Feminism and Victimhood


What’s this I keep hearing about feminism promoting “victimhood”?

Anti-feminists often suggest that feminism encourages women to “see themselves as victims,” that feminism is actually insulting to women because it suggests they need “special rights” in order to be able to compete with men. The concept of programs that encourage women to pursue STEM professions or that teach men not to rape, therefore, implies that women are poor defenseless victims.

But does it really?

I never really understood this critique of feminism because I remember how powerless I felt before I became a feminist, and I know how powerful I feel now. Maybe there are feminists who feel like hopeless victims of the patriarchy. I don’t know; I haven’t met any.

You know what really sounds like victimhood to me? Anti-feminism.

Anti-feminism says that women must act “feminine” and men must act “masculine,” no matter how they personally feel like acting.

Anti-feminism says that sex and romance must follow certain scripts, and if you don’t like those scripts, too bad. If your desires fall outside of those scripts, again, too bad.

Anti-feminism says that all-male (or mostly-male) legislative bodies can make laws telling women whether or not and on what conditions they may obtain an abortion and how they may acquire birth control. If women don’t like that, well, they can just run for elected office themselves because this is a democracy after all. How they’ll do that while popping out all those babies they didn’t want? You tell me.

Anti-feminism says that men can’t control their sexual urges and refrain from raping women that they find attractive. It says that women do have the power to prevent their own rapes, but only by not having consensual sex, not drinking, not going out alone, not flirting–pretty must just staying home where it’s safe.

Anti-feminism says that if a dude keeps making inappropriate comments to you at work, you should suck it up and learn how to take a joke. Guys will be guys.

Anti-feminism says that if you’re a woman who wants to have children, you’ll have to accept the fact that caring for your children will reduce your career opportunities while the man you had those children with continues advancing through the ranks. If you wanted a more successful career, you shouldn’t have had children.

Anti-feminism says you should spend hours of your day putting on makeup, removing your body hair, fitting yourself into uncomfortable clothes, and tottering around on high heels–in fact, many of these things are often required of women in the workplace. It says that appearance is a reasonable factor to judge people by, because if you’re ugly, you can just choose to take better care of yourself.

Anti-feminism says that if you’re fat, you should spend your time, money, and energy on getting thin. Otherwise it’s acceptable to discriminate against you.

Anti-feminism says that you’ll be happier, a better woman if you marry a man and have kids. Even if you think you won’t. Do it anyway.

Anti-feminism says that if that man abuses you, you should make an effort to be a better wife.

I can’t think of anything more disempowering, more victimizing, than to live by an ideology like this one.

I know why people think feminism is all about victimhood. The reason is that feminism, like all progressive ideologies, rejects the idea of meritocracy. Feminism acknowledges the fact that while hard work and perseverance matter, some people still start out the race already ahead, while others must run the race dragging weights behind them. Acknowledging this reality, documented by decades of academic research and personal narratives, isn’t promoting victimhood. It’s lifting a rug that we’ve swept so much crap underneath.

The meritocratic worldview can be beneficial both to individuals and to society. On an individual level, it maintains the “just world hypothesis,” the idea that the world is fundamentally fair, that those who deserve success will get it and those who get screwed over must’ve deserved it somehow. It can be much more comforting than believing that sometimes people get screwed over for no good reason. And not just because of bad luck, either, but because our society may be set up in a way that screws over certain groups more than others.

On a societal level, the meritocratic worldview keeps people working hard. After all, if you truly believe that hard work is all you need to succeed, well, you’re probably going to work pretty damn hard, unless you’re just lazy and don’t deserve success anyway.

But understanding that hard work isn’t all there is to it doesn’t mean that people won’t work hard. It means that people will try to fix the world’s broken parts rather than pretending they’re not there. Feminism is empowering to me and to so many other people precisely because it shows us that we don’t have to accept the world as it is–even if some of the realizations it provokes are uncomfortable and jarring.

Most people will feel like victims at some point in their lives. Life has a way of putting almost everyone through shit that’s completely reasonable to feel sorry for yourself over. For what it’s worth, I’ve never felt like a victim as a woman. I’ve felt like a victim as a child who was bullied by her own teachers, as an adolescent who lived with untreated depression for nearly a decade, and as a young adult who sometimes feels like there’s just no way to get anywhere in this world without tons of money. Sometimes.

