Too Legit to Quit

21 Aug

Legitimate.

I really fucking hate that word sometimes. As a young person, as a woman, as the daughter of a teenaged-mother, and as a supporter of equality, I’m tired of having people judge whether my life, my choices, and my words are good and true enough to be recognized.

It’s hard for our generation to find a job when we’re told that our volunteering, our online and computer skills, our community and campus organizing aren’t “legitimate experience.”

It’s hard for women to walk down the street without being harassed and hard for survivors of sexual assault and rape to come forward when told that their words and experiences don’t constitute “legitimate rape” or a “legitimate complaint.” Surely, they were asking for the unwanted attention, the assault.

It’s hard to listen to conservative rants about “family values” and the havoc that single mothersand marriage equality would bring to the American family unit. My parents were 17 and not yet married when I was born; I was – as they say – an “illegitimate child.” Fuck that; my parents have been married for 24 years and my family is incredibly close. And my LGBTQ friends aren’t leading legitimate lives? Bullshit. They’re people and they love who they love so get the hell over it.

And these internet trolls complaining about “emotional outbursts” in regards to attacks on young people, on women, on the LGBTQ community? You’re damn right that we’re having emotional outbursts; these attacks are personal. I can find statistics and studies to back up my opinions, but you’re not going to listen to me anyway, so whatever.  Also, we’re fucking human beings. We have emotions. Reacting emotionally shouldn’t carry the stigma that it does; I guess since emotion is so typically associate with the feminine, it’s way too much for your patriarchy-loving minds to take.
Do you want to get pissed when I incessantly post articles about and reactions to Rep. Akin’s heinous comments? Do you want to keep bitching that my generation is whiny and entitled and why don’t we all just get jobs and stop complaining about student loans (but you won’t hire us)? Do you want to keep supporting candidates and companies that promote intolerance and hatred and deny your fellow human beings their basic rights? Do you want to tell me that my parents—an Army vet and loving, supportive mother and military wife—screwed up the American family by having me a bit earlier than planned?
You want to tell us — all of us — that we’re not legitimate. Our relationships aren’t legitimate, our jobs aren’t legitimate, our concerns are not legitimate.

You want to? Go right ahead. But we’re sick and tired of it. When you’re done spewing your hate, we’re going to have emotional reactions. And you want to know what’s great about having an emotional reaction to something that touches you deeply because you’re a decent human being? It’s fucking legitimate.

This post brought to you by Dawn, who does think she can blog.

7 Responses to “Too Legit to Quit”

  1. SBG August 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    At the risk of being blunt, I just want to say that I’m incredibly shocked to see this type of article on Mislabeled, to the point of disappointment. I look to Mislabeled, as I’m sure many others do, to offer a fresh perspective on these topics — that’s what makes your blog unique. Unfortunately, it seems this article only reinforces “the F word taboo” that you claim to be fighting against. It detracts from all of the other awesome content you generate.

    Please don’t misinterpret my comment, as I believe everyone is absolutely entitled to express their feelings in response to such heinous and unintelligent comments as those Rep. Akin offered this week.

  2. Dawn August 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    SBG –

    I can appreciate that you don’t like this post. Maybe it’s my writing style, maybe it’s my anger or profanity. Whatever it is, you, too, are entitled to your opinion.

    Your comment, however, reinforces the point that I’m making. I’m tired of being told by society and conservatives that my opinions, my feelings, my experience doesn’t matter. It makes me incredibly angry. Mislabeled is a platform to show that there is no one way to be feminist. The past couple of days, I’ve been really upset about this. This is an outlet where I feel comfortable sharing that anger.

    I disagree that this reinforces “the F word taboo” because I’m angry and dropping f-bombs. We are fighting against the idea of stereotypes that feminists face. Not all feminists are angry all the time, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t get angry and worked up over things that matter to us. We’re human. We feel. We emote. That was all I wanted to get across.

  3. MTN August 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I completely agree with SBG. This is a prime example as to why “they” think negatively about the younger generation and our causes for equality for all. My father taught me a valuable lesson when I was a naive, idealistic child about discussing a debated issue: Always hide your emotions, speak calmly, slowly, and softly. Make them listen to you, and never give them a chance to use your passion against you. When reading this post, that was the first thing I thought. No wonder why people don’t listen to us! When entering a debate, which has become this politicized and broad, one should always enter a debate in a mature, educated, and respectful manner. Others may not follow suit, but you should always set the example. Mislabeled usually sets the example and shows that all “feminists” are not this loud, angry bunch of women just for the sake of being loud and angry. Unfortunately, this post does not seem to represent that or the many followers of this blog.

