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coming out & standing up for what i believe in.

August 25, 2011

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For most of my life, the extent of my political current events knowledge began and ended with the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. A high school summer internship with my congresswoman changed all that and I began devouring the Times and the Post, eager for more information so I could strike out on my own and form opinions for myself.

College saw the peak of my passionate political participation. My freshman and sophomore year brought avid political discussion and involvement with Tufts Democrats. My junior year was marked by the election of President Obama and the ensuing excitement and optimism that came with a “new age of politics.”

And then senior year, as was the case with many of my other hobbies, I lost interest. Maybe I’d already moved on in my mind as I had been contemplating getting my MBA online and/or finding a job. Blame it on the persistent desire to move on to the next chapter of my life, the burn out I felt after 4 years of being a political science major, or even the general feeling of disinterest in things that once moved me. I was 22 years old and I took my environment for granted.

Attending a very liberal university in a very liberal state, I never once questioned my rights as a woman or citizen. I was comfortable in my bubble of activism, gay acceptance, and general progressiveness. I even complained about it numerous times, criticizing the “delusional liberals” who thought a walk-out would end the War in Iraq and at those who cried foul at every small injustice that crossed their paths. I rolled my eyes at my fellow classmates wearing their “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE” t-shirts. I took it for granted that I lived in a state that was the first to require universal health insurance for its inhabitants, that supported equal marriage rights for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, and where a Planned Parenthood was within walking distance of my house. None of this was remarkable to me; it just was.

Then I moved to the South. While Atlanta is a moderately liberal urban microcosm, the state as a whole is overwhelmingly conservative. My comfortable bubble of liberalism burst, and I’ve spent the last year in various stages of rage, sadness and disbelief at the current political agenda.

“I have never felt my right as a woman was more threatened than I do today.”1

I can’t blame it entirely on being in the South. Perhaps I feel it more strongly here than I would somewhere else, but it exists across the country. This movement to regress as a society, to return to puritanical times and apparently to embrace denial, terrifies me. Michele Bachmann, with her rampant, “100 per cent pro-life” stance (even in the case of rape or incest)2 and her support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage3, is negating decades of social progress with her every comment.

Thanks to Bachmann and the rest of the Tea Party, I’ve recently reignited the political sphere of my brain and I’m no longer taking my rights as a woman, and as an American, for granted. I’m tired of politicians ignoring report after report detailing how abstinence-only education is ineffective in curbing teenage pregnancies, and of them refusing to believe that no federal money funds abortions performed at Planned Parenthood. I’m sick of their attempts to ban gay marriage in the Constitution when it should never have become a political issue in the first place. And I can’t stay quiet any longer when the media, politicians and prosecutors victim-blame in cases of rape where a woman’s past is scrutinized and used as a basis for credibility.

I’m at a point where this stuff worries me. I feel as though we as a nation are on the precipice of major change and what happens in the next few years can permanently and drastically alter the direction we as a country are heading, as well as the example we set for the rest of the world.

And for that reason and myriad of others, I am coming out to you today.

My name is Jenn and I am a feminist.

And I’m really proud of it.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley August 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I went through a phase in college when I was first confronted with feminist ideas (like, the real ones and not just what I thought feminism was) where I was uncomfortable with the label. It took me a while to call myself a feminist. That’s one reason I’d really like to teach undergrads. I want to reach them at that point in their lives where they’re first dealing with these issues.

I agree that we seem to be regressing, but we’re also moving forward at the same time, and it’s hard for me to understand how those two work together. Initially, I didn’t take the regression seriously. I don’t worry about Palin or Bachmann. But the serious attacks on Planned Parenthood were my wake up call that we can’t just sit on progress or expect things to keep moving forward without a lot of hard work.

Thanks for writing this post!
Ashley´s last blog post ..The Forgotten Month (July)

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Heather August 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

My name is Heather and I am a feminist.
And I’m really proud of it.

Can I just tell you how much I love your face? Because I do…..LOTS! As the “black sheep” in my family (I’m a registered Democrat), I face that a lot. I also am from/live in the South. They have a different way of thinking down here.

Love your face so much! You are awesome and rock so hard <3
Heather´s last blog post ..Wine and Love v15

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Leah August 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Awesome. Awesome post. I’m proud to know you!