But there are people out there who have had their lives irrevocably altered by sexism in ways so horrible I try not to think about them. If those people feel like victims from time to time, I think they’re completely justified.

And that’s not something that can be blamed on feminism. That’s something that feminism, unlike the dogmatic pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps crap we keep getting fed, is actually trying to address.

Comments

  1. says

    Excellent run-down.

    Don’t forget that the whole “feminism = telling women that they are victims” is predicated on the lie that women are not disproportionately victimized. In fact, they are disproportionately victimized–sex discrimination, lower wages, harassment, and assault are all things that really do turn women into victims. Anti-feminists would have us believe that this is not true, and that anyone who claimed to be a victim of those things is lying or delusional. Which fits right into the anti-feminist trope about bitchez and how they are all lyin/crazy.

    ..What, no preview? *bites nails*

  2. says

    It is pretty much “two for flinching” isn’t it? Not only do you have to be victimized by sexism, you get victimized a second time by people who deny you your own experience and retroactively blame you for the sexism if you dare to complain. I’ve experienced it with racism, told I was “playing the race card”… nasty stuff.

  3. says

    Anti-feminism says that if you’re a woman who wants to have children, you’ll have to accept the fact that caring for your children will reduce your career opportunities while the man you had those children with continues advancing through the ranks. If you wanted a more successful career, you shouldn’t have had children. . .

    Anti-feminism says that you’ll be happier, a better woman if you marry a man and have kids. Even if you think you won’t. Do it anyway.

    In other words, anti-feminism blames you for having kids, and for not having kids. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

    I think this is an important thing to point out.

    Anti-feminism isn’t just about demanding that women be as feminine and subservient as possible….it’s also about blaming you for being feminine and subservient. Neither virgins nor whores escape the wrath of anti-feminism, because feminism is about empowering people to make their own choices about how they want to live as whatever gender they consider themselves to be, and anti-feminism is opposed to that. If you demand that women all become lesbians and hate men and wear unflattering baggy pants and weigh 300 pounds, you’re also an anti-feminist. Because feminism is about choice and autonomy, and telling people what they must be, weighing your desires for them over their own, is the opposite of that.

    P.S. I also need to point out that you seem to be lacking a “preview button,” so that I can be sure that the HTML in this post hasn’t gone all wonky on accident. But in a fearless move, I shall press the “post comment” button anyway.

  4. jay says

    “The concept of programs that encourage women to pursue STEM professions or that teach men not to rape, therefore, implies that women are poor defenseless victims.”

    Wow.

    “The concept of programs that encourage women to pursue STEM professions” — not victimization
    Title IX for Science — victimization.

    “The concept of programs that .. teach men not to rape”
    Sexist gibberish and lousy science. The overwhelming majority of men do not rape. Ask Amanda Marcotte. The vast majority of rapes are committed by a small minority of people.

    So “”The concept of programs that .. teach men not to rape”” is indeed victimization since it is a bogus claim and scientifically inaccurate and still you push it even though you know better.

  5. Martha says

    Acknowledging this reality, documented by decades of academic research and personal narratives, isn’t promoting victimhood. It’s lifting a rug that we’ve swept so much crap underneath.

    Yes, this! Very nicely said, too.

    @Jay #4: Gosh, I don’t think you’ve quite understood Amanda Marcotte. Yes, a small percentage of men are serial rapists, but the vast majority of rape is committed by men. Would you suggest preventing rape by aiming programs at goldfish instead?!

  6. says

    I don’t think Jay understands, period. No scientific claim was made in the phrase “The concept of programs that . . . teach men not to rape.” No sexist claim, either.

  7. says

    I swear I’ve seen jay around FTB before. Congratulations, Miriam, you’ve hooked one of the regular trolls.
    That said, I tend to agree with Sallystrange @#1; anti-feminism is all about victimizing women in all kinds of ways, and then calling the act of pointing it out and trying to make them stop a ‘culture of victimhood’

  8. Washington Cornwallis says

    I’m just curious, Miriam, what makes you think you have the authority to determine who is a feminist and who is not. If I recall, you were also the one who said Beyonce Knowles posing in her underwear for a men’s magazine was not empowering for her, but you posing nude for a calendar was powerful and liberating. It strikes me as incredibly condescending, with a severe sense of entitlement, that you think you can qualify what’s a feminist and what’s empowering for a woman.

