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Doing Feminism

Posted on the 09 February 2015 by Juliez

Doing Feminism

I remember sitting in a circle of girls on the playground. One girl, I’ll call her Sarah, showed us that she could fold her tongue. I didn’t know how to fold my tongue, but I lied and told my other grade school peers that I could. Sarah declared that she didn’t believe me. I could “talk the talk”, she taunted, but I couldn’t “walk the walk.” I insisted that I could and I just didn’t want to show them. But, Sarah’s logic was sound. Even if I could fold my tongue, saying I did and not showing them was just as good as not knowing how.

It’s important to write about feminism, about equality among genders. I’ve done so many times and I’ve really relished in the recent outpour of speeches, articles, essays and even, tweets that have called to the importance of feminism. The growing climate of encouraging gender equality has been very powerful. Whether in Emma Watson’s address to the UN, the #BeenRapedNeverReported revelation of abuse victims in the wake of allegations against Cosby and Ghomeshi, Beyoncé’s power stance in front of the word “FEMINIST,” or simply by Moms sharing their voices – feminism has been widely talked about in the last year.

It’s no secret that feminists love other feminist speeches, articles, essays and tweets. Feminists want feminism. And, as much as I am so inspired by and in awe of the women and men who have stood up to declare the importance of equality among other women and men, I am a feminist and I already agree with them. It is (or, should be) a fundamental compulsion to want equality among people and that’s what feminism is: equality.

But there are people who won’t agree with ever-plentiful messages concerning feminism because they don’t associate with that word. These are the same people who have a deep misunderstanding of what feminism is. To not want feminism is to not understand it and it’s those very people who must. It’s those who still don’t hold people accountable for their misogynistic Facebook groups and who ignore claims of sexual abuse. It’s those celebrities who don’t believe in feminism because they “love men.” It’s the comedian I saw last week joking about the woman in the catcalling video being a “hot piece of ass.” It’s my guy friend who thinks it’s a “shame” that the “funny” women in comedy aren’t “good-looking.” It’s those who won’t understand it until they see it.

“Talking the talk” is only as good as the ways in which we are “walking the walk.” We have to stop talking about feminism and we have to start doing feminism. Talking about feminism is explaining that women and men are equal. Doing feminism is the act of treating women and men as equals. Talking about feminism will help people learn, but doing feminism will help people understand. Lucky for us, there certainly isn’t a lack of people doing feminism, but it’s important that we start emphasizing so by moving past simply “talking the talk.”

A few examples come to mind when I think about people “walking the walk” in the name of feminism. TV creators Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling (to name a few) have provided us with a wealth of strong female leads. They walk with intellect and sincerity. Kathleen Wynne, Ontario, Canada’s premier elect walks with the influence of women roles in a powerful country. Mo’ne Davis, the first female pitcher in the Little League World Series walks with hard work and athleticism. And, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Winner and unparalleled advocate for the education of young people walks with bravery.

Each of those examples calls to feminism through action. I hope this is the year that feminism transforms from an idea to an action. It’s exciting to think that this could be the year we begin to celebrate, listen to and recognize women every day, whether or not an article like this comes out. For that to happen, we need people to write, talk and tweet about feminism not just for other feminists, but for those who aren’t.

After weeks (which, admittedly, felt like months) of practice, I finally learned to fold my tongue. I ran to show Sarah as soon as I could and when I did, she believed me.

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