It’s been a long time since I did a ‘real’ post. By a real post, I mean one about myself where I don’t just post a link or a story and say that’s it’s important, but one about actual experiences.
This weekend I went to visit the sort-of-in-laws (i.e. we are not married so there is no law about it). I started the weekend by being interview by someone for a book about feminism. It felt good. She asked me about Birmingham Fems and how and why I set up the group.
I recalled me feelings of isolation while living in Norwich with the SOILs (oh good abbreviation!) and how I felt like a freak with outdated ideas about sexuality and sexual expression and what it meant to be a ‘modern woman’ who can succeed without removing her clothes. I went on to tell her about I met people from other regional feminist groups and was encouraged to start my own. So I did with some guidance, and it took a long time to get off the ground, but when a few people’s enthusiasm finally matched my own we started to meet up.
It wasn’t about activism or academia, although it was really in some ways, for some people. For me it was, and is, about support. About being able to speak to people who get where you’re coming from. About being able to talk to someone about something that has bothered you and not have to start from a position of defense about why you feel that way.
Then we got to Norwich. Well first we got stuck near Elveden because a kind and slightly shirty man got out of his car in stopped traffic to tell he had ‘almost gone into the back of us’ because our brake lights weren’t working. So we stopped and indeed the two normal brake lights weren’t working although the one at the top of the window was. Dee checked the bulbs and the fuses (I was too hot so I went to look at the war memorial) and everything seemed fine. So after an hour or so of awaiting breakdown assistance we finally got to Norwich. We went to see ‘The Young Victoria‘ at a showing at a local community centre that the SOILs are involved with. I LOVE that film because Emily Blunt is amazing and because Victoria didn’t feel the need to be married before she became Queen and she wasn’t intimidated by the fact that she was so young, and she refused to sign the regency order just because her mum and her advisor wanted her too.
BUT, when the host introduced the film, all he said about Victoria was essentially that she was a horny baby machine! All stuff like she wasn’t a quiet girl (oh yes, girl) and ‘nine babies in 20 years’ etc, and and ‘phoar’ about Emily Blunt. This is a 60 something ex-school teacher and ex-Parish Council Chairman, you know. That really annoyed me, and I felt it again. Here I am, back in the place where I felt powerless, where I still FEEL powerless every time I am here because Dee’s mum for some reason thinks I am this really girly girl who likes disgusting duvet covers with shoes on, and all things pink and glitter. Yes, when I was living with them I went through a real Monsoon stage but that’s because their clothes are elegant and remind me of, my first love, dancing.
This is not who I am.
I am not that kind of woman.
I am not ANY kind of woman.
I am MY kind of woman.
I am not any particular kind of feminist.
I am every kind of feminist I can be apart from pro-pornography (there is no space here to debate the true existence of such a person) based on my experiences and choices. i.e. I am not separatist feminist because I believe that feminism and sexism are human issues, and because I live with and love a man. Of course, if one chooses to further define their feminism by gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, then I am different from others. However, the root remains the same. I am a feminist. I understand what you mean by your feminism and you hopefully understand what I mean by mine.
I am not a ‘academic’ feminist, even though I am interested in feminist theories. This is nothing to do with academia for me though. I do not feel that going to University shaped my opinions on feminism – or at least the academic side of it didn’t. Living with men and being assaulted by someone who supposedly loved me, those things taught me things about my feminism. I have always enjoyed the concepts of science and theory – that something is only true until it is proven otherwise. Like criminal justice. My current field. People assume that I must be academic in my feminist outlook, because I went to University and because I did study gender in relation to criminal behaviour and victimisation for my second degree (but I had to PUSH feminism into that, I had to make it fit into my work because it was part of me and I wouldn’t let them push it out of me, even if my trainee colleagues though I was absolutely unhinged). That is just one part of it for me, and I don’t really tend to discuss that outside of work, because seriously 38+ hours of being in the mindset is enough for me!
I love feminist art. I love feminist thought, and speaking and just, being.
I am me. I am Grace. I am Katie. I am katieinthehat. I am ‘fearless leader’ of Birmingham Fems if you’re a member and you want to make me cringe. I am the “committed to working with women offenders” one. I am the “has a visceral reaction to pornography, certain words, certain phrases, certain places, certain names, certain concepts” one. I am the “seriously too tired to read your long policy documents” one. I am the “no I didn’t read that article or watch that news story because I have to work at work and sleep at home” one. I am the 25 year old woman with a full head that feels ageless, who is still trapped between external expectations and internal desires. I want to scream in your face when you call me girl, or love, or your sweet when you don’t know me. I want to hug you when you don’t do those things. I want to be extreme, and I want to be calm and collected. I want my voice to be heard but I don’t want ALL the attention.
I just want you to know who I am.