I don’t want to be annoying. I like bras and my long hair and boys. I like boys so much that I’m afraid to drop the F-bomb on them: Feminist. It was never something that I questioned before, having assumed that, obviously, everyone else in the world had the same definition of feminism as me- which consisted not of “hating men” or believing that women should be treated as if they were men; I believe that women and men should be treated equally as humans, and something as simple as that I thought was universally understood. However, on my third or fourth date with a boy whom, prior to this moment, I honestly believed to be my soul mate, I casually mentioned that I was a feminist and earnestly asked him if he was as well. We were in Southern California, after all, and in this modern age it was only natural for me to assume he’d say yes, right?
Wrong. I proceeded to give him the death glare after he ineloquently explained to me how women and men are “different” and naturally gravitate towards different roles, with women tending to me more family-oriented and men wanting to be the provider. He couldn’t call himself a feminist because he didn’t believe that women should hate men (when I, for some reason, continued to see this guy, he later told me that he “wasn’t informed enough” about feminism to make a judgment on whether or not he agreed with it). This was my first encounter with the double-edged sword of calling oneself a feminist, and to this day, as wrong as it is, I continue to struggle with this label.
How can I, at once, be a strong, independent female working to uplift other females when, God dammit, I like boys a lot? How do I be “feminine and dainty and flirty” in order to attract the opposite sex all the while vocalizing the oppressing effects of our patriarchal society? In other words, how do I not come off as a “scary feminist” when I’m on a date with a hot guy?
Yet, it is here that I have to stop and think: do I honestly want to date a guy who uses expressions such as “scary feminist?” While I don’t necessarily need to be with a guy who is exactly like me, I’m forgetting that a relationship needs to be built on a common set of beliefs. Sure, it might turn off a misogynistic guy to discuss my passion for female empowerment, but what do I care about impressing a misogynist anyway! Rather than downplaying my own self so as not to impede upon a guy’s sense of masculine dominance, I think that my real soul mate will want to grab the bullhorn with me to fight against the laundry list of violence and injustices that women face around this world.