When did you first identify as feminist?

Recently I wrote for Mamafesto about how and when I came to identify as feminist. (Avital Nathman is still looking for other feminist contributors, so….). Then just this week I came across photos of me from that time. I was twelve or thirteen years old. Didn’t know any other feminists. Would have loved the Internet, but it was the ’80s.  I wonder what year it was when I stopped wearing those sunglasses?

Categories: gender & feminism, Sociology

11 replies

  1. Is that…it is! A string of pearls with a knot in it! You must be my age.
    I think it was round about this age for me, too (beginning to identify as a feminist).

  2. Around about that age, I think? Definitely by 15. Which is interesting, as I don’t remember really identifying my own problems as related to gender, at the time. Although I was a target of a months-long sexual harassment campaign at about that time. But I don’t know that I thought something adults came up with (like feminism) was likely to help.

  3. Oh, Mary, how horrible. 😦

    I was sixteen, and had just discovered feminist science fiction. 🙂

  4. Makes me curious about what everyone’s first feminist texts were (or media in general).
    My mother loaned me her copy of The Female Eunuch, and I also read The Beauty Myth and Damned Whores and God’s Police while in high school (and Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women!). They were all from the town library. I don’t think I read any fiction that would be described as feminist until I was over 25.

  5. We have just bought the new translation of Simone’s “The Second Sex”.
    The difference between this and the original 1949 translation/edition is huge, not only in the quantity [this one is about a third longer] but also the quality where Simone’s original text was frequently, what word can I use, not ‘emasculated’ surely, maybe ‘masculated’?
    Anyway for the boomer generation this was a seminal [oops] text and the new translation is a vast improvent and well worth reading.

  6. I’m pretty sure I’d read Mary Wollstonecraft and Eva Cox (My mum was a big fan), plus a bunch of riot-grrl-esque zines and internet published things. I was already identifying as feminist but the first feminist text I clearly remember reading by name was Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After (WTF, 15 year old self?!).

  7. Hedgepig – yes, yes it is. The preppy look of the 80s. Great observational skills.

  8. Imma gonna comment here instead of MamaFesto because I don’t want an google or openID account. Sorry if this is a bit disconnected as a result.
    I just wanted to say that I loved your paragraph about it taking years to understand intersectionality because it speaks to my own experience. I became feminist (although I didn’t know or use the term) at a very young age because the sexism (outright chauvinism) in my life became overwhelmingly apparent when my first brother was born. I was three. I’m sure it took some time for me to understand why things were not fair and I doubt I could articulate it beyond, “but why does he get when we don’t”? It was also a very christian fundamentalist household so there was a lot of stuff to unpack there too.
    I very nearly didn’t become a true feminist – I nearly stopped at “exceptional girl/woman” and “not a feminist, I’m an equalist” on the path, but thank goodness I kept going because I don’t think I would have grokked intersectionality at all without becoming a feminist. But I didn’t learn over night. Sure, I was a progressive, I had GLBT, non-neurotypical, and differently abled friends and roommates, I had friends and lovers of other races, but I still didn’t get it. I thought I did but hoo boy like most white people, I was still soaking in kyriarchy and greasing its wheels. Without thinking I would accept stereotypes, laugh at inappropriate jokes, and generally be a really sucky ally because I didn’t even see the problem unless it was really blatant.
    I don’t have any children, but there are a lot of children in my life. I try to use teaching moments to talk about these sorts of things, to try to pass on some of this awareness so that their road to “getting it” is further along than mine, but there is only so far that I can take them as a non-parent. Kudos to everyone who is a parent and giving their kids a head-start on that path. It’s a long hard road and most society is encouraging us (the privileged) to take the easy path instead. But it’s the hard road that leads to a better world.

  9. Can’t remember what age, early 1970’s but the Greer’s The Female Eunuch had a lot to do with it. My dad used to carry on about bra burning and strident women who should keep their mouths shut. My mum was always a feminist, depsite doing all the housework and holding down a full time job but it took me a while to recognise it.
    By the time I had an unwanted pregnancy at 16 and met the fabulous women working in the abortion and women’s health movement – at Control and Preterm in Sydney, the die was cast. I did my student prac in social work at Darling St Womens Health Centre, where they insisted on paying me and treated me like any other member of the collective. Ah, halcyon days!

  10. I think I was a feminist long, long before I was able to actually identify as one. Mostly due to very poor self esteem – I didn’t believe I was worth as much as other women, so I didn’t believe that I could be a feminist too.
    So as far as finding feminism as part of my identity, I was a late starter, in my mid-30’s, as I began to mend the trauma of my past. In fact, I remember the first time I “came out” publicly as a proud fat feminist, and that was September last year at the first Australian Fat Studies conference, which was an incredibly empowering event for me.
    I haven’t looked back since.

  11. Love these stories everyone.

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