    Maybe you ought to consider that the equality that feminism yearns for also means a woman can make her own decisions, regardless what anyone else thinks. But if that is the kind of feminism you espouse, perhaps that is why you keep hearing that it promotes victimhood – because it certainly wouldn’t be the kind of feminism I would encourage and endorse. However, like with most things, feminism is not a monolithic structure. It’s fine if that is your view, but you would have to accept that people might not agree with you.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not an anti-feminist. I’m an equity feminist. Some of the things you mention makes it clear these people aren’t feminists, but then some things are a bit more ambiguous. Like I’m not sure what obesity has to do with anti-feminism, or that bit about “certain scripts” (not sure what you’re on about here). But then you make a false equivalence that everyone who’s not a feminist (and describe themselves as “not a feminist”), they would automatically agree with your assessment of anti-feminism. This just isn’t true. Because feminism is so multi-faceted (both with its radical and moderate influences), many choose to label themselves equalists, or egalitarian, or quite simply, humanists. I haven’t come across the kind of anti-feminist you mention although with your criteria, aside from anti-feminism, it seems they have other problems to contend with; like being complete assholes. But to be fair, using your criteria, an anti-feminist could also include women.

    • says

      If I recall, you were also the one who said Beyonce Knowles posing in her underwear for a men’s magazine was not empowering for her, but you posing nude for a calendar was powerful and liberating.

      Wait, I wrote about Beyonce posing for a men’s magazine? I posed nude for a calendar? Why didn’t anyone tell me sooner?!

      But seriously, you might want to try actually checking who said the thing you don’t like before you go accusing random people of having saying it.

      My take on the Beyonce posing for GQ is that, while it’s worth examining why women posing nearly-nude for men’s enjoyment is so pervasive in our society, she should do whatever she feels like doing. More power to her. Here’s a great take on it: http://feministing.com/2013/01/18/we-are-totally-cool-with-beyonce-posing-in-her-underwear/

      By the way, while I would probably disagree with most of your views, the “anti-feminists” I reference in this piece are not so-called “equity feminists” or “egalitarians” or whatever. I’m writing about the Religious Right, mostly. Really the Right in general.

      • Washington Cornwallis says

        Apologies! Total recollection fail. You’re right, I’ll make sure to check better next time. Double check to be sure!

        Also, if you were referring to the religious right in your article, then it wasn’t really clear. For one, you don’t make any mention of them and the tone seems to be addressed to those generally against feminism, not the creationist variety. Oh well, c’est la vie.

        Er, but a small point about Beyonce: Is it really productive to assume her intentions for posing, especially when you precede it with she may have done it for men’s enjoyment? True, the latter may be a consequence (an effect), but it does not necessarily have to be the reason (the cause).

        • says

          Apologies! Total recollection fail. You’re right, I’ll make sure to check better next time. Double check to be sure!

          No problem!

          Also, if you were referring to the religious right in your article, then it wasn’t really clear.

          Fair. I didn’t want to label them as such because there are also anti-feminists of that variety that are neither religious nor particularly conservative. But when I say anti-feminism, I really do mean being opposed to that entire concept, as opposed to disagreeing with various threads of feminism (which I do myself).

          Is it really productive to assume her intentions for posing, especially when you precede it with she may have done it for men’s enjoyment?

          No, and I don’t think we should do that, unless she specifically said somewhere why she did it. Part of the purpose of feminism for me is the concept of encouraging women to talk about their experiences, and encouraging people (both male and otherwise) to seek out and listen to those experiences. I’d want to read an account of a woman who posed nude and felt empowered, and an account of a woman who posed nude and felt objectified, and a woman who posed nude and didn’t care one way or the other, and everything in between. That’s what I’m talking about when I say “examining why women posing nearly-nude for men’s enjoyment is so pervasive in our society.”

          Also, when I say “for men’s enjoyment” in that sentence, I don’t mean that the woman herself is doing it expressly for that purpose; I simply mean that that’s the end result. As in, GQ is a men’s magazine and we can probably safely assume that they put scantily-clad women on its cover primarily for men’s enjoyment and to make money from that enjoyment. Which there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with, except when people start saying that if a woman poses nude then that gives them license to call her a “slut” and treat her as sexually available, for instance.

  9. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    Yes. “Playing the victim card” is only ever a valid argument when the person has -NOT- been the victim of something. The real definition the anti-feminist lot seem to use is “you don’t fit my personal standards for victimhood so you’re not one, so shut up.”

