Warning: curse words ahead!
I am a practicing yogi and a practicing feminist and I am embarrassed to say that I can relate to these wide-eyed women who say that they do not need feminism—but it’s not because I actually agree with them.
I can sympathize because I remember what it was like to grow up in a post-liberation society, being empowered and told that nothing could stop me.
I did what I wanted, wore what I wanted and broke whatever hearts I wanted to.
It was a woman’s world and I was going to exploit it for all that it was worth, proudly proclaiming my power, planting my concurring flag atop every mountain I was told only boys could climb.
By the time I was 15, I was confronted with my sexual prowess and primed to take over the world—with sex as my currency, I was rich!
Rich with delusion, that is. It would take a decade of my wielding this power before I came to terms with the decimation I’d caused and before I finally accepted the fact that it wasn’t my innate feminine power that was driving this fantasy.
Not even close.
It was my tightly packed privilege as a middle-class, white, heterosexual woman living with virtually no knowledge of the violence my hereditary colonialism had caused that made me seemingly impervious to oppression.
It wasn’t until I was more seasoned (and “privileged-ly” educated), that I started to slow my stampede of shallowness, finding the time to watch and listen, and finally finding the space to begin to unpack the immense advantages that these social inclusions had afforded me. Because you see, they exist along the same continuum that my gender initiation had suppressed recognition of.
Patriarchy would have me believe that the intersection of all these entitled licenses I wielded mattered not, and that in fact, my subscribed gender actually affords me greater privilege.
Because, not only am I a middle class, white, heterosexual woman, I also happen to have been born into the colonizing class of one of the most abundant countries in the world, where by way of genetics and my adherence to the relevant and unrealistic beauty standards of our time I am considered culturally aesthetic.
Simply put: I am a pretty white girl told that will marry a well-off pretty white boy, so I don’t need to worry my pretty little head about oppression. Being force fed-that nonsensical bullshit since I was a pretty little white girl only muddles my world view.
It was with great resistance through University that I reluctantly accepted the final facts that drove me to question my ingrained beliefs.
I hate admitting that I live by an unconscious “rape schedule,” in constant fear of the dark, strangers, back alleys, and unlit parking lots.
What is even more embarrassing is that—even at 20 years old—I had lived in fear of growing “old” (as every media source I subscribed to dictated that aging would render me culturally unattractive and hence no longer of any use to society), since my shelf life as a viable member of society seemed limited. Worse was the realization that it is my own unconscious subscription to this doctrine that oppresses me.
It turns out that I am my own worst enemy, and that is a truly terrifying fact to grapple with.
I need feminism because patriarchy doesn’t recognize intersectionality and the intersection of my God-given circumstances of privilege makes me unsuspectingly blind to the fact that simply identifying as a woman in this world not only puts me at a great disadvantage, but at great risk.
This is despite the colourful array of vantage points my colossal privilege in this lifetime has granted me.
I need feminism because this unconscious doctrine has tricked otherwise would-be-feminists into thinking that the war has already been won and that women are the most powerful species—if for no other reason than that (most of the time) they possess a vagina. That gaping propagator has the power to suck in anything and anyone, and house a world of pain.
While part of me thinks that this may be true, the belief that my worth is tied up in my sexuality is a sure-fire indication that I still need feminism.
I need feminism because girls are born thinking they don’t. And though you might think that they are unrelated, I need yoga to keep me humble and looking inward, to continue mining for the truth, as I unearth a lifetime of deeply implanted beliefs about my body, my worth and my privilege.
Author: Donalda Dawn Beeson
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jeffrey Zeldman at Flickr