I have a confession.
Sometimes when my Chrome plugin that keeps me from wasting time says, “You’ve wasted too much time on Facebook today; get off for 24 hours,” I get on Safari instead, and I keep wasting time.
One problem: on Chrome, I have an ad-blocker plugin. On Safari, I don’t. This means that on Safari, I get to see all the irritating-slash-creepy ads that say things like, “There’s a new law in your town!” or “There are single adults near you!” (Spoiler: I live at a university. Of course there are single adults near me.)
Last night, the creepy ad said, “Five foods women should never eat! Cut belly fat by avoiding these foods!”
And I got angry.
Because nobody’s going around telling men they should cut belly fat by skipping out on yummy food. Because nobody should be allowed to judge my belly fat, thank you very much. Because skipping out on perfectly good food is a horrible way to lose weight. Because why does the internet get to tell me what my body size should be anyway?
I was tempted, in retaliation, to quit exercising and start eating funnel cakes for every meal, to gain some belly fat and keep it.
I quickly realised this would not accomplish much, so instead I did a scary thing. When Amy Green asked if I’d write responses for her blog’s feminism discussion this month, I said yes.
Here’s the thing: I get roaring furious about feminist issues. I’ve always had what you might call an overblown sense of justice. As a kid, I threw fits if my brother’s slice of pie was a fraction of a millimetre larger than mine. If everyone’s sharing a bag of chips and one person eats faster than the rest, it kills me that the fast person ultimately gets the most chips, even if everyone gets the same amount of enjoyment out of eating them.
Arguments also drive me crazy–especially arguments that matter–because there are always at least two sides to any issue, and I have a talent for seeing them. This makes me hesitant to make strong statements about big issues, because I’m probably wrong about something or underestimating something or misjudging something. And if I’m not, someone probably thinks I am, and that’s as bad, because I despise being judged as narrow-minded.
I also hate feeling helpless.
Guess what? Feminism is all those things. It’s injustice that infuriates me, and it’s huge, multifaceted injustice that I cannot personally solve. So I try to avoid it.
Let me make another confession: for a long time, I was that person who said, “Stop complaining. Sexism is not a thing. Quit making a big issue out of nothing.” In some ways, I think I was sheltered. Because my own family is egalitarian, because I myself can’t fathom discriminating based on something as petty as gender, because my gender has never held me back in my short life–I was certain the rest of the world must be as fair as my own small circle.
Over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware that it is not.
So this week, I am speaking up. I am saying things people may not agree with, things people may not like, because I believe them to be relevant, essential, and true. I’m saying them because I am a woman and a writer, and I should stand up for rightness.
More than that–because I am a human, and I should stand up for humanity and decency and the chance that maybe saying something will open someone’s eyes, change someone’s world, shift someone’s paradigm just the tiniest bit.
Because a strange man in a parking lot told me to smile, because a hundred blogs demand my clothing coincide with a man’s desires and not my own comfort, and because the internet wants me not to eat because I might have belly fat.