By: Emily Blum
Becoming an ally to any marginalized, oppressed group of people is not an easy process. It requires patience. Diligence. Humility. It means learning to forgive yourself for making mistakes, and learning to forgive others. For some, it means learning how to turn white-hot anger into something warm enough for people to grasp, to understand. For others, it means mustering up courage to say anything at all. It means completely rewiring your brain, learning how to understand that each person’s life is entirely their own, that all you can do is go out into the world every day and try to bring a little love and a little liberation to it.
It means refusing to use not only words that are wrong by definition, but words that don’t feel right on a tongue that promised to stand for righteousness and equity. It means finding out what you’re made of, someone who rises in the face of opposition, or someone who falls. It means knowing that the popular decision is not always the right one. It means knowing that there will be many instances where you’ll be alone in a room with a multitude of cold eyes boring into you, a multitude of sneering lips demanding that you prove to them that your cause is worthy, that your plight to ensure respect for all human beings is worthy. It means knowing that sometimes people are determined to live a life devoid of love and acceptance, and you simply can’t fix stupid. It means faith in yourself, in your fellow allies, in the people you stand for.
Feminism is a movement that faces vehement opposition. People are afraid. People are ignorant. People are stubborn. I do understand why people are so tentative to open their eyes. The sunlight is blinding when you’ve lived in darkness all your life. Acknowledging how much work there is to be done before we can achieve across-the-board equality is disheartening. What we’re striving to do isn’t something that can be accomplished by a bill. No laws, no restrictions, no mandates are going to remedy the system. We’ve got to start from the ground up; start from the roots. It’s an arduous process, and it’s going to take time and energy.
But it’s also a pretty rad movement. Contrary to popular belief, we’re not a cult. We believe in support. We believe community. We believe in the safety and happiness of boys and girls. We believe in having fun, existing without restrictions or expectations. We believe in self-care and confidence. We believe in working out and pigging out. In all bodies, in all personalities, all nationalities. We love painting nails and building stuff, driving in fast cars, wearing dresses and pants and shaving and not shaving, makeup and no makeup, getting married and having children and staying single. We love playing guitar and dancing and scream-singing and laughing and crying and being angry and being kind and being emotional and experiencing every aspect of being human without judgment. We’re on this earth for a limited amount of time, and it’s blasphemous to think that even a second of that time should be dictated by people too afraid to let themselves exist without pigeonholes and guidelines.
The road is long and it is daunting, I know. But the alternative— living a narrow life, a black-and-white life, a life that was created by our ancestors and perpetuated by their sons— seems infinitely worse. We reap what we sow, so let’s uproot the weeds that’ve been sucking us all dry for so long and plant something new.