A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY MACY PERRINE
The thing about wearing a feminist shirt to school is that I live in Wisconsin. We’re not technically conservative, but we are also not California. The only reason we elected the first openly gay congresswoman is that we were too lazy to care and we liked her politics and we’re not progressive.
At least sixty percent of the people you meet in Wisconsin are the kind of people who imply that equality is a given but, when someone wears a feminist T-shirt, bubble with annoyance or rage–because what, really, is the difference. Twenty percent of the people here are wildly conservative and will either mumble, “fuck feminism” under their breath or think it as they pass you. The remaining twenty either don’t really care or are applauding you. Silently, of course.
The thing about wearing a feminist shirt is that I walk to school. And so dozens of cars pass me on my way, and the men will stare, but today it’s not because they want to fuck me, today they want to rip the shirt off my back for a different reason, want to run me off the sidewalk because feminism is bullshit, and the irony would be funny if it didn’t feel like a death threat.
But my favorite comments are the men who say, “feminism isn’t necessary anymore” as if they know more about what it is to be a woman than I do. And the funniest part is that these are the same people who flaunt equal rights on their chest like sashes, without realizing there is more to equality than what can be achieved through politics because that would mean they would have to face their contributions to oppression.
I’m sick of people wanting credit without wanting labels, which is not to say that you must call yourself a feminist to be one, it is only to say that maybe you aren’t strong enough of an ally if “feminist” is too strong a word for you.
It is harmful to only be liberal by default.
I want to not care, but the thing about wearing a feminism T-shirt to school is that I have anxiety. And so every pair of eyes that glances in my direction is exuding utter hatred and violence and despises the way I wear my beliefs on my chest, despite all of the Jesus shirts they feel safe wearing.
But this time, I know that the things my anxiety whispers to me are valid. I know that women get killed for this shit. I know that people feel evil things in their chests when they see the word splayed across my chest, because I used to be that person, before I realized that I hated girls so much only because I had always been bound by what it means to be one. All criticism and safety and silence and being held accountable for even the things you didn’t do wrong.
The thing about wearing a feminist shirt to school is that I’m not doing it to prove a point or boast my activism. I’m a feminist, in the same way you are a gamer or a coffee lover or a Potterhead or a Christian, except that you get to be secure in your beliefs.
I just like the way it fits.