don't be scared to call yourself a feminist

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. You can still shave your legs if you want to. You can still go to church if that’s your thing. You can wear makeup or no makeup, shave your head, put in your hot rollers. Do you want to wear a bra today? I usually do, but that’s just me. Do you want to eat Paleo? Vegan? You can choose.

Don’t be scared that being a feminist means your choices are all made for you. That’s not what it means. That’s the opposite of what it means.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. Your dick won’t fall off. You won’t start crying at Christmas commercials. Your manhood will remain intact. In fact, it might even grow.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. Your dad won’t clear his throat at the table, then get up slowly, and leave. Well, he might. But didn’t he do that when you told him you were majoring in Communications, too, though? Didn’t he do that when he caught you bopping your head to Rihanna? I mean. You’ve survived the “ahem” before. You might feel yourself drift away from some of your friends, that’s true. That could happen. What can I say? People grow and change. It’s not the feminism’s fault. You’ve lost friends over money and unreturned CDs and alcoholism, too. Sometimes you have to keep moving forward.

Don’t be scared. You won’t have to learn to bake, or change the oil. Feminism is not a fresh list of boxes to check. Feminism is a fresh pencil with an eraser. Erase the boxes. Draw what you want.

You won’t have start walking through parks barefoot in capri pants and a vest. Unless that sounds fun, in which case, get after it, Frodo! Live your best life!

Don’t be scared that being a feminist means you have to become more feminine. That’s not what it means. It means you get to choose your own masculinity, femininity, ungendered personhood, toenail polish, whatever. Try on a drapey scoop-neck tee. Try on a twirly skirt. Look at yourself and say, “This is me in a twirly skirt. Do I like it?” You might go back to your sweatshirt and jeans. I usually do.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. There is no initiation rite. There is no mandatory minimum daily use of the word “patriarchy.” There is no mandatory anything, except you must include people. All the people. Nonnegotiable.

Don’t be fooled by the brevity of that sentence. Include all people. It’s simple, but not easy.

You need not sacrifice unborn babies to win a place at the table. You need not climb upon the bodies of less fluent feminists to declare yourself Chief Feminist. In fact, don’t.

You need not remove your veil, cut off your jeans, burn your bra, step into a suit of wool or armor. You need not clothe yourself in someone else’s expectations. Erase that box. That’s the opposite of feminism.

All that’s required is for you to start by saying, “I care. I’m ready to listen and learn. And I know I’ve got a lot to unlearn.” Hey, me too! For example, I can sing an ode to testicles while I’m sitting in church, but I still blush when I type the word, “vulva.” I’m not ashamed of my body, but I’m still embarrassed by it. I’m working on it. Vulva. See? Vulva. And breeeeathe…

Ain’t nobody finished, babe. We’re all working.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. You don’t have to like all the other feminists. You don’t have to always love all feminism. Sometimes feminism bugs me. Sometimes my husband bugs me, too. But I’m not breaking up my family. When feminism leaves its socks on the floor, I’m not filing for divorce. I’m getting my ass in a fight to save the relationship.

You don’t have to love all the women. I despise a lot of women. But I still think they should get to talk, vote, reproduce on their own terms, and work in safe environments.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. You will still love the men who’ve earned your love. You will reserve the right to change your mind.

You will still laugh. You won’t shrivel into a humorless shrew. There are so many funny feminists. You’ll just start laughing at the pricks, instead of at their jokes.

Honestly, the pricks are way funnier than their words or ideas. They don’t even mean to be, but they are.

Don’t be scared to call yourself a feminist. You won’t have to read and talk about rape and murder and abortion all day long. Feminism doesn’t mean you are forced daily into a front-row seat at the misery matinee. It means we saved a seat for you, for whenever you need it. It means you can look around and see you’re not the only one at the show.

You can talk about your pain. I’ll listen and believe you.

You can also talk about music, books, cars, coffee, health care, education, leggings, sex work, ripe cherries, politics, environmental protection, chapstick, pancakes, criminal justice reform, football, red carpet fashion, accessibility, or how the camera is on the new iPhone.

You can just talk. I’m listening. I believe you.

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Also, PS, this happened:

First of all,  sir , these are culottes    HOW DARE YOU

First of all, sir, these are culottes