Why I Was Wrong About Feminism

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by Sal Mastrocola, 26 Brooklyn, NY

High school romance. No one has any idea what they’re doing. Hormones and emotions running wild. You’re a balloon of euphoria, till a tiny pinprick deflates you hopeless and forlorn. Euphoria. Deflated. Euphoria. Ad nauseam. No one has any idea what they’re doing.

Such was the temporary insanity I was under when I first heard of feminism. The word was one a high school girlfriend of mine identified with. She was a Pacific Northwest neo-hippy who brought a lot of ideologies and belief systems to my attention that I had never come face to face with in my primarily Irish-Catholic section of the Bronx. 

Inevitably, as most of these things go, our callow romance soured, and with it my opinion on feminism. The feminism she projected to me was militant. It was condescending. Insular. It was wrapped in a perspective that the opinions of anyone but patriarchally wronged females themselves were invalid. There wasn’t much room for perspective or dialogue involving men.

That’s not to say that I wasn’t made aware of feminism’s positives. It’s all fuzzy now, but I remember discovering why Planned Parenthood was a service we needed to protect, how women grapple with dozens of social and cultural inequalities, and a few other things that had ashamedly had never even crossed my privileged white male mind. Even more shame on me for letting my perception of the messenger taint my view of the movement. Taking others’ attitude as gospel without doing your homework is an unfortunate, ignorant mistake. One that I was guilty of.

I seldom thought of feminism until many years later, when I met an inspiring and dedicated lady who ignited my curiosity and passion for the movement. That lady was Feminist Wednesday’s founder, Erin Bagwell.

We did, and we still do, have lots of long, engaging discussions about what it means to be a feminist in today’s world. Not a film is watched without exposure of unmistakably flawed gender roles. Not an advertisement goes unexamined, not a newscaster’s opinion ingested without filtering through an ear of equality, progress, and most importantly, healthy skepticism. Erin’s knowledge and insight have truly changed the way I see the world for the better. Feminism is an essential consciousness-raiser, a heat that defrosts enough of your windshield to expose just how unbalanced society is.

It seems overwhelming at first. Once that door has been opened, it’s almost impossible to consume anything without recognizing and subsequently picking apart the dozens of archetypes and assumptions that are endlessly perpetuated upon our malleable brains. But it’s essential, because empowerment and advocacy is born from this understanding. It’s essential that we use the word “feminism”, and show the world that it amounts to much more than the sum of its “man-hating” stereotypes. Let’s encourage dialogue. Let’s make the world better for today’s girls and their daughters. Let’s make feminism a synonym for positive progress. There are loads of people like me who didn’t do their homework. Be the reason that they don’t write feminism off.

Sal is Feminist Wednesday's Copy Editor and the lead singer of the band, No Nets- check out their new single 'Rocks You Could Throw' here [divider type="thin"]

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