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September 22, 2014

I'm a Feminist?


Throughout my life there has been a lot of soul searching. Am I a theatre major? Am I a makeup artist? Am I American? Am I Nicaraguan? There were lots of things I had to go over in order to define who I am to myself. One thing that never occurred to me, sadly, was whether I was a Feminist.

Growing up, I realized that I thought differently than my sisters and my mother. I remember walking behind my eldest sister to make it difficult for men to look at her assets and then to remark on them. I just realized, as I write this, that I have always had a problem with cat calling. I have never liked it. I didn't like people commenting on my sisters' appearance and them just walking away and thanking them for their kind words.

I always thought there was something inherently wrong with this and eventually when I became the target I would tell men to shut the fuck up and that I didn't need God to bless me any more than I already was. My mother thought this was wrong because we should never turn down blessings but what she didn't understand was that they were blessings based on my appearance and not my brain.

I was always told that I needed to find a good man.

"Find a good man that'll take care of you Elba."
"I'm going to pray to God so that he sends you a good boyfriend."
"You'll be happier when you get a boyfriend."

I had a shitty father figure growing up. My father was a womanizer and left us. It's just been my sisters and my mother for a very long time and that in itself shows the resilience we have as women. We can prosper without the paternal figure?

*GASP*

However, I was still subconsciously taught that I needed a man to take care of me because I'm a weak, little woman. Needless to say, that probably landed me in substandard relationships where if I said no to something and was still coerced to do it, it was not considered wrong because I loved the person. Well that's bullshit.

Don't get me wrong though. I don't hate men. I love men. There are great men in the world. What I don't like is being treated like property. I don't like lewd comments about my appearance from strangers (positive or negative). I don't like being told I should smile because who wants to smile after a 16 hour day? I also believe that I should get a whole dollar to a man's dollar in pay. 70 cents to a man's dollar really adds up and as a woman who does not want to depend on a man for financial stability, well I could really use those extra 30 cents.

It hasn't been until recently that I've realized that I was a Feminist. There's a lot of stigma surrounding the word "Feminism" so I can see why there was an aversion but why? Why is it so appalling to want equality? Why is it so terrible to want to be able to support yourself without the help of a man? Why is it mind boggling to not aspire to marriage?

As a Latina, it is hugely important for us to break these barriers. Machismo needs to go away in Latin/Hispanic culture. A woman should be applauded for wanting to make her own money and doing things on her own terms and not be shamed for wanting have as much casual sex as she likes, with whoever she likes.

So yes, I am a Feminist.

I want my nieces to grow up and think independently and want to build Lego structures and I want my nephews to defend their cousins when they're getting cat called on the street and admire a woman (if they're straight) without feeling like they have the right to tell her that her ass looks great and stare at her vulgarly.

I am a Feminist because I don't want to be guilt tripped into having sex with a boyfriend when I don't feel like it. I am a Feminist because I want to walk down the street and not feel obligated to say thank you to sleazy men. I am a Feminist because I want my mother to accept that it's okay that I don't have a boyfriend and that I don't need a boyfriend to provide for me and that I already am happy, a relationship isn't going to make me whole and help me achieve eternal happiness. I am a Feminist because I don't want to live in a society where leaking female celebrity nudes is acceptable and is glorified.

Most of all, I am a Feminist because I wholeheartedly believe that I can make myself happy, I can make myself whole, I can provide for myself, I can pay off my debts, I can do this all for myself without the help of a man and prosper.

Please tell me you want in on this too!

,
Elba
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