Why I'm A Feminist

Lyrics from "Beautiful Flower" by India.Arie One thing you should know about me, if you haven't gathered it already: I'm a bit of a famous-quotes junkie. My Facebook timeline is riddled with the wisdom of Elizabeth Gilbert, Melody Beattie, songbird India Arie and other people whose words resonate with me as though I spoke them myself. Words, both positive and negative, carry a certain power that's entirely unmatched.

Maya Angelou talks about this when she details her fierce objection to hearing words like "bitch" used to describe a woman. When I hear that word and others like it, I find myself cringing right along with her. Suddenly, it seems I'm no longer able to listen to all of Robin Thicke's unbelievably catchy yet controversially degrading new hit "Blurred Lines" without my stomach turning. Words have done everything from inspiring me so much that I finally started this blog to pissing me off so passionately that I turned into a feminist. Yes, I just said the F-word: I'm a feminist.

'When did that happen?' I asked myself just a few days ago as the aforementioned tune blared in my car, me caught somewhere between dancing and flinching. They say we finally decide to change when whatever it is we're doing is finally more painful than not doing it anymore. Was it the same with no longer caring what was being said about women (or any other group of individuals for that matter) on the radio? Was it finally no longer possible for me to feign ignorance when so far from ignorant? It certainly seemed so.

I'm under the impression that a large percentage of society still believes there's something particularly un-dainty about a woman commanding the same respect and achieving the same success as a man. My mom always proved to be a huge exception to that rule: she always had a killer career and a life of her own, and I never questioned that I would have one too. For goodness sake, I didn't even know what a glass ceiling was until she explained it to me when I entered college. To her, that very fact was proof that her and her cohorts had finally skyrocketed through that glass ceiling in a very significant way. I simply didn't understand the idea that less would be expected of me just because I was female.

But I have to say, I found myself pretty fed up earlier today when listening to songs on my very own iPod telling me "I knew I wanted it" and other similar sentiments. I usually write to a rather positive tune, but this time is different. This time, I'm fired up. While I'd love to blame it all on Mr. Thicke, he isn't the only one responsible for my sour mood:

It happened yesterday as I was walking into the hospital to visit my grandma on my lunch break. As I hustled up the front steps near the entrance, three men in scrubs stopped me, each telling me their own interpretation of how great they thought I looked in my dress - clearly not a one of them straining too hard to keep it PG. I stopped after they walked passed me and took a minute to digest that, to them, I was just an object. I was someone they could gawk at and drool over under the assumption that I had dressed up solely for their drool. I was horrified, but still no rookie to this ridiculously common situation that women find themselves in all the time. In fact, there was even a time when I dressed down just to avoid it. I soon realized that this was me letting them win (while simultaneously realizing that, as the daughter of a fashionista, I'm really bad at "dressing down.")

It can no longer be held as an acceptable occurance that a woman walks down the street and expects to be whistled at, gawked at, or ogled over as though she dressed up solely to be ogled. As I watched my best friend and out-of-the-closet feminist get married this weekend, I knew in my heart that we are traveling in the right direction...

But there is still plenty of work to do.

I sincerely hope that there's a day when someone stopping me like that on the street makes other people stop and ask me if I'm okay. Anyone near me in moments like those usually just keeps walking, and I don't blame them because I would probably just keep walking too. That's human nature:

We walk by things that happen in front of us almost every single day.