I’m presenting at a conference in a little over a week. I was given 20 minutes to talk about feminism, new media, and identity. Twenty minutes.
I remember when I was in college and thinking that writing long papers was one of the biggest challenges. “What am I supposed to write about?” I always looked for fillers to make my number pages increase, as if writing MORE signified more meaning.
Eight years after college, I learned that it’s short papers, abbreviated periods of time that holds true challenge. How do I only have 20 minutes to create this presentation when I have so much to say?
In preparing for this conference, I’ve been writing primers on feminism, my feminism. My perspective. My truth. I have been reviewing the definition of feminism and its futility in the common, everyday world in which we live in. How feminism affects the relationships we claim mean so much to us. How feminism affects our communication patterns in workplaces built on hierarchy and authority. How feminism challenges and/or enhances our expectations of the men in my life (and especially the women in my life!).
How does feminism, YOUR feminism affect you? How personal, how intimate do you allow your feminism to become?
If personal transformation is key, or a precursor to societal transformation, intimacy with feminism cannot be sidestepped. It takes a monstrous force to allow oneself to be vulnerable enough to change, vulnerable enough to change our relationships and beliefs that influence our daily behaviors. That is the function of my feminism — using it as a ladder to climb for a better view, reaching higher [deeper] levels of clarity. It is not navel gazing if we actually USE feminism for self-transformation, instead of using it as a lens to think or muse on our own experiences. Once we’re done musing, it’s time to enact change. Put our lessons into practice.
For me, action and change are found in small-sounding shifts. For example…
I stopped lying.
I stopped lying to people when they ask how I am feeling. I stopped saying that I feel great and have enough energy to be pregnant, go out, cook, take care of myself, work a full time job.
I stopped lying and began saying what is really happening: I’m tired. I’m tired by 2pm everyday and need to sleep. Saying this means I’ve asked for help. Admitting this means allowing others to see that I’m changing and I’m affected by that change. It means acknowledging that I am not as energetic as I once was. It means allowing myself to be seen in my own skin. It means not pretending and letting whatever expectations of me that others held to fall to the ground and stay there.
I stopped lying because the energy in creating a lie – however slight the alteration of the truth it is – distracts and subtracts from the energy bank I DO have.
The result is I am able to see myself as I am: a very pregnant woman, very much in love with this experience, and needing time to Be exactly as I am.
It wasn’t the hugest lie to tell. Perhaps the liberation I feel has more to do with the fact that I am being more FULLY myself, allowing more of the truth in, instead of filtering it out.
It’s meant closing my door to sleep. It’s meant reaching for more water. It’s meant coming to grips with the darker parts of pregnancy that are creeping closer and closer in my insecurity. It’s meant more doctor’s appointments and less bravado.
It means being real.
Feminism, the kind I am presenting, has to do with that kind of liberation. It begins with small lies we tell ourselves to get through the day, it begins with taking down ridiculous facades we don’t even need to begin with, and frees up our identity to pay attention to who we really are, what we are really about, and refocus that energy in what truly matters.
It is my hope, or plan, that beginning in those seeds of truth will allow us to grow into truth-filled bodies where we can recognize the people and places that truly need more energy and hope.
I serve no other person well if I begin from an unstable foundation.