feminism / March 2016: Revolutionary Women / sexism / sisterhood / stereotypes

International Women's Day: How Feminism Changed My Life

I don’t know if you know, but I’m a feminist, and damn proud of it (hence y’know, this whole website). I thought today, International Women’s Day, would be a good time to reflect as to how feminism has shaped my growth from self-hating woman to I-quite-like-myself babe.

1) Being aware of oppression made me think about what I truly wanted

I’d always kind of assumed in my subconscious I’d follow the ‘traditional’ (for want of a better word) life-plan; monogamy, kids, forty cats. Then I discovered feminism in first year and truly began thinking about what the eff I was doing. Why do I want that guy’s approval? Why am I judging that girl for wearing that? Am I even straight? WHAT IS HAPPENING? Katherine is evolving… into KatherineBeta – the less of a dickhead, more confident and self-assured version. (+50HP)

2) I didn’t have to laugh at non-funny men anymore

Why did I ever do this? I used to treat random blokes better than my own mother and accommodate masculinity over my own feelings. It’s polite to laugh at really sexist jokes, right? Don’t be an uncool stick in the mud, jheez. No, FU! Katherine used PHILOSOPHY DEGREE LOGIC to break down why this joke is shit and why it makes no sense to award negative behaviour based on yo’ genitals.

3) I grew a backbone

Man, I let guys treat me like a physical turd as a teenager. Looking back, I’m disgusted with how I was treated and with how much bullshit I put up with because I had such low self-esteem re: my looks and personality. WTF WAS I THINKING? Good luck trying to make me feel like shit because I’m a woman nowadays, folks. I used to be obsessed with coming across as womanly and small (I’m like, 6ft and overweight), and people commenting that I used to sit like a man would cause me to have an internal meltdown. The idea of that affecting me now? Laughable. Katherine earned SELF RESPECT… okay I’ll stop with the Pokémon/Scott Pilgrim references now.

4) I became WOKE to other issues (and internet slang)

When you take an interest in a social issue, you notice and care about others, too. I became interested in LGBT+ rights, race issues, ableism… and I can’t believe how oblivious I used to be about other people’s struggles. Here at Zusterschap we make sure our feminism is intersectional and give a wide variety of people a voice.

5) I feel like part of a community

When you meet a fellow feminist or come across an awesome one online, it’s a great feeling. It’s a reminder that you’re not alone in fighting for positive change and when you see it reflected in modern life, it makes you feel like things really can change. The amount people have shared with me simply because I run this site and talk about sexism/feminism has been both overwhelming and depressing all at the same time. From drunken Facebook messaging to incredibly revealing conversations, I have become aware that every woman is struggling with her own personal demons or fight, and I’ve learned that talking about things sure does help, be it because a problem shared is a problem halved, or because raising awareness is important in removing stigma. We are literally all in this together, ladies.

6) Other women don’t intimidate me anymore

There was a horrible feeling I used to get when I met other women and they were somewhat intimidating or I felt like they were better than me in some way (usually if I thought they were funnier than me or had amazing social skills). I’d automatically hate them and be like: “THEY’RE THE WORST” *secretly laughs at their amazing jokes and copies their every style/move.* Then I realised that’s how we’re made to feel, not how we should feel, by a society that literally profits from tearing women down on how they look (see: the front pages of best-selling magazines). They make their money by slagging off women to other women, and that’s how we’re expected to act with one another. I say: fuck that shit. Make that intimidating woman your new best mate and remember that other women aren’t your competition; her accomplishments do not diminish your own. (Yes, I read that on an Instagram post).

7) I don’t assume things about people

Similar to the previous point, I’ve completely given up judging other women. If my immediate thought upon meeting someone is: “THASALLOT OF CLEAVAGE,” I remember that boob-skin-folds have no bearing on another human being’s personality. It’s like brain-training your mind out of a lifetime of bad judgey habits, but it’s so worth it. I’ve become friends with people I used to vaguely dislike by retracting my initial judgements of them and y’know, treating them as a another human being. It’s sad that I used to be so judgemental, but feminism really does aim to make sure women lift other women up rather than stepping over each other.

8) Basically, I take less shit because we’ve taken so much for so long

It has taught me to accept myself, wobbly thighs an’ all, and assured me that women do have a friggin’ shit time of it. And I don’t have to be silent, ’cause why should I? I swore at someone in the street the other day because they stopped me, made me take off my headphones and told me to smile. About five years ago, I’d probably have obsessed over how I looked and whether I was giving off a negative vibe to people, whilst smiling or laughing off this person’s behaviour. But now, instead, I see male-entitlement over my goddamn FACE in a public area. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: FUCK OFF.

In all, it’s boosted my self-esteem, made me a more understanding person and allowed me to remove any internal misogyny planted there by that pesky patriarchy. (You so sneaky, patriarchy).

How has it helped you? Let me know in the comments below!

– Katherine Hockley

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