  10. Anthony K says

    I’m just curious, Miriam, what makes you think you have the authority to determine who is a feminist and who is not.

    What makes Christina Hoff Sommers?

    For what it’s worth, I’m not an anti-feminist. I’m an equity feminist.

    CHS and the anti-feminists are the only people who use the term ‘equity feminist.’

    You know what an equity feminist is? Someone who actually doesn’t give a fuck, doesn’t want to lift a finger, but wants a cookie anyways.

    You’re for universal legal rights? Well hallelujah Dr. King, you’re a fucking hero of the effort. Thank you so much for meeting the very minimum of what it means to be decent.

    • Washington Cornwallis says

      Anthony K –

      As far as I’m concerned, Christina Hoff Summers haven’t made any claims to what makes one a feminist. However, if you agree that Summers have no authority to determine what makes one a feminist, then you agree that Miriam doesn’t either, right? So did you come just to froth at the mouth or did you have a point?

      Equity feminism, like gender feminism, are terms to describe behaviour. That’s what they are. They are not ideologies or the beginnings of dogmatic cults. Since they’re there, I can use them to label myself into that category which I deem to be the one I most agree with. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? However I’m curious why you say equity feminists actually ‘don’t give a fuck.’ What gives you that impression? I guess I would be one of the rare few. I’m very commited for women to be equal to men. I just don’t agree that the system is rigged against women, or that the system perpetuates male dominance. There is also no evidence to suggest something so sinister, which is another reason. Hoff Summers describes it as a ‘smoking gun’. That’s probably why I identify more as an equity feminist as well.

      Of course, then there’s the radical nature of feminism which goes without saying. With that in mind, I have no problem with people labelling themselves equalists or humanists. Such ambiguous and untestable claims like rape culture and the patriarchy (of feminist theory). Needless to say, my skepticism is high on alert when it comes to these things – especially since there’s no proof for either of them. The most I’ve seen for the former is a movie from the 70’s called Rape Culture and a bit of lip service up ’til the mid 70’s, early 80’s, until it faded from memory only to resurface again recently in the early 2000’s. Also a blog from one Melissa McEwan.* The other, patriarchy, seem to stem from mostly radical feminists, particularly Valerie Solanas. At least, that’s what I’ve been able to find. Do you have other sources to contrast mine?

      As for my efforts, I do my part. But if you think my being an equity feminist somehow means I’m just doing the bare minimum, maybe you can regale me of your own efforts?

      *The little you can find about her doesn’t suggest she has any extensive expertise on the matter to be able to make any educated assessment to determine mankind lives in a ‘rape culture’ or not, apparently catering to men specifically. One reason is that rape in a rape culture is a ‘compliment’ and that it encourages male sexual aggression. The sources she provides for those claims come from her own blog. Highly questionable.

      • jose says

        “I just don’t agree that the system is rigged against women, or that the system perpetuates male dominance… ambiguous and untestable claims like rape culture and the patriarchy… my skepticism is high on alert when it comes to these things – especially since there’s no proof for either of them.”

        Fifteen thousand men arrested for forcible rape in the US last year. A hundred and fifty women arrested for the same crime. As for the rest of sex offenses, it’s forty five thousand men arrested as opposed to thirty five hundred women. For the added total of all violent crime, the group of men arrested is more than four times as big as the women arrested.

        That looks pretty testable. You can use a variety of metrics if you bother looking up the data. All of them paint a picture of an awfully tilted table. When it comes to crime and violence, we are definitely not equal.

      • mythbri says

        Of course, then there’s the radical nature of feminism which goes without saying. With that in mind, I have no problem with people labelling themselves equalists or humanists. Such ambiguous and untestable claims like rape culture and the patriarchy (of feminist theory). Needless to say, my skepticism is high on alert when it comes to these things – especially since there’s no proof for either of them. The most I’ve seen for the former is a movie from the 70′s called Rape Culture and a bit of lip service up ’til the mid 70′s, early 80′s, until it faded from memory only to resurface again recently in the early 2000′s. Also a blog from one Melissa McEwan.* The other, patriarchy, seem to stem from mostly radical feminists, particularly Valerie Solanas. At least, that’s what I’ve been able to find. Do you have other sources to contrast mine?

