Part 2 in the “Global Feminisms” series. Seven notes on the piece:
1 Red is necessary.
2 I got pregnant the semester before my final year of art school. Despite being 24 years old and married I still felt I had done something taboo and was ashamed of my rounding belly. At the same time, I could not have been prouder when I was anywhere but school.
3 I took a Feminism class that semester and at the time knew nothing of feminism except that I wouldn’t call myself one and did not think it was necessary. In fact, I agreed with one of our early articles that called feminism dead. What did I lack that other genders did not, after all?
4 That semester someone passed around a survey asking women to draw their bodies, with labels for all the internal and external genitalia. These drawings were later exhibited; they showed an incredible range of creativity, but also misinformation, body shame, and general ignorance. Mine contained mostly anatomically correct labels, but also departures such as lips, hole, and nest.
5 At the age of 33, I was fired (or hired and fired before I could start) from a nanny agency because “they found my story” and it was “too disturbing” (at the time, my only published writing). The writing in question was lyrical creative nonfiction, about the effects of being raped as a child. The implications were many, but partly that I was a bad person who should be ashamed of herself. Good girls go to therapy and forgive their perpetrators and keep their mouths shut. Also, the whole victim-blaming load of crap.
6 After the smoke cleared from that experience, which left me feeling a shame I had been promised was not mine to carry, I returned to school for a degree in Women’s Studies.
7 Red is necessary. Red is rage and red is love. Red is blood and danger and strength.
So is feminism.