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Document Women spoke to three young feminists on their feminist awakening, how life is different for them now compared to before they donned the title and how their newfound ideology affects their interactions and relationships with people around them.
‘Decluttering and housekeeping’
18-year-old Engell was 16 when she first started calling herself a feminist. “I met an amazing person and they opened my eyes to a lot of things that were wrong and problematic and I just did my own research from there. I was tired of being treated like shit and letting it slide just because I am a girl.”
“Now, life is great. I’m self-aware and know my worth. I stand up for other people as well. Feminism is like insecticide for me. It has helped me prune my environment and so I’m surrounded by intelligent and amazing people and I won’t settle for less. Sure, I’ve had to cut off 90% of the people I knew before feminism, but, it’s for the best.”
‘Calling out the bullshit’
“I started calling myself a feminist when I was 17. Before then, I used to be the sort of person to say, “I support women’s rights, but these feminists are doing too much.” What inspired my feminist awakening was that I listened to feminists. The things they stood for and said didn’t seem as ridiculous as other people were making it out to be and I was like yeah, these are my bad bitches.”
20-year-old Zainab started questioning a lot of practices that she thought were normal and “it just seemed right”.
“The feminists were doing what needed to be done and, I wanted in. I’m now more aware of things. I don’t let “misogyny lite” slide. I also probe a lot of things surrounding gender. Who created this binary and how can we abolish it? It means I don’t have time for men’s nonsense or anyone’s nonsense really. I’m always checking people and calling out their sexism so I’ve lost a few friends. I don’t have a lot of male friends because most men I meet can’t handle me constantly pointing out their rubbish.”
‘The joy of community’
“I was 16/17 when I started referring to myself as a feminist. Honestly, I don’t even necessarily remember an “awakening”. A lot of internalized misogyny is tied to heterosexuality and I’ve been fruity since I was little, so I already held some feminist views before I even knew what feminism was. I remember that I got on Twitter when I was 16 and not only found a word to describe it but a community that shared the same views. This also applies to my queerness. My enlightenment for both went hand in hand.”
Demilade, now 18, remembers her ex insulting “Twitter feminists” and trying to discourage her from following them. “He’d been on Twitter long before I joined and was sort of my guide for it. Of course, that only increased my curiosity.”
“Life now that I’m a proud feminist is not too different. Admittedly, Twitter was instrumental in my growth. I have more words to describe and label my views more clearly and concisely. I also learned about the intersectionality of different oppressive systems, with misogyny being the common denominator for most, if not all of them. So there’s been a lot of enlightenment. I feel more confident in my views and all the knowledge I’ve gained and continue to gain has provided more clarity regarding my “place” in society.”
“It comforts me in interactions when I discover that people around me are feminists and I automatically close up when I discover that they’re not. My feminism has definitely severed some relationships but it has also created some, and for that, I will always believe it has a positive effect on my interactions and relationships. Getting harassed or even abused for my beliefs isn’t fun but knowing I have like-minded people in my corner makes it a bit easier.”