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Let me tell you about my vagina.
Yes, everyone is talking. There are generations of feminists to come because of her and there are marches in every city. The people are cheering because they are so excited about my vagina! And just as many people are tweeting about her with anger. My vagina is what makes me proud and why I am still fighting.
Feminism: very trendy stuff these days. Yes, you look lovely in your “pussy hat.” Your “save the ta-tas” bracelet goes great with that “don’t fuck with us, don’t fuck without us” sign you’re holding, and, girlfriend, you’ve got a great rack, so thank you for “freeing the nipple.” But do you know what you’re protesting?
The feminist movement has become very sexy. Hey, I’m happy about it — but I just want to be sure that my fellow “this is what a feminist looks like” wearers understand why we are so proud of these words.
There is nothing wrong with a little sex appeal. My column is called “Girl on Girl” for goodness sake and yes, that’s supposed to remind you of women touching each other. It’s likely, in part, why you’re reading this article. And I’m okay with that, because once you get to this page I hope to encourage a conversation and maybe challenge something you once believed to be true. Despite my flirtatious cover, I aim to address deeper issues of gender inequality and empower women to assert agency over their sexualities.
It’s easy to over-sexualize the feminist movement. It’s far more difficult to feel its conviction.
Feminism advocates for social, political, economic equality for all — no matter the gender you identify as, the color of your skin, the God that you do or don’t pray to, who your parents are, how much money you make, who you love and how you love and whatever you are and choose to be. As simple as this makes equality sound, for many it is not an easy concept to grasp. In fact, for a large sector of the world it has yet to set in.
Feminism insists the importance of these issues and works to advocate for them. It’s why we vote, why we march, why we call and write letters to our senators. It’s why we engage in difficult conversations, why we write for publications and why we express the “power of the pussy.”
Since its birth, feminism has been given a reputation of man-hating, lesbian separatism and total female take over. Many modern day feminists love to reject this. “I’m a feminist, but not like those feminists,” they’ll tell you. They bandwagon aboard just in time for a moderate feminist agenda. Meanwhile, they also deny a lengthy history of why these feelings existed and still do. Then again, what’s not to love about phallic idolatry, homophobia and a misogynistic patriarchy action packed with normalized rape culture, a profiled wage gap and chronic xenophobia?
Now, nowhere does it say you have to be a feminist. If these ideals are not principals you identify with, or a progression you do not wish to be part of, you are not a feminist. And that’s something I can’t argue with.
But, if these things are important to you, a feminist you are! However you choose to express that is part of your feminism. There is no right or wrong way to get down with equality. These are your morals; you can exercise them by just being a friend. The fact that there are so many ways you can be a feminist is part of the reason why the movement has recently gained so much traction.
It’s true, definitely “don’t fuck without us.” But also try to understand where these sentiments come from. This is about suffrage — and that’s not BDSM. This is about The Feminine Mystique and The Combahee River Collective. This is about “boys will be boys” and cat-calling. This is about climate change, about healthcare and the 45th president of the United States. It’s about my rights and your rights and her rights. It’s about human rights and about insisting that we be seen.
Let’s destigmatize feminism and the vaginas who work to defend it. Let’s call it a pussy but not call it a day. There is work to be done here, plenty of it — and feminism needs you to get involved. Like any great thing, the first step is admitting to it. Be a feminist, and be damn proud of that. Rock your pussy hat, but take the time to educate yourself and understand that the founders of this project carefully selected this word to reclaim it for cis and trans women who are constantly mistreated. Know that Save the ta-tas is an organization that has raised over $1 million towards breast cancer research, and the bracelet you’re sporting contributed to that. It’s easy to take your top off and shout, “free the nipple!” But realize that doing so is a testament to gender equality. Your provocative “Don’t Fuck With Us Don’t Fuck Without Us” pin is actually the work of artist Marilyn Minter, who donates all proceeds to Planned Parenthood. You should wear it with pride because of that.
Talking about my vagina has opened doors for feminism. Let’s be sure not to close any by getting lost in the sexualization of it all. Just because I feel empowered to discuss, explore and have agency over my body does not give you or anyone else permission to impede on it. That is the opposite of what feminism aims to do. Addressing feminist issues in an exploitative manner has sparked excellent involvement for this essential movement for human rights. Dismantling the female body and normalizing female sexuality is imperative in progressing equality. But it is just as important that the focus of these campaigns are not lost between dirty words.
My vagina is as vexed as it is invigorated. My vagina can spark every inch of your body just as it can ignite a revolution. My vagina does not like to be disregarded and it definitely will not stand to be disrespected.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Opinion Editor Dani Pinkus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @dreampinkus.