When I Became a Feminist

Recently at a job interview, I was asked how someone my age got into feminism. This wasn’t a weird question, based on the writing samples included in my portfolio that I brought to the interview, but still, I hesitated in answering.

There are plenty of non-personal answers to that question, one being, “Why wouldn’t someone my age be a feminist?”. Another, “Why wouldn’t any woman or smart man be ‘into feminism’?”

But the reason I hesitated is because I had to think about it. After pondering for a moment, I replied with a rambling answer about how my developing interest in women’s and sexual health issues naturally lead to an interest in feminism, concluding with a personal experience regarding my mother that I needn’t be coy about as it’s been published both in print and online for over a year now, but for discretion’s sake, I will.

I think this went over pretty well – it felt like a comfortable and accepted response to a rather unorthodox question for a job interview.

But, after the interview, I realized I was lying.

It wasn’t my fault, I just hadn’t thought about it for a long time. Because I guess I’ve been “into feminism” for a lot longer than I’ve ever thought about. Of course, my dad had worked to ingrain it in me from birth, but even that wasn’t really it.

It was Gwen Stefani.

Or, as I more fondly like to think of her (and the three other members of the band that made her famous), it was No Doubt.

I heard “Just A Girl” when I was in the third grade. Even though I probably wasn’t sure what the lyrics meant, and I most likely didn’t feel I could relate to them, I knew they carried a deeper meaning.

I knew that when Gwen screamed at a concert, “Fuck you, I’m a girl!” during the performance of the song, she wasn’t just looking for an excuse to swear. She was making a statement.

And that statement filtered through to my little third-grade brain and has been with me ever since. I can still feel it every time I hear the song, and hear the frustration in her voice, the mocking tone, the anger, the sarcasm.

And guess who ‘got me into’ No Doubt? My dad.


Additional Note: I started this blog late in the summer of 2008, after Thomas Beattie gave birth to his first child. I continued to labor over a long post about my frustration with people’s disgust over a transgendered man with female reproductive organs choosing to have a child. I didn’t post it because I was never finished with it, every time I opened it up I had something else to add. Then, Thomas got pregnant again. I’m not sure if that post will be published before or after baby number two arrives, but I’m working on it.

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