        Really? That’s all you’ve seen regarding rape culture? Then I must conclude that your no-doubt exhaustive search for material on the matter was not so exhaustive.

        http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transforming-a-rape-culture-emilie-buchwald/1102090979?ean=9781571312693

        http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rape-and-the-culture-of-the-courtroom-henner-hess/1108063163?ean=9780814782309

        http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/out-of-bounds-jeff-benedict/1111667889?ean=9780060726041

        http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Watching-Rape/Sarah-Projansky/e/9780814766897

        I won’t post anymore, for fear of getting in a spam-mod filter, but it’s fairly easy to go to Barnes & Noble’s website and type “rape culture” in the search feature. Also, Google.

  11. LittleGreenLeaf says

    The dominant version of feminism in my region of the world have now begun to forcibly prevent children in municipal kindergartens (3-7y, mostly boys), from playing outside and in the forest, because they argue that it cements gender stereotypes.

    They also claim, that anyone who do oppose this, is in fact, anti-feminists.

    I do oppose it, as much as I oppose the statements and characterization of an anti-feminist that you formulate here.

    I do not think this breakdown into us against them, and if you are not with us, you are against us, is constructive or helpful, quite the opposite.

    These turn of events seems to me deeply tragical, and feminism in many of its present variations, are running the risks of, or have in many cases already turned into warped mirror images of precise exactly what it originally set out to fight, namely oppressive and restrictive societal norms and cultures, which they now are trying to replace by other oppressive and utopian system.

    “I never really understood this critique of feminism because I remember how powerless I felt before I became a feminist, and I know how powerful I feel now.”

    I think everyone who has gone trough extensive military training or war, or have been a member of a tribe or gang, or a tight society with common backgrounds, interests and goals, have experienced very much the same. Likewise the difficulty of distancing oneself from the group far enough, to be able to critically evaluate and perceive opposing ideas, critique and perspectives.

    In all humility,

  12. says

    Saying feminism is about treating women as eternal victims is like, when someone talks about the wage gap, saying “if you think women are worth a third less than men, you’re the sexist.”

  13. says

    Ahhh, the “it’s only a small number of men who rape”.
    Sure, it’s only 6%. Sounds like really not a problem, 94% of men do not rape.
    Here’s the problem: Do you know 20 men? Yep, there’s a statistical rapist (as opposed to actual, for the dim-witted) amongst them. 40 men? Make that 2 of them. 100 men (and yes, you easily know 100 men) and it’s statistically 5 and the chances that this group has 0 actual rapists among them equals about 0. That’s about the number of men who live in the same house I do.
    Incidentially, some weeks ago one man entertained me with the sounds of him masturbating over the intercom while I waite for my kids to enter the house.
    Guess I should stop being such a victim and feel honoured that somebody still finds me attractive enough to act as a “Wichsvorlage*”.

    *German word for usually a pronographic picture of a women men look at while masturbating. Nothing against masturbating.

    +++
    Understanding sexism and rape culture did two things to me:
    A) It made me curl up in a ball because I realized that I wasn’t safe, it wasn’t me being really clever that prevented really bad things from happening.
    B) It was a damn relief because I could stop blaming myself for the bad but not really bad things that happened to me.

  14. Bill Openthalt says

    And the question is whether this inequality in crime and violence is caused by differences in culture and upbringing, or differences in nature. Are men by nature more violent, or is it because they played violent games?

    Why is autism ten times more prevalent in men than in women? Also a matter of nurture? There are lots of indications that statistically speaking, innate behavioural differences between the sexes exist, just as we know there are innate behavioural differences between individuals of the same gender.

    We can accept the existence of innate behaviour differences whithout justifying behaviour. The fact that some humans are more violent by nature doesn’t mean their violent acts should be excused, but neither should we assume these people to have potentially complete conscious control over their behaviour if “properly” educated. It is not fair to society, as it will expose its members to violence, but it is equally unfair to those individuals, who are deceived into believing they are failures. This does not mean that such individuals have no control over their behaviour, or that they cannot improve this control — just that it is more difficult for them than for others, and might be impossible in certain circumstances.

    Finally, the fact that statistically, more of these violent individuals are male has got nothing to do with the issue.

    • Copper says

      As a woman with high-functioning autism who was ignored for most of her childhood because “only men get autism,” shut your fucking mouth.

