Why I identify as a feminist
I am of Indian orgin. I am young. I have watched porn, I have been to stripclubs a number of times, I have worn high heels and lipstick, I have not worn high heels and lipstick, I don’t believe all prostitutes are victims, I don’t believe all people who wear hijab or niquab are opressed. I am into kink. I am fat. Any or all of these facets of my idenity and my beliefs have the potential to marginalise me within the mainstream feminist movement and indeed at various times I have found myself at complete odds with people who, just like me, identify as feminist.
For a very long time the feminist movement has not been kind to those who do not fit nicely into neat little boxes. It has not been kind to women who’s lived experience has never been close to the dominant narrative of what it means to be a woman. It has not been kind to those who are genderqueer or LGBT. It has not been kind to people with disabilities/disabled people. It like many social justice movements has had many problems and for a long time and in many ways has been just as much a tool of oppression as it has been a tool of liberation.
It is certainly a large part of my privilege – a reflection of my class, my currently able status, my level of education my cis status etc.. that more often than not the feminist movement has worked for my interests rather than against them and I am very much cognizant of this. It would however be ridiculous to say that I have never been marginalised within feminism, that my thoughts and voice have never been erased and silenced.
So I continue to identify as a feminist because I expect more from feminism. The feminism I envision works for the advancement of all women – whether they were born that way or not. The feminism I envision involves a nuanced articulation of pro-choice values and policy which does not marginalse people with disabilities/disabled people. The feminism I envision comes from a place of collaboration, comradeship and alliance – not imperialism, oppression and saviour type dialogoues.
I believe that feminism can be all of these things and that one day and this is the feminism I strive to make mine. Part of making the world better includes making feminism better. Thus for me part of being feminist is making feminism better, both by the inclusion of my own particular perspective but also by making show I understand the perspectives of those who live the world in a way I have never experienced.