I was lucky to grow up in a feminist family, even if I didn’t realize that that’s what we were. When I read The Beauty Myth at fifteen, and discovered the word “feminist” in its pages, I took it to my mother and waved it around like a toddler who has just discovered that playing with a particular household item is terribly fun. Look at what I found lying around the house! Did you even know how great this thing is? Look at it, Mom!
I was simultaneously confused that there was a word for this idea – wasn’t it just common sense? – and intrigued by the idea that there was more than a word, but a movement, a whole group of people who would write books and march in the streets for this idea. For all of us to be treated equally.
Where were these people? I could tell that they existed, but I couldn’t find them. I found lots of people for whom gender equality was in the water, for whom it was also common sense, and that was great. I was grateful for it. But where were the feminists? Where were the people who were outraged by continuing inequity? Where were the book writers and the street marchers? I started calling myself a feminist, but outside my own home, I was largely alone. I tried to win my friends over, but they were pretty resistant. We don’t need feminism any more, Chloe. We’re equal now. This isn’t 1950.
I didn’t find those people until I was in college, but I didn’t find them at college. I found them online. When I found Feministing, when I found Feministe, when I found I Blame the Patriarchy and Pam’s House Blend and Jezebel, I found those people. The ones who were as fired up as I was. They were the community I had been looking for. It was a revelation, and such a relief. I wished I had found them when I was fifteen. Inspired by Feministing’s example, I started a campus feminist blog, and started writing, just like my hero Courtney and her friends Jessica, Vanessa, and Samhita.
Now that I write for Feministing, one of the best parts of my job is hearing from teenagers around the country (and the world) that our site is a refuge and an outlet for them. Their families aren’t feminist, their schools are teaching them abstinence-only sex ed, their friends think feminism is extreme or gross or weird. Feministing opens up their world and makes them feel less alone. Hearing that makes my goddamn day. It is such an honour and such a privilege –and such a thrill – to give them what I wish I’d had as a teenager.
There are just a few days left to donate to the Feministing Times Ten Kickstarter, to ensure that we can keep doing that for young people all over the country and around the world. We have more than half a million readers every month, and this redesign will allow us to provide even more of the content, analysis, and activism that opens up their world and helps them become the fired up feminists our world so desperately needs.
Chloe Angyal came out of the womb opinionated.