Kids For She Blog Post
We’d made an unspoken decision not to use the “F-word.” It seemed too strong, offensive even. We didn’t want to alienate anyone. In fact, somehow we felt that we had to appeal to everyone. It perfectly encompassed our mission as a club, but to use the word in the name--too aggressive. After two hours at Blu Jam Cafe, brainstorming and agonizing over potential names that strategically avoided the word, we finally compromised with an acronym: FITE Club, Feminists Inch Toward Equality. We would use the word, but we wouldn’t explicitly say it.
I live and have always lived in Los Angeles, California, arguably one of the most liberal-minded cities in America. Furthermore, I attend a private school in one of the most liberal pockets of Los Angeles. Basically, you’d have to spend some time looking before you found a place more open to feminist ideas. Why then were we so afraid to use the word? All over Los Angeles minority and oppressed groups are kicking stigmas to the curb and reclaiming offensive words and tackling traditional thinking. And yet, at Club Fest, the annual lunchtime club sign-up hour, I asked a girl in my grade if she wanted to be a member of FITE Club...and she said no. Never one to accept an answer such as that, I asked her why. “I just don’t want a sweatshirt that says ‘feminist’ on it. I don’t want guys to think I hate them,” is what I got. I asked myself how she could say something like that, how she could perpetuate the stigma attached to the pursuit of gender equality and allow it to intimidate her into avoiding the issue completely. I realize now that she’d merely articulated what we’d been too proud to admit. She didn’t want the sweatshirt for the same reason we didn’t want to use the word. And it is that same reason that holds us back.
We need to be perfect. We’ve been taught to keep our legs crossed and our voices down. We’ve been taught never to have a hair out of place or a fingernail chipped. They seem like small things to be aware of on a daily basis, but this constant awareness of how we’re supposed to look and behave keeps us from doing things like accepting a label like feminist, that brands us a proponent of gender equality, a wave-maker, an offender. That girl aptly summarized our kryptonite as a movement when she said that she doesn’t want guys to think she hates them. It’s human nature to want to be liked. But it’s also human nature to err and to fail and to be better because of that failure.
By Celine Farhadi