What Makes A Feminist

For context, my experience comes through the lense of a cisgendered bisexueal white woman born and raised in the United States. My relationship with feminism is ever changing and convulted. I would like to believe that daily I work out the kinks of my internalized misogyny, but with full transparency, there are days where my progression is far from linear.



Growing up, my father insisted upon enforcing gender roles. My brother took out the trash, while me and my sisters cleaned dishes. This momentary glimpse into my childhood sets the tone for my adolescence, and shaped my relationship with femininity. I was a witness as my brother was granted certain privileges I was denied. When my sisters or I fought for an explanation for this hypocrisy, we were met with the never changing response of “he’s a boy, it's different.” Because of my gender, my younger brother had a curfew two hours past my own. Because of my gender I was told to “dress pretty, but not provocative.” Because of my gender, when I joined a competitive powerlifting team my father said “don’t get too bulky.”


My experience with gender roles as a girl is what contributes to my increasing frustration with gender norms and their societal role as a woman. My exerience has entirely shaped my own approach to feminism. To me, feminism should highlight the importance of liberating women by way of liberating men. The philosophy of feminism as an interdependent movement is rarely promoted; but when learned, and properly practiced, interdependence aids the feminist movement. Interdependence suggests the dependence of two or more things on each other. For example, for women to be allowed to live as they please we must allow men to do the same. My brother, a cisgendered straight white male, shares the same grievences towards feminism as myself. My brother–the youngest, and with three older sisters–took interest in what my parents saw only as feminine hobbies. When we bleached and dyed our hair my brother was in the bathroom with us begging us to “at least dye a strip.” When we painted our nails my brother would grab the green sparkles and meticulously brush each finger nail. And, often in frustration, my brother turned to tears to show his emotions. I can still hear my father yelling as my brother paraded down the stairs, proud, with blue hair. I can still feel the aggression in the way he scrubbed his fingertips after my father called him an LGBTQ slur. And when my brother cried, my father would just scream louder.


Both men and women are negatively impacted by gender roles and our only way out is through feminism. Feminism: the equal standard for all people regardless of gender. As I become situated in the I Am Woman team, I plan to highligt the value interdependence brings to feminism, and further demonstrate how gender roles are not ony out dated but harmful. Stick around to see how Mikayla and I intend to do our part to dismantle gender roles and promote unconditional acceptance!


Talk soon,

Robyn Owens

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