5 Little Ways Feminism Makes Me a Better Writer
There are a lot of ways that becoming a feminist changes you, affecting the way that you think and act and see the world. For me, feminism also makes me a better writer. Because there's really no way feminism can't impact our lives.
Feminism deals with pretty much every aspect of life because, unfortunately, pretty much every aspect of life is in some way affected by patriarchy and gender inequality. Which means it's not surprising that embracing feminist ideology can affect a lot of things about your life. Feminism can make you a better boss, a better friend, a better partner, even a better parent. Basically, feminism can do anything, from big things like securing the right to vote for women to individual things like making you more open-minded and compassionate.
As someone who was raised by a feminist, feminism has always been a part of my life in some form or other, but as I've grown up and started exploring feminism as an adult, I've found that it's made me a better thinker — and, by extension, a better writer. Not only do I love getting to write about feminism, but trying to apply feminist ideas to the way that I write has made me better at it and made my writing stronger.
So how does that work? Well, here are five ways:
I Have A Lot Of Writers To Look Up To
From foundational feminist writers like Betty Friedan and bell hooks, to modern feminists like Mona Eltahawy and Jessica Valenti and Roxane Gay, to even feminist fiction writers like Margaret Atwood and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Louise Erdrich, being a feminist means having a lot of amazing writers to look up to.
They say that the best way to become a better writer is to read, and feminism comes with a pretty epic and awesome reading list. Feminist ideas are developed and spread through feminist literature, and reading it, both the fiction and non-fiction, makes you a better and more informed feminist — and a better writer.
I Consider My Audience In A Whole New Way
Feminism — especially intersectional feminism — call on all of us to reject prevailing ideas about who constitutes a "default human." Because after all, there are no default humans. Nevertheless, when we imagine a generic person, they tend to be white, male, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical, and middle class. Those are the identities that society caters to. And as writers, when you imagine your unknown audience, that can impact you more than you think.
When I write, I now make a point to imagine my audience is made up of people with all sorts of different identities. This means that if you're writing about issues that affect a community, imagine someone from that community will read it — because they probably will. It also means asking questions. Could a trans person be put off by how I'm framing gender here? Am I using derogatory words for people with mental illness? Making sure that your writing comes across the way you want it to, to as many people as possible, definitely makes it stronger.
When I Talk About Women I Say "We"
This one might seem like a little thing, but after being a feminist long enough, it felt strange to be writing about women and refer to my own gender as "they." Have I been so taught to disassociate from being a woman that I think of women as other? Or was I just under the impression that calling attention to my gender was bad? Either way, I reject this, and I think that when I write about women an women's issues, referring to women as "we" only makes my points stronger.
Feminism Teaches You To Be Precise
Feminism deals with big ideas, and feminism also recognizes that the words that people use to talk about them are important. There is power in language. From little things like the fact that words like "congressmen" are gendered, to subtle things like talking about women in language that implies we're weak, to big things like outright slurs and hate speech, language shapes the way we see the world.
As a writer, language is also crucial, and feminism not only affirms just how important it is and what consequences it has, but also demands that we treat it with great care. Feminism teaches me as a writer to be precise, which only makes me better as a writer.
Feminism Makes You Fearless
If feminism does anything, it tells women that our voices matter. In a world that does its level best to tell women to sit down and shut up, feminism tells women to speak louder, and the feminist movement provides a place where women's voices are always welcome.
Feminism tells women that we can do anything, no matter whether society tries to hold us back. Feminism tells women not to be afraid of our own power or our own voices. Feminism tells women not to be afraid of anything. As a writer, that is invaluable.