) beat out honesty, cautiousness, and mediation (stereotypical female qualities) every time. If we continue to let it be okay to treat women differently on the bases that we were born with a vagina - and don’t deserve every single right that men have - the gap between traits that are considered positive (male) and traits that are considered negative (female) will continue to grow, and everybody will be at a great disadvantage.

One gross misdemeanor that would make any feminist (including myself) cringe is when common courtesy is mistaken for “being a gentleman.” Boys my age complain that (all) girls expect them to hold doors open for them, pull out their chairs, and fork out their wallets every time the bill comes around. I’ll save my you-can’t-categorize-all-women-like-that speech for another day, but it’s unfortunate that “common courtesy” is all too often confused with “a man’s duty.” Don’t hold a door open for me because I’m a fragile woman who needs to be tended and cared for, hold it open for me because I’m a person, and it’s the polite thing to do. Just like I’m going to hold the door open for the next person, regardless of whether they’re a man or a woman.

Up until now, we’ve discussed strictly emotional aspects of sexism: how boys and girls feel when they’re typecast, how infuriating it is for a woman - a woman with unique thoughts, feelings, and ambitions - to be stereotyped because of her gender, and how devastating it is to be told the things you can and cannot do, all because of the parts you were born with. For some of us, the fact that there are people suffering because of gender stereotyping is reason enough to consider sexism a hot-button issue. But for others, all that “mushy stuff” isn’t good enough. These people (usually the same ones who think all feminists are hairy man-haters) want tangible proof, and unless we can show them exactly when, where, and how women are stereotyped and degraded they’ll never be satisfied. Well, I will be happy to enlighten them.

According to Deborah Siegel in Sisterhood, Interrupted, “Women own only 1 percent of the world’s assets, continue to make up the majority of the world’s poor, [and] are disproportionately victims of violent crime.” Speaking to that last item, we girls are constantly reminded how dangerous the world can be and how it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves. But isn’t it funny that disproportionately less time is spent teaching young people (i.e. males) why domestic violence is wrong, or how it can be prevented in the first place? In an extreme example of how little people acknowledge the all-too-real threat of abuse, “The South Carolina House Judiciary Committee voted in 2005 to make cock-fighting a felony, but tabled a bill that would have done the same for domestic violence” (Valenti).

I could write a book on how unfairly women are treated in the professional world, but I’ll start with something called the Glass Ceiling Effect, as explained by Jessica Valenti in her book Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters:

It’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their sex (or race, color, national organization, or religion, for that matter), but it still happens all the time. The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission found that one of the reasons for discrimination is a “difference” barrier that “manifests through conscious and unconscious stereotyping and bias.” So basically, the people who do the hiring like hiring people who look like them. And if it’s a white guy doing the hiring... Well, you see where I’m going.

As of 2007, women represented 16 out of 100 U.S. senators, 71 of 435 representatives, 20 percent of college professors, 17 percent of law firm partners (Seigel), and men continue to outnumber women six to one in top corporate jobs (Valenti). Not to mention that equal-pay-for-equal-work is still a joke, “because for every dollar a man earns, a women still earns only 77 cents - an increase from the 59 cents she earned when the second wave of feminism began, but still far from equal” (Siegel). And if all this weren’t enough, an article in a July 2006 issue of The New York Times reported that “unemployed men do less work around the house than women who have full-time jobs”; a 2005 study from New York University found “the more a woman weighs, the less her family income and occupational prestige”; and reputable publications around the country are printing articles with outrageous titles like “Don’t Marry Career Women” and “Career Women Make Bad Mothers” (Valenti). We just can’t win, can we?

What’s worse, men are rarely (if ever) discriminated this way. When have you heard of a man being refused for hire purely because he was a man? Men have been fired for being “too fat” and “too gay” (just a couple of the many stigmas we “imperfect people” face) but never because of their gender. In fact, if we were to create a fictional world where some men earned less than other men because they were, say, shorter - most people would just laugh. Even though the scenario mimics perfectly how some women are treated (i.e. the short men would be earning less for biological factors completely out of their control), we all know that this would never happen in real life.

So when do we stop talking about that instance of office sexism when a woman’s behind was treated like a piece of meat, and start reporting it? When do we stop accepting less pay for doing the same jobs as men (or, if that doesn’t affect us personally, start standing up for women who are in that position)? When do we stop letting others dictate the types of fields we enter, the top positions we apply for, and the passions we have? When do we stop letting terms like “bitch” and “slut” define women in this country? And when will we finally realize that heck, we’re worth fighting for?

This is where feminism comes into play.

