Joining the Club
My feminist journey began with a cliché.
When I was a freshman at Boston College, I took Intro to Feminism, learned about the myriad injustices facing women today (We only make 80 cents to the male dollar!? Are you serious, professor?) and was forever changed. I declared sociology as my major, became involved in feminist activities on campus, and began volunteering for progressive political campaigns. Since that first college course, my life has more or less revolved around fighting for feminist change.
The political climate at the time was extremely discouraging for women's rights activists. I began college two years after the attacks of September 11, a period in which George W. Bush held a lot of political capital.
Bush had taken many anti-woman actions, including instituting the Global Gag Rule, appointing fringe, anti-choice judges to federal courts, and declaring January 18 "Sanctity of Human Life Day." But perhaps worst for me was his administration's hawkish foreign policy doctrine, which, while less traditionally "anti-feminist," I still viewed as hyper-masculinized and a direct affront to my values as a woman.
It was a difficult time in my life—coming to grips with what it meant to be an adult woman in this culture while living under such an oppressive and hostile government. In college, you're encouraged to become an advocate for the causes you believe in, yet often I felt overwhelmed or even paralyzed by the challenges feminists faced.
A trademark of the Bush administration was its "we-could-care-less-what-you-think" attitude toward those who disagreed with its policies—whether college activists or diplomats at the United Nations—and I wondered if any of my activist efforts would make a dime's worth of difference.
What I've realized since is that feminism isn't just a call to action; it's an invitation to a community. Identifying yourself as a feminist is like learning the handshake to a secret club, only it’s a club
that everybody is allowed to join.
And once you're a part of the feminist club, the world somehow feels easier to manage. You gravitate toward other feminists, and with each connection you make, you feel the chokehold of patriarchy weaken.
In the years since taking that first college course, my feminism has expanded from an outlet for my political frustration to my main source of inspiration.
—Katherine from the West