They’ve been saying 2017 was the year of women. I think it was the year of pink.
Growing up, I was always a “girly girl.” My mother and grandmother would weave my hair into braids it always fell out of, vainly trying to secure the strands with big, bright clips—some shaped like butterflies, some with flowers dangling, some covered in pink glitter. I was obsessed with nail polish. I had a treasure trove of half-completed necklace making kits and shoeboxes full of elaborate bracelets.
My favorite color was pink, until fifth grade. Then, I moved to a new school, and the first thing I learned from the girls in my class was that pink was not an acceptable favorite color. (Okay, actually the first thing I learned was that Nick was the best Jonas brother. But after that it was the pink thing.) Blue was my new friends’ color of choice. Pink, it seemed, was too girly, too childish, too obvious.
It sounds so dumb to admit it, and I never have before, but I was nine years old, trying to fit in any way I could. A favorite color seemed a small compromise to make for new friendships. I traded in my pink bookbag for a blue one, and that was that.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about one of the stickers on my laptop. It’s small, in the bottom corner, and by all accounts should be relatively innocuous. But it gets a lot of attention. In bubbly pink letters, it says “Feminist.”
The letters are in Beyoncé font, in “Flawless” font, a reference to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's famous monologue in the song, which beautifully ends with “Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
(For the record—I just quoted that by heart.)
I don’t remember when I first heard the word “feminist,” or when I first started identifying as one. I do know it’s been a long journey. In the beginning, I was the “crazy feminist” of the family. My feminism wasn’t something to be celebrated. It was marked by hours and days and months-long debates, by volumes of reading, by constant reworking of my ideals and my arguments. And it marked me too—as someone who was too loud, too bold, too insistent.
It’s not easy, my feminism. Feminism isn’t easy at all.
And in the beginning, I was adamant that there was nothing controversial about the word “feminist.” But now I see white feminism, where women like me are in desperate need of liberation. Performative feminism, where Wonder Woman empowers little girls everywhere (except for the ones born in Palestine). Social media feminism, where the movement begins and ends with a tweet.
It’s worn me down. Sometimes, the word begins to feel empty, loaded with weight that has no substance, as blank as the color it’s written in on my laptop.
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