I know guys, 2 posts in a really short amount of time. But I haven’t been consistently writing to you in a while and now the floodgates have opened.
My confidence has really slipped lately. I’ve gone back to thinking that I’m worthless and that my experiences don’t matter. So then what’s the point of sharing them? But I never started this blog to matter. I started it because I know I’m not the only one going through the things I’m going through. And if there is one other person that can relate to what I write, then I’ve done exactly what I set out to do.
So here goes this week’s confession:
I am a feminist.
It’s weird to announce that because it’s been such a given for me this past year. It’s also weird to announce because if you knew me through my 25th birthday, you probably heard me say over and over again, quite adamantly and staunchly, that I was not, in fact, a feminist.
But now, I am.
So what changed? Well, honestly, for a while I felt like people were forcing the feminist title on me. I’ve always liked things that a lot of women turn away from. I enjoyed working with tools from a very young age. I always excelled at math and science. And I happened to grow up in a time in the U.S. when people were really focused on encouraging girls to do more of that stuff.
As a result of my strengths and interests, and the time I grew up in, I ended up studying mechanical engineering and going into the automotive industry.
And never did I feel like a feminist. I certainly didn’t want to be labeled one.
A lot of it had to do with my intention. I never made any decision I made because I wanted to pave the way for women. And my gender was never on my mind when I made those decisions.
A lot of it has to do with society. I went into all of these things at a time when being a woman helped me out. Everyone wanted to see more women in these areas. And my odds of getting in, because I was a woman, increased. That was a very bad experience for me. It made me feel like I didn’t earn my accomplishments. It made me feel like I just got them because of my gender. And it didn’t help that a lot of people were treating me that way. So suffice it to say, it was easier to ignore my gender than to accept that it played any role in my career.
But then, a year ago, something really big happened, and it changed my view of all of this.
A year ago, for the first time, I faced sexism heads on, no question, no pretending it was anything else.
It was when I started in my current job. I had left my interview on cloud nine. Knowing that I had nailed it. Knowing that the company was a place I wanted to work. They were, and still are, very focused on improving their work environment, and that’s something I so desperately wanted to help with. I got the job off three days after the interview.
On my first day, a couple weeks later, I found out that my hiring manager had also had an administrative position open in his group. I found this out because every person he introduced me to assumed that was the role I was hired to fill. Every. Single. One. They were all surprised that not only was I an engineer, but I also had a masters degree and three years work experience in the automotive industry. I was crest fallen. I had never been faced with anything like this before. It ignited something in me. It ignited my need to change that assumption.
For a while, I did nothing. I told people my story. I told people what happened.
But then, as I started leaning into the body-love movement and learning more about the cultural implications of the diet-culture I had been raised in. I suddenly had another example of how sexism had impacted my life.
I warched Miss Representation and started realizing that so much of what I believe about myself as a woman was never directly taught to me, I was just immersed in it for so many years that I assumed it.
I started volunteering with a group called Girls, Inc. of the Pacific Northwest which works with girls to empower them. Just empower them. Not empower them to do anything specific.
I went and recruited new female engineers for my company at the Society of Women Engineers conference in Philadelphia. I got to explain to my coworkers that no, we didn’t just hand out offers to every woman with an engineering degree. We found ones that were smart, talented, and capable.
I read and talked and discussed and watched and educated and discussed some more. Not just about sexism and feminism, but a lot more social issues. I realized how ignorant I had been for so long.
I got behind Clinton, for many reasons, but mainly for what she represented. Girls would grow up knowing they too could be president. It wouldn’t be some far out goal. People would no longer lovingly laugh when their daughters when they said, I want to be president some day. Shaking their head slightly. Knowing how slim the chances of that are. Not wanting to burst their kid’s bubble.
I used to be scared to label myself as a feminist. I didn’t want to make other people uncomfortable.
Man that pisses me off now.
I am a feminist. I believe in the complete equal treatment of women. Actually, that expands beyond women. I believe everyone should be treated equally.
I see every day how growing up in a male-dominated society, in the even more male-dominated environment of the automotive engineering world, has stunted my development and growth.
I truly believe that if we live in a world where women are equal, everyone will benefit, not just women. It makes me mad that when I tell some men that I’m a feminist they think I’m at war with men. I’m not. I think men will benefit from an equal world too.
Two years ago, if someone asked me if I was a feminist, I was quick to correct them and tell them no! Goodness no. I’m anything but.
But now, I want to scream it to the world. So instead, I’m announcing it online. I’m a feminist. I believe the world will be a better place when everyone, different genders, races, religions, orientations, cultures, gets equal treatment.
I understand some people are scared of that. Mainly the people who believe that they reap the benefits of this bigoted world we live in. If that’s you, I’d love to sit down and talk to you sometime. Maybe calm your fears. Maybe just allow you to get some stuff off your chest.
I am a feminist.