50/100 days of emotional badassery - In which radical feminism was one of the best and worst things that ever happened to me
After a week of amazing summit on joy and social justice, I feel more grounded than ever in my determination to add that dimension and my commitment to radical feminism to my work.
This is at the same time fairly simple, since it’s in total adequation with my original way of working, very focused on self-liberation.
And quite difficult because social justice has a way of infiltrating every aspect of life, hence impacting every dimensions and layers of my work.
I also haven’t felt like a beginner in my discipline for so long. It feels very vulnerable.
It reminds me of the period when I started looking into radical feminism. I had dabbed into feminism for a few months. In some ways, it was deeply transformative, and in others, very confusing.
Some parts of it were very nebulous, because they didn’t make sense at all to me, seemed highly contradictory with each others and were severely clashing with some huge tenants of what I had learnt about humanity, relationships and groups.
Despite those grounds, I didn’t dismiss them right away, because I like to look more deeply into things that make me uncomfortable.
Not that I am a masochist, I actually have a history of strong discomfort avoidance game, and developed very creative ways to do so. Along with a history of not living my life because of it.
Aware of this, I have learnt in the past half-decade to practice sitting in discomfort, listening to what it has to say, learning from it.
Where does this feeling live in my body? Why am I uncomfortable? What makes me feel that way exactly? What do I wish would be different to feel safer or less defensive?
To study feminism, I like (among other things) to read people sharing their deepest insights and excerpts from their favorite authors on social justice.
At some point, the Pinterest algorithm started to show me some texts on radical feminism. They felt agressive, extreme, too much. Some of those texts also introduced me to terms like TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists), they seemed to describe very angry, unhappy and bitter people. People who wanted more to judge and criticize others than to liberate anyone or make the world a better place.
One day though, I was bored and scrolling on Pinterest. I was feeling very calm, so more open, and a text caught my eye. It was so relatable from the beginning.
It was the journey of someone who had similar issues with what I came to understand later as liberal (mainstream) feminism. How they discovered radical feminism and finally things made sense.
Indeed, the way they were debunking one specific issue (I cannot remember which one exactly, they were too many of those) I had with liberal feminism was making so much more sense and wasn't clashing anymore at all with what I learnt, only deepening it.
I learnt and journaled so much at that time. One by one, each issue I had with liberal feminism, then each issue I had with the world in itself not making any sense slowly but surely disappeared through that new lens. I’m not saying here it was simple or easy, mind you. I spent a lot of that time feeling dizzy and scared, my stomach in knots, a lump in my throat. Radical feminism felt so intense to dive into.
It also meant that I had to accept that some people I read being insulting and treating those people like the worse scum the Earth had ever borne, were now also about me. Like, choosing to be even more marginalized that I already were. Heavy choice.
Me, who had spent my whole life trying to be without being a bother to people, who had only for a couple years accepted the idea that I would always bother people if I was myself, because we live in a world where being ourselves is itself revolutionary.
How many times had I read before that “Die you fucking TERF!”? Now I was the TERF. Knowing that TERF is actually inaccurate as fuck, completely missing the point of radical feminism (we’ll talk about this at some point). But still. Some people were believing this, and wanted me dead, because of these beliefs. The lump in my throat about this is still present writing these words.
And that wasn’t all of it at all. Radical feminism includes EVERYTHING controversial about social justice. We study many systems of power into place, oppressing people from the same core, but spread in every layer of our society. Being a radical feminism isn’t just merely about patriarcal sex oppression, it’s intersectional.
It contests capitalism, ableism, ageism, racism, classism, fatphobia, the beauty myth, heteronormativity. Of course, it defends as well the Earth and animals, exploited and destructed by many of the prementioned ways of oppression.
My head felt like it was about to explode. At the same time it was incredibly empowering to realize it was the perfect extension of everything I had worked on for the past decade, and it suddenly felt like I had to change my whole life around to make sure it stays aligned with my values.
That’s when the unexpected gift unwrapped itself. I knew from my previous work there was no way I could turn my life upside down on one take. So the one of the biggest things I had to learn in order to be a radical feminism without losing my sanity, was to focus even more on my perfectionism. As a matter of fact, perfectionism, I learned, was a tool of patriarchy and capitalism. Another perfect fit.
I had to learn how to be okay with being an imperfect activist. After a few years practicing being an imperfect person, I had a wonderful opportunity to deepen this oh so empowering practice.
I had no way of never messing up, of knowing everything. There was simply too much. Like being in one of the world's biggest libraries, looking around, and despite the overwhelm, choosing to surrender to beauty of having so much to learn and to explore.
And of course, the more I would work on embracing my imperfection, my more liberated and grounded I would feel. Instead of getting confused and losing energy having to learn tons of rules that didn’t work together, I could focus on what matters the most in activism : my own self-liberation, the core of what can make me a better helper for everyone, not just for people who agree with me.
Dear hummingbird, have you noticed how the tuning points in your life, the things that really change you from the inside out forever, have a way of weaving some of the worst and some of the best things in your life too?
The most scary and the most liberating?
The most enraging and the most grounding?
The most painful and the most reassuring?
If you’re in the middle of a very hard battle, please know : it’s always worth it to be in the arena. Liberation comes from struggle. Nothing deeply worthwhile and life changing is ever easy, labour-less and comfortable to get.
Dolor hic tibi proderit olim. - Ovid
This pain will be useful to you.
Trust yourself, my dear.
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