Feminism as a Lifestyle

darraghDarragh Dandurand, 22 As a kid I remember being acutely aware of gender relations and issues of inequality between women and men. I constantly asked questions about why it seemed that the self-confidence of most women was directly linked to the amount of makeup they were wearing and why men could urinate outside and walk around shirtless. I wanted to know why my brilliant LEGO creations were not as impressive as the curtsey I was trained to perform when I greeted my older relatives. And I desperately wanted to find out which of my cultural foremothers was just so terrible that when boys were called out for “acting like a girl” it was figuratively the worst thing that could ever happen to them.

I was probably about 15 years old when I “found” feminism. I was young, naïve and full of rage for what I would later find out is called “the patriarchy.” I was angry because I realized that no matter how much I prayed to The Great Feminist in the Sky (Can I get an ‘A(wo)men?’), I was quickly hurdling into a world where my body would be constantly judged, my gender was regarded as weak in contrast to its better half, and my sex was either an excuse, a justification or a pity, depending upon who you asked.

By the time I got to college, I knew I wanted to study media, particularly in relation to women. I openly championed any lovely ladies (or anyone else) who took on the tiring challenge of beating back the constant fire of gender conventions by bravely making a name in entertainment. But it was also at this time in my young feministhood that I began to wage a war on a regular basis. Every time I noticed someone mis-gendering a trans*person, every time I heard the word ‘pussy’ or ‘cunt,’ every time I saw a man check out a woman on public transit, I launched a full frontal attack. I moved through this period in my life ungracefully as I struggled with feminist goggles on, showing me all the ways in which the world was broken. Devastated at only 19, I found solace in the community of my Women’s, Gender and LGBT study buddies at university.

I put an exorbitant amount of time and money into several classes over several years to finally find access to the words, texts and ideas I needed to express my observations about gender and sex and women’s rights. I suddenly was seeing intersections between media studies, gender identity and public health. I started speaking out about sexual assault awareness and advocating for reproductive rights. My academics became my activism and my activism has become my life. With my notion of feminism forever changed, my wars became less frequent and I conserved my energy for picking battles, the ones I wanted to fight. Feminism was no longer simply an identity, but instead it is now a lifestyle, a study, a practice and a way to try to make the world a little bit better.

Darragh likes buying art from her artistic friends, doing the dishes and pretending that Al Gore invented the Internet. She is a friend to all cats, wishes that someone would invent a way to make a chocolate-only diet healthy and is terrified of trying to match patterned pants with any other item of clothing.

Your StoriesErin Bagwell