Feminists aren’t grown, they’re made. We don’t just vacate the birth canal with the collective works of Simone de Beauvoir in hand; we have to become aware of the discrimination around us through a combination of literature, pop culture and social media.
In short, we have to have some kind of feminist awakening where we consciously realise that we are feminists.
But realising that you are a feminist is a bit like being a horse. Yes you read that right, a horse. Picture it, you are a horse, drawing a carriage full of people. Every tug on the reigns tells you exactly how fast you have to go and in what direction; and blinkers covering your eyes shield you from anything that isn’t directly in front of you.
“You can’t go back to unknowing what possibilities there are.”
Then, one day, your blinkers are taken off, and for the first time you see–truly see–the world around you. You see all the things that you couldn’t see before. You become aware of the dangers around you: cars racing past, people running in front of you, the obstacles in your path. You also see what could be: horses in the field, free from the shackles of the carriage that you have been trained to pull for all of your life.
You think to yourself that you don’t want to pull a carriage. Maybe you want to pull an apple cart instead, or a plough in a field. Perhaps you get the crazy idea that you don’t want to pull anything at all, that you’d rather be a racehorse, or a showjumper–hell maybe you want to do dressage, it’s your life after all! But you don’t get to do any of those things, because it’s not natural, because you’re not supposed to, because that’s how it’s always been. So you pull a carriage, and that’s that.
But you can’t go back to unknowing what possibilities there are. You can’t suddenly forget that in another life, you could have been a showjumper or a wild pony. And so whilst you continue you to pull your carriage like a good little horse, you can’t help but be painfully aware of how different your life could be–painfully being the operative word.
“Sometimes as a vocal feminist, you feel like you’re sucking the colour out of a rainbow.”
There seems to be this assumption that feminists take great joy in dissecting speeches, calling out people for their ignorance, or even pointing out all the flaws in your favourite TV shows. But whilst sometimes there is joy to be found in destroying a bigot’s argument, or in pointing out that yes, this dress does have pockets, thank you very much, most feminists do not enjoy picking apart the world around them.
See, the problem with being aware, is that you are aware. Seemingly innocuous phrases or symbols are no longer such. Say goodbye to enjoying television and movies—just forget it–because now you will see every crack in the casually ableist facade of that nerdy comedy. You’ll wince at every woman’s life being solved by the introduction of some guy’s penis; and you won’t be surprised that nearly every late-night talk show host is a slightly different peachy variation of the same man. You’ll recognise that all your faves are problematic, that there is no black or white when humanity is involved, just varying shades of grey.
“We desperately want to melt into our couches and Netflix and chill just like everybody else.”
Sometimes as a vocal feminist, you feel like you’re sucking the colour out of a rainbow when you talk about why representation matters, or the obvious ageism in Hollywood. Surprisingly enough, noticing that most of your bookshelf is filled with male authors, or that your favourite films fail the Bechdel test isn’t exactly satisfying.
So yes, we demand media that is inclusive and thoughtful, not because we want to stifle freedom of speech, but because we desperately want to melt into our couches and Netflix and chill just like everybody else.
Editor’s Note: This piece originally included the sentence ‘We demand media media that is woke, inclusive, and thoughtful.’ However it has been brought to our attention that the word ‘woke’ is appropriating Black Culture. As such, we have amended the sentence.