"People either really love me or hate me." - Me
"Yes, I've noticed." - LaneThe most valuable takeaway from the past three years of writing about other women's accomplishments has been creating a sense of accomplishment for myself. Even though I'm sharing my words and thoughts with many people, and constantly referencing "CalistaJones" in my daily life, I view the experience as very personal and internal. This is why any positive feedback is relished. I take it as justification for being me. Justification for thinking thoughts and stating opinions. Fuel to the fire, so to speak.
As I was regaling Lane with my job history and explaining to him about employers who either loved or hated me even though my performance was the same in all positions, I expanded this determination to include most people. Now, I'm not naive enough to think there isn't any gray area, whether it's friends of friends who tolerate my presence, those who brush off my eccentricities as "Just Julia", or legitimate broken relationships. But for the most part it seems, without rhyme or reason, you're either for me or against me.
My mom just loves me, Lane just loves me, my best friends just love me, my blog fans just love me. This doesn't mean they see me as flawless (hardly), it just means they love me despite my imperfections, despite my "Just Julia"-ness. And as Lane wisely pointed out, (which I believe is very true even though I hate it because I want to be better than this), because of the high amount of love and adoration I've luckily received just 'cause, I tend to fixate on those who, umm, don't like me just 'cause.
As hard as I may try to embrace the lyrics of Lane's current fav rap "These haters (radio edit) can't hold me back"*, the haters tend to hold me back. My brain just won't let them go. More than a need to be liked and accepted, I have a desire to be understood and a belief that when I'm disregarded or disliked, it's based off of a misunderstanding. As a coping mechanism, I either lament a misstep I may have made or I zero in on the lack of depth and intelligence in the other party. For instance, after the election, as I watched my friend count depreciate on FB, I worried I had a been a little too "Julia" with one of my more popular updates:
But now, evermore gleefully pleased with our feminist victory, I've decided anyone who bowed out of my Facebook life that day is a big time sore loser, with little appreciation for facts, truth, knowledge, and goodness. Obviously, not an appropriate place to settle but trying to understand the other side or simply letting it be is less satisfying in the short term. I seem to be stuck in a never ending cycle of "Wait, is it me? Oh no, no, it's totally, totally, you." Which is the antithesis of progression, thus a progressive's worst nightmare and not where I want to remain. It's a false sense of overcoming your opposition when you just write them off as insignificant or take their rejection of you as feminist street cred.
Much like "Julia, the person", Feminism, the movement, finds itself on a love/hate plateau. For those who embrace the doctrine and identify as feminists, there is little tolerance towards those who either actively work against gender equality, ie. Rape Idiots, or for those who clearly believe in the basic tenets of feminism yet refuse the label because of its negative connotations. An extreme, "You're either with us or against us" scenario. No gray area! In either case, it's clear misunderstanding is the cause and "Well fuck you then" is not the solution. So what to do...
It's not hard to find examples of the "Feminist Stereotype". When women began protesting Reddit for allowing posts with photos of unsuspecting women's upskirts, the below "Feminist Nazi" Meme was created:
There were several other variants with the same theme all touting this idea that women have it SO good, we just like to make a fuss just 'cause. YOU'RE POSTING PICTURES OF OUR BODIES WITHOUT OUR CONSENT!!!! How is that not just cause for a protest!? Setting aside the Reddit issue, an identical meme was created by feminists to contest the clear stereotype and misrepresentation of the original:
I don't know why people fear feminism or think it is just a bunch of confused women yelling. In my attempts to understand the other side, the best answer I can find would be the popular rigid belief that women can only be happy with their traditional status OR erratically enraged by it. Another either/or, no gray area situation. But that is just not true. Human beings, regardless of gender, have varied likes, dislikes, and experiences. Feminists are human beings so even with their shared beliefs, they represent a wide variety of people.
While I may be an imperfect example, I certainly am a multifaceted feminist. I am in love with a heterosexual white male so I clearly don't want "them" to become disenfranchised; a common misconception. And just because I want more than pink for girls and believe a woman's "place" is anywhere she damn well pleases, I personally love cooking, cleaning, and homemaking and can understand why someone would CHOOSE to focus on those areas. In fact, out of my parents three daughters, I am the most outspoken about feminism while also upholding more of our family traditions. Example:
|My Swedish Heritage Christmas|
Traditions like these remind me of my family so they are important to me. I choose to spend time baking our recipes and hanging our decorations because it feels nice. When women choose to uphold conventional attributes in addition to protesting the establishment, it shakes up the unfavorable characterization of feminists which makes people feel uneasy. The collective OCD of society doesn't like it when women color outside the lines. This female juxtaposition is often manipulated into a hypocrisy, thus permitting the stereotype to persist and memes like the "Feminist Nazi" thrive as a result.
|Feminists have always twisted negative imagery to our favor.|
There are good and comforting parts of our past that should be preserved, but there are better parts of our future that can only be created by questioning and editing what is already accepted. It's all about finding a balance. Many tend to focus on the fear of losing privilege when they really should consider all they will gain from progress. There are so many women (and spoiler alert: men ;) who are shining examples of what can be gained by intentionally questioning comfortable "norms" in the name of bettering life for all.
So maybe, if you've written off this blog (me) before as a waste of your time or in direct conflict with your core values, you should give it (me) another chance. Let's work on understanding one another and appreciating our differences as a way to come together. Maybe this won't be the most successful theme yet but I'm excited about it. And if you've been a long time follower and Julia supporter, THANK YOU! I promise it's just going to keep getting better!
For fun, by the numbers:
50 Posts totaling 88,939 words = basically a book! A slowly written, slowly read book. Cool!
*In no way shape or form are Rick Ross' "Hold Me Back" lyrics a feminist approved manifesto or Lane's favorite rap. ;)
Example of "intentional questioning" by an 8 year old girl: