9 Things Every Feminist Did As A Teenager
Some people enjoy high school. I was not one of them. In fact, I spent at least half my brainpower during the first three years of college attempting to expunge every shred of adolescence from my memory, but with age and distance has come the realization there are some things every feminist teen does — and my teen years, as uncomfortable as they were, were full of them. My experience may have been particularly awkward, but that doesn't mean it was all that unique in the grand scheme of things.
The details usually vary, but the fact that you're growing up in the patriarchy is one detail that doesn't. Once you notice gender inequality in the first place — which can be a big revelation for many teens — you start seeing it everywhere: School, work, at home, and even on the shows you used to like so much as a kid. Most people react in similar ways, which is to say they go from incredulity to wanting to shout feminist rage from the rooftops. Fortunately for teenagers today, they might find fellow feminists among their peers to join in the rooftop shouting. Plenty of myths about feminism persist even in 2016, but all things considered, gender equality is doing fairly well for itself in mainstream culture.
That being said, no matter where or when you were born, chances are you'll recognize most of the following parts of being a feminist teen.
1. Starting To Analyze Pop Culture And Feeling Super Conflicted
It isn’t until adolescence that many people begin to analyze pop culture on a deeper level — hence the popularity of all those “things you never noticed in children’s movies” articles. Unfortunately, most media is hella sexist, and your teenage years are when you begin to weigh your enjoyment of pop culture against its cultural ramifications.
2. Discovering Feminist Media
Whether your first encounter came in the form of '90s girl-power band Bikini Kill, Margaret Atwood’s body of work, everything Beyonce has ever created, or any of the other lovely feminist works out there, you were probably overjoyed to discover other people were fed up with the patriarchy and devoured everything you could get your hands on. There’s also at least a 95 percent chance you considered getting an Audre Lorde quote tattooed somewhere on your body.
3. Debating Gender With Anyone And Everyone
In my experience, learning to pick your battles is an important part of being a feminist. The patriarchy is so pervasive that it’s literally impossible to point out sexism and misogyny every time you encounter it, not to mention the fact that it’s emotionally exhausting — but when you’re a teenager, you might not have figured out your personal balance yet.
4. Going On Seriously Awkward Dates
Dating in high school is painfully awkward. Dating in high school as a feminist is even worse. Whether you identify a dude, lady, or in between, trying to navigate outdated traditions and gender norms while also figuring out all the other aspects of dating is The Worst, capital letters very much necessary.
Side note: If there are any teens reading this, I’m afraid to say dating is still super awkward even as an adult, just on a lesser scale.
5. Wanting To Move Thousands Of Miles Away
Virtually every teenager feels like they’re the odd one out, and if you’re a feminist, you might feel even more alienated from your peers and family. (However, it’s worth asking about their thoughts on gender equality, rather than just assuming.) Whether you end up leaving town or sticking around after high school, most people find themselves yearning to be anywhere but their hometown — at least for a little while.
6. Wearing Whatever The Heck You Wanted
Adolescence is the perfect time to experiment with style, and feminist teens usually couldn't care less about gendered clothing. Dudes wearing skirts to first period? Ladies wearing suits to prom? Genderfluid people styling elaborately dyed mohawks? It’s all good, even if the school administration may disagree.
7. Openly Sharing About Your Period (And Possibly Oversharing)
Although I can’t speak for anyone else, it took me several years to get used to my period – but then I made a total 180 after I realized how much of my embarrassment was the result of cultural stigmas surrounding menstruation. To be honest, it might have been a little overboard – breaking down taboos is one thing, but wearing (unused) tampons as a necklace might be a little much. Stil, though – you do you and all that (and I definitely did me).
8. Experimenting With Body Hair
In the same way that adolescents tend to experiment with style, many young feminists switch things up with their body hair when they realize they don’t have to do what society dictates.
9. Realizing The Patriarchy Affects Everyone Differently
Any psychologist will tell you childhood is incredibly self-centered, but during adolescence, people usually expand their understanding of the world. As a result, teenage years are usually when feminists start realizing that not everyone experiences the patriarchy in the same way, but we’re still all in it together.