#thenewfword A letter to before I was a feminist

Dear Little Me,

 You don’t know what the word feminist means yet, you won’t for quite a while. All you know right now is that you’re a vegetarian ‘cos mum and dad say you are. There’s video evidence of this, at your birthday party your grand grandmother will try and give you a salad with bacon in it, it’s okay ‘cos Auntie Nikki will save you. Despite this your nan is right, you wouldn’t have known the difference is anyway.

 You’ll grow up a little and begin to understand, being a feminist is a pretty rubbish thing, being a feminist means that when your mum hears you and your friends giggling about sex in the backseat she’ll find the need to draw you an anatomically correct picture of a vagina and a penis. You still haven’t really forgiven her for that, and you’re a lot older now.

 You won’t have a lightbulb moment, you’ll read The Female Eunuch when you’re fourteen but close it in the section when she talks about tasting your own menstrual blood. For Christmas the year that you turn 15 you’ll get a copy of Gender Troubles by Judith Butler. You’ll never read the entire book all the way through. You’ll write three essays at university based on her theories and you’ll still never read an entire chapter. Because you don’t understand her you’ll say she’s stupid. Until I finish the book I don’t know if that’s true or not.

 People won’t really understand where you’re coming from, they’re about to start calling you names, ‘cos you’re different. Try not to let it get to you too much, it’s not really that bad to be a feminist. In the end you’ll actually find that it gives you the strength you need to make it through the hard times.

 You’ll be an angry hairy feminist for a while, you’ll spend a year flirting with lipstick post-feminism. Then you’ll have a lecturer who completely changes the way you think about everything. She’s pretty hated by a lot of people but she makes you radical. You won’t throw away your heels or cut your hair but you’ll become more empowered and questioning.

 When you’re 21 you’ll shave your armpits for an election pledge, it’ll get your campaign 500 bucks but you’ll still cry when you do it. It seems like less of a big deal after that. One of your teachers from high school will tell you that you paved the way for strong feminist women at your old school, you’ll cry at this too. Basically feminism means a lot of crying for you, but that’s okay too.

 For you #thenewfword is really just the old ‘f’ word. It’s never a dirty word around your house. Except for when your mum draws the diagram. That part sucks.

 There’s a lot of time left to go in your life, but I don’t think you’ll ever stop being a feminist. For now you can keep playing with your Barbie dolls. Kiri who’s your favourite won’t be yours for much longer though, you’re about to leave her in the sun and she’s going to melt. You won’t get over it for a week.

 In Sisterhood,

 Noni xx

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