It continues to baffle me that not every, single person identifies as a feminist. It really, honestly does. And before everybody starts lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks, listen.
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too. Seems simple enough, right?
Being a teenage feminist has such a negative connotation. To most, being a feminist in general does, but something about feminists of the teenage variety attract an absurd amount of attention.
Among a small percentage of my friends and peers, I have a little bit of a reputation of being a "hot-headed feminist."
This statement is probably not completely untrue because of my unfailing support for gender equality, but what bothers me is the negative reputation that comes along with that label.
For most, it feels like sometimes you have to "come out" as a feminist, like it is something that is not just a given. When I began to identify as a feminist, most people said ridiculously rude things, like it was just some angsty teenage phase, instead of a long standing support of something that I had just recently begun to put a label on.
When teenage feminists do "come out" as feminists and express their support for women's rights, they are shushed by this strange taboo that if you are a feminist you must fit into a tired stereotype.
So, thinking about this, I wanted to make somewhat of a crash course in teenage feminism. (Quick reminder: I don't call myself an expert or anything of the sorts, and these are just some hints and tips that have worked for me.)
First off, if you want to identify as a feminist you must agree:
All men and women deserve complete equality.
If you answered yes to that, you are most certainly a feminist.
Another thing that I find both girls and boys run into when discussing feminism are those stereotypes that surround it. Just to be clear, to be a feminist you do not have to be a lesbian, man-hater, communist, hippy or anything in between.
And to be a feminist, you may also be a Christian, Muslim, a boy, rich, poor, gay or straight and so on.
Feminism is a movement for equality and acceptance, and people who make up lists of specific rules and requirements that supposedly validate your feminist devotion are not really getting the "big picture" of being a feminist.
So, now that you're hopefully a little bit more interested in being feminist, where should you start?
Well, clothes and other various forms of apparel. Obviously. I'm a big fan of a shirt that says, "A woman's place is in the House and Senate" and temporary tattoos with female symbols on them. Luckily, most feminist artists and designers have really cool products so that you can show everybody your stances on gender equality.
Another suggestion for first time feminists is to make some general Google searches about topics you're interested in. This could include the definition of patriarchy, or a specific culture's view on gender equality or how men play into feminism -- just to name a few.
I remember feeling ridiculous because I didn't know what slut-shaming was the first time somebody brought it up. Honestly, us feminists are a pretty friendly bunch -- ask anybody who identifies as a "practicing feminist" and they will usually be pretty happy to impart their knowledge.
So now that you've made some Google searches and you're probably feeling pretty ready to start a small uprising, it's a good time to read some feminist literature.
I suggest you check out some blogs and recently published books. Read a wide range of writers, male and female and of all eras.
There will most definitely be some ideas in these readings that you don't agree with, but remember that one person's views don't reflect all feminists.
I suggest vloggers like Hayley G Hoover and Rosianna Halse Rojas, books like How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and of course, Feminist Ryan Gosling pictures. My own personal favorite are the Rookie Yearbooks. Rookiemag.com has been such a great resource and I turn all of my friends who ask me about feminism to it. This website is so great, especially for teenage girls who write, and never fails to keep me entertained -- and it's beautiful, which really makes you feel trendy.
Right now is also a good time to find an indigent look of anger, as suggested by Over17Mirrors on YouTube. Find a really great face to express how you feel and continue to use it whenever your teachers, family members or friends says something that sparks the little feminist flame inside of you. It will definitely make people uncomfortable and that always feels successful.
And finally, remember that feminism is not something that only you can be passionate about -- find women that stand up for what you believe. For me, it's Tina Fey and Tavi Gevinson and supporting the content they are creating.
You're going to get a lot of uninterested comments on your Instagram when you post anything to do with gasp women's rights, but by supporting and spreading what you believe in, you're promoting awareness for inequalities.
To quote the founder of Rookie and my forever platonic girl crush, Tavi Gevinson, "Feminism is not a rulebook, it's a discussion, a conversation, a process."
So go on young feminists, and for all that is grandmotherly, make me proud.