    • Dawn August 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      I’m not trying to represent anything. I’m expressing my emotions. I\’m not entering a debate; I’m using a platform that exists for me to share my thoughts and concerns and my beliefs. I refuse to hide my emotions. As someone suffering from depression, it gets really old trying to hide the fact that you’re suffering because of the stigma of expressing feelings.

      I am a feminist and sometimes I’m quiet and mature. Sometimes, I’m loud and angry. I’m tired of feeling like I have to keep my opinions to myself and that I can’t express the indignation I feel when made to feel like I don’t matter. So I did.

  4. eck August 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    While I agree that this isn’t the tone you’d come into a debate with, I don’t think that’s the goal of this post. It’s a visceral, emotional reaction, not talking points to counter the other side. Though many of your points, MTN, make sense in a lot of situations, even in a “debate” forum, I don’t think it’s appropriate in this situation to “speak softly” and “hide your emotions.” A “discussion” on what kind of rape is legitimate isn’t something you can calmly reason with people about. Again though, I don’t think debate is what this post was going for.

    When I first began reading about all the Akin crap, my reaction was completely different from Dawn’s. I told people I just didn’t want to talk about it. I was frankly exhausted and sick of being outraged at political bullshit comments that too quickly fade from the public’s memory, but not from mine. I think it’s actually refreshing to see people and posts like this getting so angry out what’s truly outrageous, and reminding me that I shouldn’t be quiet about these things, but should be angry too. In public, or to the opposition, you’re right. We should speak calmly and with reason. But as feminists (however we each define that), we need to be reminded occasionally by one another of what it is we’re fighting for, and why. It might not have done it for you, but Dawn’s post accomplished just that for me, and I’m glad Mislabeled posts a wide variety of feminist reactions to all sorts of thoughts and situations.

    • SBG August 22, 2012 at 10:42 am #

      I appreciate the nuances that you highlight, between a debate and the purpose of this post. My concern would be that we’re getting caught up in the semantics of things as opposed to looking at the greater impact of a post like this.

      I fail to understand how posting something of this nature, on such a hotly debating topic, is contributing to the conversation in any positive or productive way. Sure, perhaps the author didn’t go into it with the intention of debating, but what other realistic expectation was there? Being emotive for the sake of proving you can? And then what?

      I can only speak for myself but I think the point MTN and I were trying to make is that ultimately this kind of reaction doesn’t serve anyone but the individual having it. My expectation, at least, from Mislabeled is that feminists are here specifically to engage in the debate on feminism, and to break the mold. The tagline at the top of every page on this blog reads, ‘FEMINISTS: WE’RE NOT WHAT YOU THINK’ — except before reading through the first sentence of this article, all I thought was, ‘here we go again, another angsty rant’

      By no means am I saying that Dawn and others are not entitled to FEEL whatever it is they’re feeling; as a young woman, as a feminist, as an activist, and as a humanitarian, I believe it is our personal and social responsibility to acknowledge our raw emotional reaction to things like this. It is, as ECK hints at, a reminder to everyone of what and why we support what we do and fuel for our passion. I don’t think anyone here is arguing against that. Nor am I suggesting that the author should have to fit into any stereotype or a way of being a feminist; quite the contrary.

      All that said, this article doesn’t serve as a rallying cry for feminists to reclaim their ability to have emotional reactions; nor does it fall in line with Mislabeled’s identity of engaging in a conversation. Claiming yourself a feminist isn’t a save-all and doesn’t excuse one from the greater social responsibility to break molds. Not only to define the problem but to advocate solutions. And I expected more from Mislabeled.

  5. mislabeled August 22, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks, everyone, for commenting.

    At this point, we are no longer going to approve any more comments on this blog post — unless someone has something new (and respectful) to add to the conversation.

    Mislabeled was designed to be a safe space for our contributors to explore all of the facets of living a feminist life. Sometimes that means writing “squee” posts about puppy gifs, and sometimes that means indulging in a little rant. The whole idea of Mislabeled is that we do not have to fit the mold of what people consider or expect feminists to be. That’s our two cents. Thanks again for the discussion.

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