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Before I was a feminist

by Sarah Schaan | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | February 1st, 2017

What was I before I was a feminist, before I even knew what that word meant?

I was a proud daddy’s girl

In my mind, it meant that I was strong, independent and wild. I could be clever enough to figure out problems with my own two hands and ask the question ‘why.’ It allowed me to minimalize my mother's contributions, because what a mother gives is the right of her child, but what a father gives is a gift. These were never things my parents said, but what I learned from society.

I was an awkward tomboy

I felt anxious and unsure around girls, because I was too loud, too rough, to fit in. I did my best to field the teasing while I followed the boys around. Their relationships made sense at least.

I was a pretty girl with a fragile ego

I spent high school thinking about who I would marry instead of what I could become. I obsessed about being fat, ugly, pale, wrong hair, wrong clothes and on and on. One glance or brush off from a guy could make or break my day.

I always needed a relationship

My self-confidence came from my latest selfie and my current relationship. I went from guy to guy desperately trying to find that magic relationship that would make me whole.

I argued with feminists

I never wanted to be one of those "man-haters" because it seemed better to be a man than a woman. Why would I ever be proud of my femininity? Society told me it represented all that was weak and passive-aggressive within me.

Then I realized I didn't hate women. I hated myself.

I hated who society needed me to be. It told me that I couldn’t trust myself. It told me that my needs were inappropriate and that trying to meet them was selfish.

I realized that I am loud, creative and good at fixing things. I love picking flowers and wrenching on bikes. I like taking care of myself as much as taking care of others. The best way for me to learn anything is still with my own two hands and asking why.

I realized that the first step to embracing my entire gender was to embrace myself.

I went back in my mind and told that anxious little tomboy that her needs are valid, and that she can create her own definition of “girl.”

I went back and told that 14-year-old that she didn’t need perfection to be amazing. She needed to know that she would never let others really love her until she loved herself.

I finally embraced my gloriously awkward self, and learned that self-worth is a grace that you must practice every day. You can’t get it from anyone else. I am so grateful that I am a girl and that I was put on this weird path. It has taught me that feminism isn’t about one better than the other.

It’s about being equal.

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