I grew up in a relatively conservative Catholic family, and until about five years ago, I didn’t have much use for words like “feminist.”
I knew about women’s rights and history – I had even done reports in middle school about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Coffin Mott. I knew about the abortion debate, but because of my Catholic upbringing, I believed myself to be pro-life, even to the degree that I disagreed with birth control. I was told that birth control didn’t prevent you from becoming pregnant; it created a harmful environment in your uterus so that a fetus wouldn’t survive.
So when I was 16 years old and a doctor recommended birth control to treat the ovarian cysts that were causing me tons of pain, I found myself in the crux of religion vs. science vs. society. Why was I feeling guilty for taking birth control, even as a method of treatment? (I’m sure you can fill in the blank.)
Then came college. My first semester, freshman year I was placed in a higher level American History class, for which we were assigned to read Ruth Rosen’s The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. This is the book that, ultimately, would change my life. It set into motion the continuation of ideas and opinions that I would soon be able to acknowledge and advocate.
I started to tailor my academic track to include more and more feminist literature and theory, largely involving women in the Art Worlds. Thanks to several strong female influences in my personal and academic lives, I was soon tabling at the cafeteria handing out surveys about pubic hair and printing zines about balancing feminist ideals with sexual deviance. (Email me if you’d like a copy!)
Zines made in true Riot Grrrl fashion:
So now, in my early twenties, I have found myself more involved in the feminist movement than ever – academic curiosity turned real world action. I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with intelligent, candid, and funny women (and men) who are passionate about sharing. Through our continued conversation we have learned more about each other and more importantly, ourselves. While I may not be a field organizer or professional activist, I believe that through sharing personal stories and ideas with other human beings, I am making a difference.
So that’s my story of how I came to embrace the word. Journalist by training, video editor by trade, and DC resident by transplant, I’m interested in everything from current events to recipe sharing.
I should say you could expect the kitchen sink.
This post is brought to you by Tara. Follow her on Twitter @tarakutz.