If you’re like most Americans, the word “feminism” conjures up several images in your mind. Maybe you picture hippie ladies burning their bras and letting their untrimmed facial and underarm hair flap in the wind. Maybe you picture radical women plotting their next attack on mankind (literally), or socially-inept, angry-at-the-world shut-ins as they mutter curses under their breath before sitting down to a meal of little puppies. There are so many misconceptions about feminism (thank you, media!), that it’s really frustrating for young women who want to be an advocate for women’s rights, but don’t want to be labeled as any of the above stereotypes. In her comprehensive novel Feminism, Christina Fisanick explained:
According to a 2005 poll conducted by CBS News, it is a tough time to be a feminist. Although the majority of women polled believe that the women’s movement had helped improve their opportunities above those of their mothers’ generation, 70 percent of them did not consider themselves to be feminists. This data reflects what has become a growing number of women who have distanced themselves from the label “feminist.” It is not uncommon for women, especially young women, to begin sentences about the rights of women with the phrase, “I am not a feminist, but . . .” Regrettably, feminism has become the new f-word.
Pat Robertson, a right-wing political spokesperson and host of The 700 Club, even went so far as to say feminism is “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Wow. Please take a moment to stifle your incredulous laughter, or regain consciousness (whichever comes first).

Thanks to the media (and lovely right-wingers like Mr. Robertson) Feminism has been distorted almost beyond recognition. This idea of a man-hating subculture of women surely isn’t what our grandmothers had in mind when they picketed for equal job opportunities and reproductive rights. At it’s core, feminism is simply “the movement toward full political, economic, and social equality for men and women” (Baumgardner). But we might relate better to the phrase made famous by Cheris Kramarae in The Feminist Dictionary, “feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”

Feminism is generally described in three stages or waves. The First Wave initiated in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York with the first formal women’s rights conference. Women who joined this movement were often part of the thriving antislavery movement; other times they were inspired by local Native American cultures that afforded women extensive rights, like land ownership and the right to vote. Second Wave feminism was dedicated to equality under the law and in opportunity, and “beginning in the sixties and continuing into the seventies, laws were passed guaranteeing equal access to education (Title IX), outlawing gender discrimination (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act), and coining phrases for date rape, domestic violence, and sexism - serious problems that used to just be called life” (Valenti). Though Second Wave feminism is often criticized for exclusively favoring white, middle-class women, modern-day feminism (or Third Wave feminism) has been shaped by women of all races, nationalities, religions, abilities, and sexual orientations, making it increasingly relevant to all of our lives.

However, there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding “liberal feminism” and how it might corrupt the integrity of the initial movement of the 1960’s. In short, there are some women who believe female empowerment is all about flaunting their sexuality. “Only thirty years (my lifetime) ago,” stated Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture,“ our mothers were ‘burning their bras’ and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we [are] getting implants and wearing the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation. How had the culture shifted so drastically in such a short period of time?” Levy went on to say:
What was almost more surprising than the change itself were the responses I got when I started interviewing the men and - often - women who edit magazines like Maxim and make programs like The Man Show and Girls Gone Wild. This new raunch culture didn’t mark the death of feminism, they told me; it was evidence that the feminist project had already been achieved. We’d earned the right to look at Playboy; we were empowered enough to get Brazilian bikini waxes.
However discouraging this new wave of “chauvinist women” may be, we can’t forget the hordes of women who still want to represent the integrity of First Wave feminism. Women around the country (and the world) are gaining momentum as an extremely positive and influential force; we are the enlightened ones who know sexism and gender discrimination is fundamentally wrong, and we’re the ones who are trying to do something about it.

There are some people out there who believe feminism is irrelevant in this day and age. “Women got their 19th Amendment,” they say, “isn’t that good enough?” While women have come a long way (I certainly appreciate the fact that I’m not barred from wearing pants), we still have a long way to go. Women still have a great deal to fight for because, to be honest, women are not seen as equal to men. Not on a whole, anyway. Now this doesn’t mean that all women are oppressed, that all women are unhappy, or that I’m not appreciative for the rights we do have. But there are plenty of women in the world who are suffering unnecessarily for things beyond their control, and as part of the glorious group that is the WAWOW (Wickedly Awesome Women of the World) I have to do my part to better the condition of women everywhere. Because the day we stop standing up for each other, the day we sit down and throw our hands up in the air, the day we stop fighting for the rights we know we deserve - is the day we agree with everything we’ve ever been accused of.

Works Cited
Baumgardner, Jennifer, and Amy Richards. Grassroots: a Field Guide for Feminist Activism. New York, N.Y.: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. Print.