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Rebekah August 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I’ve become entirely disillusioned with politics lately – the divisive rhetoric from both sides is just starting to disgust me more than ignite my desire to do something. There’s no one to support when no one believes in and will support the same set of things I believe in. I don’t believe in a nanny state but I do think we should have a welfare system. I do think it needs massive reform. I believe drug testing for welfare recipients is not a violation of their human rights. I believe people need better access to healthcare in this country but I think that healthcare cost-cutting and education must be addressed NOW. I think people and businesses should pay fair taxes, but I believe short-term tax breaks may be necessary on a local level to lure businesses for long-term good (see St. Louis, RIGHT NOW). I support capital punishment. I am pro-choice. I support private gun ownership and concealed carry and the Castle Doctrine. I support legal immigration and a tighter border control. I want religion out of my government. I wish people would stop supporting Obama just because he’s black. I wish people would stop failing to support Obama because he’s black.

Voting for anyone has become a “lesser of the two evils” proposition. I can only support causes now, not candidates.
Rebekah´s last blog post ..Something is chasing me

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thatShortChick August 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

::big, thunderous applause:: I 100% agree with you. When I moved to Charlotte (which is pretty similar to the cultural, social & political climate of Atlanta) almost 5 years ago, I had the strongest slap of culture shock the first year. I’ve been freakishly afraid of Michelle Bachmann ever since I saw George Stephanopolous interview her on GMA about the state of Egypt (when they were having riots) and her answers were beyond ridiculous. So ridiculous, that you could even hear members of the audience in the studio laughing. She is a threat and although I don’t expect her to win the presidency, the fact that she has gained as much national attention and support as she has, it’s a scary thing because she (any many other like-minded policitians) is a threat to the country’s progression.

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Alana Margaret August 25, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Love it!

Also, I think I totally have a post that ends the same way. Or very similarly. Wear the label proudly.
Alana Margaret´s last blog post ..Live through this

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doniree August 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Standing ovation.
doniree´s last blog post ..2010 in Photo Booths

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Micah August 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

Love this post, Jenn!! A lot of women are afraid to use this “f” word to describe themselves, yet they embrace the very freedoms the feminist movement brought to them. I took a women’s history course in college, and that is where I learned the truth about the struggles toward the rights I take for granted today. I will never be ashamed to call myself a feminist, and I wish people would look at the core meaning before they dismiss it as “man-hating.”
Micah´s last blog post ..Friday Fiver: Back to school

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terra August 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hell, yes! This is a topic that’s been on my mind a lot lately, especially since I live in the South too and since I work in the military, as a Soldier, and being a lady Soldier is a unique and strange place to be. I spent way too much time yesterday venting to my husband (who is also my co-worker) about how frustrated and pissed off I was about the state of things, about how if you’re a woman in uniform you’re basically just expected to shut up and put up with at least a modicum of bullshit, or be labeled a cry baby. I’m so done with it.

Anyway, that’s a rant for another time. I agree that we seem to be going backwards. I always thought I’d be excited about the day we got possible women as candidates for president, but with women like Sarah Palin and Bachman, it just depresses me. Women attacking things that protect and support other women boggles my mind and why issues like gay marriage and a woman’s right to do what she wants her body is beyond me.

So…um…YAY FOR FEMINISM & STANDING UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT!
terra´s last blog post ..This internet thing is really catching on, the 20SB Summit and one ugly cry.

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Kelly L August 26, 2011 at 9:08 pm

*cheers*

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Derek August 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

Fucking brilliant.

My name is Derek, and I’m a feminist too.

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Michael August 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I hope our country is going on a better path….
Michael´s last blog post ..3D Animation Jobs

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JP August 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Came across this via Gchat. I was ready to dislike this post, thinking that you would be a “delusional liberal” like the ones you complained about as a Jumbo. But seriously — well done. Sometimes, living in the best state in America, I forget why I call myself a progressive. This reminded me.

Good stuff.

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Tanya September 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

This is GOOD stuff! I’m glad to hear your sleeping Giant has been re-awakened and I’m anxious to see what will develop from this! Keep us posted ;-)

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Chelsea Talks Smack September 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

FUCKIN RAAAAAAH! I LOVE THIS.

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leahchristine September 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm

It’s too bad we have to be labeled feminists just for believing in, what should be, basic human rights. Great post!
leahchristine´s last blog post ..I’m turning into a weirdo

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Larissa September 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

My name is Larissa and I’m also a feminist!!!!
Larissa´s last blog post ..Hair removal methods

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sapir September 13, 2011 at 7:45 am

and im proud of you! thank you for writing this and share with us!
i think that people can understand these days the power of women!
sapir´s last blog post ..Diet for Life

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Katherine September 16, 2011 at 2:21 am

I know that you already know this, but in case you forgot for any reason, I love you.
Katherine´s last blog post ..Indifferent

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