By Ryleigh Norgrove
Yesterday, I was called out as a “wannabe feminist” via facebook post. I, Ryleigh Norgrove, am a wannabe feminist in the same way that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. It is just plain wrong. Feminism is a fundamental aspect of my personhood, informing how I interact with our American society.
To disregard me as a feminist is to disregard my experience as a woman in America. Granted, I’m aware of my privilege. I am fortunate to attend this school, or any school for that matter. I am fortunate to live in a country that does not legally prosecute me for my gender. I am white, and am offered opportunity because of this. That being said, walking through this world as a woman, I cannot go unnoticed. The very curve of my hip places a target on my back. It influences how I interact with this world, where I walk, what I wear, and when I wear it.
As I learned to write in cursive and solve multiplication tables this society informed me that my self-worth was placed in the goods between my legs. That no matter how hard I fight, I will never amount to more than an object. I know first hand what it’s like to experience how our justice systems handles cases of rape and sexual assault. I can tell you that police will never believe the bruises on your neck or the redness of your wrists. That no matter how you cry, intent is a difficult thing to prove.
So please, tell me how to be a “wannabe feminist.” In truth, I’d like to be one. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need feminism as desperately as we need it now. As a female, I need feminism. I need it to hear me and acknowledge my story as truth. I need it to support my expression and to remind me that living in fear is submission.
As an individual, I worship language and a well-formed argument. As a society, we view verbal and literary communication as a trade of the past, brittle and feckless. Often finding source and credibility irrelevant, as a collective we dismiss the value of debate and discussion. It is easier to preach from behind a screen than to listen and acknowledge new ideas. The lack of understanding allows rape culture to fester and persist.
And to disregard my experience, disregard my feminism and disregard my validity in a discussion is to perpetuate a culture that condemns women. An unwillingness to recognize your part in this system is just as criminal as participating yourself.