January 13, 2016

Eloise Derrett

I was 14-years-old when I first heard about feminism.

One of my friends begun talking about it, and I began to become more and more interested. I knew that on some level, I had always agreed with feminism; I had always thought that men and women should be treated equally (hadn’t everyone?). I was just afraid to voice this as I didn’t feel I knew enough about feminism to say that I identified with the movement.

I didn’t completely come to openly identify as a feminist until this year. For a year, I spent my time learning about feminism, and educating myself about the world around me so I would feel confident in calling myself a feminist. In my head, I referred to this as ‘finding my feminism’.

I have this vivid memory from grade 6. I was out in the yard with my friends, and one of them referred to something as ‘gay’. I remember agreeing, saying that whatever we were talking about was ‘so gay’. I remember feeling guilty about saying it, part of me asked why ‘gay’ would be considered an insult.

I don’t think I ever used the word ‘gay’ as a pejorative again.

Once I decided that I wanted to be a feminist, I realised I needed to educate myself. I wanted to figure out exactly what feminists wanted, because in the back of my head I was worried that someone would call me out on how little I knew about feminism, a bit like a quiz where I would get all of the answers wrong.

Conversation in my head
Stranger: So you’re a feminist, huh. What do you want?
Me: Equal rights?
Stranger: And?
Me: *hyperventilates*
Stranger: *face palms*

Although that sort of scenario is highly unlikely, it scared me. I didn’t want to disgrace all of those amazing ladies who had come before me, fighting for what we consider some of the most basics rights today. So here I began my feminist education. It actually started when I joined the Truth4Youth group because exposure to people is a great thing. Their ideas and views rub off on you, it helps to hear people talking about stuff you don’t know to learn. If you don’t know maths, listen to your teacher talk. Or if you don’t know how to play drums, you can do what Christian Bale did and learn in two weeks by listening to nothing but Pantera and Mastodon. Exposure always helps.

I exposed myself to feminism by reading, lots of reading. Most of it was on Facebook, or Twitter or even Instagram, but hey, I was reading. This was really important as I began learning all of these new terms I had never heard before. I learned that gender and sexuality are both fluid and I began learning more about how LGBTI people are marginalised. I began to learn more about race issues, something that I hadn’t really considered up until then because it had never affected me. I now have a much better understanding of how people of colour are persecuted and marginalised due to their race. I learned about how we marginalise people with disabilities, and how as a society, we tend to cater to the needs of well off, educated, straight, white people.

While I am 100 per cent more confident in identifying as a feminist, there’s still a lot more for me to learn. My ideas and priorities are bound to change, but that’s life. We grow up and we grow as people. I still believe in the same things I did when I was younger, although now rather than wanting equality for just men and women, I want it for every human, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion.

Everyone’s ‘finding my feminism’ journey is different, but one thing that’s the same is education. Read and learn as much as you can. There’s nothing more powerful than knowledge.


– Eloise Derrett

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