2 October 2009

The red pill of feminism

While writing a comment on Shakesville, I suddenly realised I am at the beginning of my journey as a feminist. I never articulated that to myself until I was writing it.

I thought no, that's not true, in some ways I took the red pill years ago, I was always a feminist - but no. I didn't even call myself a feminist. I called myself an equalist, because I truly believed in equality, and I thought the word feminism by its very nature didn't express equality. If I said I was a feminist it would sound like I was all about teh wimmenz, and I really and truly wanted equality. Sometimes now I wish the early feminists had just used the word equalist and avoided this whole damned problem. I'd almost prefer to call myself a suffragette.

I took the red pill recently, and I realise that I had never been a feminist. How could I? I was half blind and half deaf, seeing only the worst excesses but burying my head in the sand when it came to the everyday acts, trying to harden the fuck up so I wouldn't feel the death by a thousand cuts, caring about the men in my life and accepting the terrible bargain of the blue pill. Because of that, I am at the beginning of my feminist journey; and once I sloughed off the excess misogyny I found myself increasingly alone. But I had glimpsed what a feminist support network looked like, and I was determined to get myself some more of that.

I have a clue as to why I continued to swallow the blue pill for so long. I remember at one point I was studying sociology, and when I stopped I said to several people "I'm sick and tired of hearing how oppressed I am". It got a laugh, and it was true - at the time I thought that there was no way I could rise above the many layers of oppression if I focused on them; I was afraid I would be overwhelmed by despair. But now I wonder if there was something else - a particular form of oppression that I wasn't willing to face. I can think of no other reason to explain why I already understood so many things yet was completely oblivious to the one that affected me most. I think I somehow subconsciously knew I wasn't ready to be confronted with it, and that to encounter it would mean that I couldn't deny it any more. It was the red pill, and I refused it. I was afraid of being overwhelmed.

But continuing to take the blue pill nearly killed me, so in the end the red was the only option. I became a feminist because I had no other choice. Once I had taken the red pill, I could not be silent, I could not call myself an equalist, I could not accept the terrible bargain, and my friends and family dropped away like flies as I began demanding respect and support unequivocally.

The red pill can be a bitter, bitter pill in this stage.

But I knew that one must prune in order to see new growth emerge. I am happy with my choice, even if at this point it means solitude for the most part. I am rebuilding my life, and I am making sure my supports are not rotten at the core. I have seen the awesomeness of a feminist network, and I am determined to be part of one, no matter how hard it is.

It is worth it.


Maud said...

That's an interesting reminder, cinnamon girl, that even the things we really need, we must prepare ourselves for. Thanks for sharing it through the Shakesville blogaround.

My name is Erin. said...

Thanks so much for visiting The Gentle Giant. I've had a very good friend for a long time who is Downs Syndrome and she is absolutely an inspiration to me. She works for my father and I decided a long time ago, that if my Abby grows up to be like my friend, Sandy, that is a fabulous life and I'd love it!

Abby has a friend who rides the bus with her who is Downs and she LOVES her! She calls her, "my girl".

Interesting post. I've never called myself a feminist, but was once told by my mother that I never needed to... because I'd naturally been one since birth. It was just part of my genetic code. I was the only girl born between two boys and I've never been known to take anyones shit.

SWPD is such an interesting blog. I'd comment way more often, but usually don't have time for the verbose comments it would take. I'm a bit of a mini-blogger in the comments section... as this comment proves.

My name is Erin. said...

Oh yeah, and I haven't read that book, but will look into it as soon as I can. Consider it added to my list.

aquacat said...

Nice post. I experienced the same feeling when I started calling myself a feminist more openly, and I continue to experience people dropping me when I demand respect or fail to reassure them that their prejudices and oppressive expectations are full of fail. But like you said, the red pill is the only choice, because it represents survival and self-love when the blue pill represents nothing by spiritual suicide.