  15. Klango says

    “Such ambiguous and untestable claims like rape culture”

    The test would be looking to see if the things that rape culture describes actually happen. Rape cultures is just shorthand for a whole load of issues. The fact that rape victims are ignored or disbelieved in a way that does not happen to victims of other crimes, the culture that tells women how to dress and behave to avoid rape rather than telling men not to rape, that tells rape victims they can’t talk about their experiences or they’re playing the victim card.

    Do you not believe that these are things which regularly happen? The evidence is pretty rife that they do. Or do you accept that they happen but deny they contribute to actual harm? Just saying rape culture isn’t testable refutes nothing.

    There’s a shitload

  16. A Hermit says

    The anti-feminists use this trope to try and silence women. It isn’t that they really think women aren’t victimized; they would just prefer women to be silent victims.

    Any person who has the courage to speak up isn’t being a victim; those people are what I call fighters. I like those people…

  17. says

    In other words, anti-feminism blames you for having kids, and for not having kids. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

    It’s a gift that keeps on giving!! If you can slide something like that past your interlocutor you’ve got them positioned so you can hammer them regardless what they say or do. It’s intellectually dishonest as hell, but it’s a good tactic if you’re a sleaze-ball nihilist rhetoritician.

  18. daniellavine says

    “Such ambiguous and untestable claims like rape culture and the patriarchy (of feminist theory).”

    They’re pretty testable. For example, women make up 51% of the population. What percent of Congress do they make up? Now, if you had to come up with an explanation for this discrepancy you might cite the fact that there is a cultural perception in our society that men make better leaders. But that would be an example of patriarchy so you’ll probably have to come up with some other explanation if you want to maintain your “skepticism”.

    As for rape culture, it is a thing you can directly observe for yourself — for example, I’ve experienced it many times. All you have to do is go to a frat party. Ever heard the phrase “no means yes, yes means anal”? That’s an example of rape culture.

    Now that you’ve been shown up I expect some massive goalpost shifting. Please don’t disappoint.

  19. daniellavine says

    “Why is autism ten times more prevalent in men than in women? Also a matter of nurture? There are lots of indications that statistically speaking, innate behavioural differences between the sexes exist, just as we know there are innate behavioural differences between individuals of the same gender. ”

    But this is begging the question. This is your argument:
    A) It’s possible that the difference in violence is a result of physiological differences.
    B) Therefore, it is the result of physiological differences.

    Not a logically valid conclusion. There’s lots of reasons to believe that culture influences men to be more violent and excuses at least some of the violence they commit.

    This “it’s obviously biological” argument always seems to me an excuse for throwing hands in the air and giving up. No, at least some of it’s cultural (I suspect most given the fact that there have been matriarchal human societies in the past) and we can (and should) work on that.

  20. hackerguitar says

    Anti-Feminism is all about “shoulds.” As in “you should do what I think you should do, and I don’t have to do anything you think I should do.” Pretty much, if I hear a gendered statement and can’t flip genders, it’s going to be anti-feminist. And the shoulds are full of cognitive dissonance (the “damned if you have kids and damned if you don’t” meme applies here….).

    “Should” is a really dangerous, presumptive word in the hands of dogmatic knuckleheads.

  21. April Bledsoe says

    I attend a very right wing wealthy high school in TN, ever since I have moved here from Seattle I have experienced much sexism toward me and my fellow female peers. Example: In my advanced english class whenever a boy answers a question correctly he is praised by the other boys in the class and by the teacher but when a girl answers a question correctly there is no awknowledgement at all. A worse example: there is a popular boy in my A.P. U.S. History who has openly said the following things (word for word- these were so awful I could not forget no matter how hard I try- and I have tried) “Girls shouldn’t be allowed to vote.” “Girls don’t matter.” And my all time nightmare starter: “Girls shouldn’t even be taught to read.” The scariest part about my experience here is that when boys (and sometimes girls) say sexist things openly before a class, the teachers and administrators don’t say anything. Moving here has opened a world to me that I had not known existed in Seattle and I am horrified by the daily onslaught of sexist, racist, and homophobic comments I hear. I am telling you all of this because today is #ThankAFeminist day and I want to thank you most sincerely. Reading your blogs and tweets has helped me to re-open myself to the realization that there are others like me who see those I am surrounded by as crazy. Thank you for encouraging people of all genders to be themselves in a world where people are easily shunned. Thank you for giving me hope of a future escape.

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