Brizendine, Louann. The Female Brain. New York: Broadway, 2006. Print.

Fisanick, Christina. Feminism. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2008. Print.

Levy, Ariel. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. New York: Free, 2005. Print.

Siegel, Deborah. Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women To Grrls Gone Wild. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.

Valenti, Jessica. Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide To Why Feminism Matters. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2007. Print.

Weiner, Jessica. Do I Look Fat in This?: Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds from Now. New York: Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2006. Print.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shh! Don't Say the F-word

I'm a feminist. Man, that feels good.

I've been a feminist all my life but didn't realize it until a few weeks ago when I checked out a twenty-pound stack of books from the library (everything from Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism to Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs). Somewhere along the line something clicked; maybe it wasn't as glamorous as the whole light-bulb-over-the-head charade, but it was pretty dang life-changing.

My name's Danielle and I'm your typical high school student. Even though I suffer from over-achiever-itis my friends still know me as the nice, funny one. I believe in honesty, compassion (all of that philosophical mumbo-jumbo) and really try to be someone my parents and friends can be proud of. But sometimes even that feels like a revolutionary act when you're drowning in a sea of teens who go around disrespecting everybody within a 5-mile radius. (But in their defense, I have met some pretty awesome kids, too.)

I've never understood any of the 'isms. You know what I'm talking about: racism, ageism, classism, sexism . . . anything that deems one group of people better than another. In my (some would say "twisted") mind, people are just people. The last time I checked we all laugh, cry, feel, and bleed (unless you're spurting some outlandish green liquid that I don't know about . . .?)

When I realized I was a feminist I thought "what do I do now"? I was honestly scared to tell anybody about my new "discovery" because I wasn't sure how they'd react. The first person I told was my mom; she looked at me and said "I know that, silly. I've always known that." What a gal! She knew one of my intimate secrets before I knew about it! Next came Grandma, which worried me a little. Not only is Grandma religious, she's very outspoken. Her philosophy? "If you don't like me, too bad."

Me: "You know, Grandma . . . I'm a feminist."

Her: "Well, yeah . . . I've always said that. I will never let a man control me."

But why did I have to feel this way? Like I was unearthing a dirty secret, my own straight girl's version of coming out of the closet? Why am I scared for the future, of what people will think of me? The fact is, today's world is dangerous for teenagers like me (and you, if you're reading this) because the "f-word" is marred by too many stereotypes to count.

Our latest assignment in English, for example, was to debate the topic "should women be treated differently than men?". After several girls dropped the "f-bomb" one of my (male) classmates blurted out: "Feminism? Isn't that where guys, like, put on girl clothes?"

You can't see me, but I'm cringing! It seems like only a miniscule fraction of people know what feminism actually is, and the rest look at things through media-eyes, associating all feminists with radical, hairy, man-hating lesbians (I'm not putting down homosexuality, but you know what I mean). In fact, my favorite quote comes from Pat Robertson, host of the religious variety show The 700 Club: "[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."

In the words of my 8th grade English teacher: Really, Pat? Really? If this is the crap I'm going to have to deal with, looks like I'm going to have to grow some thicker skin ASAP.

All pig-headed, right-wing nutjobs aside, I am absolutely in love with feminism. To me, it's not so much a philosophy as it is incredible people standing up for the rights we, as humans, inherently deserve. And if feminists are simply those who believe in "the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes," wouldn't that make most people feminists (even if they don't like the label)? That's a reassuring thought.

So I wanted to write a blog about something I actually understand. I'm not an award-winning physicist or world-renowned psychologist (yet!), but what I do understand is the stuff swishing around in my noggin. I want to write about life from my perspective - a feminist teen just trying to make sense of the world - and hopefully appeal to others who feel the same way (but who haven't necessarily found their "feminist outlet").

In the end, I decided to call this blog Experimentations of a Teenage Feminist:

Experimentations referring to the fact that life is one big experiment. We do what we think is right, hope for the best, get knocked on our behinds most of the time, but inevitably pick ourselves back up. Ah, life.

Teenage referring to the fact that I am technically (i.e. biologically) still a kid. So if I make mistakes, complain, or go a little over-board in my rants, blame it on my age. I don't have to go all "Yoda" until I'm at least twenty.

Finally, Feminist referring to the fact that I've finally found my niche. I was born to be one of those "annoying" girls who stands up for what she believes in. I was born to help other girls realize their potential, gain confidence, and ultimately love themselves. And I was born to (please prepare yourself for the corniest statement of the century) make the world a better place.
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