Why am I a feminist? I just am, and I haven’t really questioned it.

There are always women who like to say they are not feminists — famous, successful, courageous and powerful woman at that(!) — but, then, those women who say that have made their voices heard across the globe, over time, loudly and clearly, and that probably couldn’t have happened without a great deal of help from feminism, and I guess technology.

When I was a young girl, I never heard about feminism, even though it was at its height and heyday, when women burned their bras and parted their hair in the middle and called out for revolution. They read books about it with bubbly fonts on the cover. They started collectives where they would teach each other how to care for their bodies. They spent almost all their time learning to not be afraid.

After awhile, they were no longer afraid, but just burning up with anger, so much that they had to set their bras on fire. They had to show how much patriarchy had hurt them, and all women. This was courageous and exciting; I am sure if I were there I would have wept with joy and rage.

I wish I had been able to participate in this. I can only read about it now, wondering how much was lost to biased reports and people not getting it.

It would have been a struggle for me to burn my bra, though. I love lingerie, and bras are my favorite. The lacy architecture is a tribute to the beauty of women’s bodies. Bras, for me, have never been about anyone else but me, and maybe that is the patriarchy working within me, but I have always liked bras and I kind of don’t care why. Not a girdle though. That is straight-up torture if you ask me. Boobs up, belly out –- that is my motto.

There are some things that are attributed to feminism that I don’t believe are inherent to it, like puritanical attitudes toward sex and a general distrust of the trappings of stereotypical, idealized beauty. A feminist may or may not feel these things. We are all different, as women are different.

All I know is that as a woman, in my work, and in my life, I have been treated as if my achievements were less valuable because they were borne from my body. I only know this because I have worked closely, been intimate with, risen and fallen with men of all kinds. I have done the same with women of all kinds –- and my assessment, of all the humanity I have experienced: Women get the short end of it.

So therefore, my feminism — it’s kind of necessary. I don’t want to feel like I am less than anyone, and so I have to label myself in order to be ready for the fight.

I don’t want young girls to fear the word feminism, because they will desperately need it out in the world, and to fear what will help you, make you stronger, better, happier -– it makes no sense.

Sometimes women say they are not feminist in order to be closer to men, to side with men, to be one of the “guys,” but I think being feminist, and therefore calling yourself equal to men is the truer, more sincere way of being closer to men, because you are telling men that they don’t have to do everything anymore, that you will gladly split the burden of the earth, which weighs on us all, regardless of how our bodies are made.

This post originally appeared on XOJane.com. 

11 thoughts on “Feminism

  1. As a man, my feelings about feminism have been confused and conflicted, I went through a phase where I tried to out-feminism the feminists, so they would like me better. It didn’t work, they just thought I was gay. Then I went through a phase where I really hated my own gender, after reading some of the most vehement feminist tracts that characterized any sex between men and women as a form of rape. That really did wonders for my self-esteem. I still have issues with my own gender, but I allow myself to be misogynogist (?) from time to time, you see? a true man can’t even spell the word!! I accept that I still need to be educated about women, and have crappy attitudes I am not even aware of. It has been helpful these last few weeks, being involved in orgasmic meditation. I have been getting some really honest feedback from women. In that I feel that women should be treated no differently than men in regard to pay, job opportunity, benefits, being a soldier, I am definitely a feminist. But actually I am an odd fit in both the male and female and gay camps. I am not your typical straight man, I’m not gay, and, obviously, not a woman, although I identify with lesbians in a lot of ways.

  2. I wonder if Ms.Cho feels the same way as I do, that Spanx (the spandex product that smooths out lumps and lady bumps) are the modern day girdle.
    In a popular culture class the bra (as fun and varying as they are) was compared as a north american cultural burqa. It was interesting, when looking to [staged] images of nude women in both cultures, seeing what it was they covered when exposed. The overall messages of the images were that our identities are closely linked to our bodily expression, what is acceptable in societies, and who was being exploited/controlled. Feminism encompasses all, and I recommend checking out the “Who Needs Feminism” movement happening now. Bras maybe aren’t burned today (that sh*ts expensive!), and women have achieved a lot, but it rages on.
    Women rights are HUMAN rights, and that concerns everyone.

    On a slightly alternative note: bras. I am so tired of La Senza (a popular undergarment chain). EVERYTHING I find seems to have extreme padding. They are promoting a certain body type that if you don’t have it–fake it. It is not ok. I feel so foolish as a boyish body type trying to find something that is fun and looks good, because there is a (metaphorical) mile between my body and the world. Why are A and B cups being disguised by these padded lies?

    P.S. Margaret Cho, I watch DROP DEAD DIVA because of you (my guilty pleasure), I prefer your comedy though 😛

  3. I enjoyed this entry. Being introduced to Feminism has seriously changed my life as a person with a female body. I’m a drummer in a band in Richmond, Va and I can’t even describe how much pressure I have felt to work ten times harder at my craft just to be equally recognized as a cisman drummer. There are other times where people give me too much credit, and compliment that I’m an “awesome girl drummer” (I’m genderqueer anyways, so fuck that twice). But I think that people in general should not be afraid of the word Feminism. It’s a movement that is striving to end oppressions for all people, regardless of class, race, ability, age, sexual orientation, gender, sex, etc. People need to get out of the mindset that Feminism is still in an era of “burning bras”, it’s progressed much much further and has helped many people. Including me. It has given me the knowledge that I don’t have to conform to the norms that society has inscribed on my body. That alone is liberating and fucking awesome. Thank you for talking about Feminism, for real! Ha.

    By the way, love your heaven’s gateweed track, hilarious!

  4. Margaret,
    Just so you know, you were the first strong women for me to see on TV. Luckily, I had censor free parents and a nerdy brother to experience your stand up at a young age. You are the one that sparked that strength and feminism in my heart! THANK YOU!
    -FAN! Victoria

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