It's International Women's Day, and if you're wondering why we still need that to be a thing, or worse, if you're wondering why we don't have International Men's Day (which is every day, because the word is patriarchy), just know that I'm internally screaming at you. A lot.
Here's the thing about me, I've identified as Feminist, with a capital "F," since I was eleven years old. I'm not saying this for cookies, but to explain that your patriarchal bullshit will not find an audience with me. Ever. Do you know how much shit I took as a wee, baby middle schooler for that? How often I was called a feminazi and all sorts of various slurs for lesbian until I literally transferred schools half-way through high school? And I still didn't give up on the "radical notion that women are people."
I was writing opinion essays about abortion access in sixth grade. I was the girl, at sixteen, who handed her best friend a mirror under the bathroom stall door because she literally did not know anything about the makeup and layout of her own genitalia* and couldn't figure out how to use a tampon. Yeah. I was also the girl who, and only maybe a little bit for the sake of being provocative, told my girlfriends that when it came to high school hook-ups, if you wanted something done right, you should do it yourself. (I still basically stand by that advice, by the way. If you want to enjoy partnered sex, you should probably know what you like and be willing and able to communicate it. And if you're with someone whose ego is too fragile to handle a little direction, don't fuck them.)
And you know what helps a lot of women* learn to communicate their desires to their partners (and to themselves)? ROMANCE. Modern romance (the good stuff, anyway) centers female agency, pleasure, and autonomy. Is it any wonder that I've been railing against the patriarchy for two-thirds of my life, particularly centering reproductive rights and bodily autonomy, and now I'm writing fiction that focuses on women? Yeah, it all makes sense to me now, too.
I know that my version of feminism isn't perfect, no one's is, and infighting about ideological purity distracts us from getting shit done. But that doesn't mean we don't need to have those uncomfortable conversations about where we could be doing better. We have to listen. We have to be intersectional. Feminism has to be for ALL women, regardless of race, orientation, gender identity and presentation, disability, religion, class, and every intersection thereof. What hurts trans women, disabled women, women of color, queer women, poor women, eventually hurts us all.
Love to everyone striking and marching today. Love to those who aren't able to do so, whether because they can't afford to skip work, or are terrified of crowds (me too! come sit by me in the quiet corner!), or whatever your reason may be.
If you can, may I suggest donating to the fine folks at Planned Parenthood? (they have a really easy monthly donation set-up, if you've got coins to spare, and you can make your donation region or state-specific).
Or, if you care about teens having access to solid, evidence-based information about their bodies and sexuality, you can donate to Scarleteen.
Last suggestion, if you're on Twitter (or tumblr, too, I think) and looking for ways to help, search the hashtag #TransCrowdFund to help trans and NB folks in need of assistance, whether it's help with medical bills or legal fees to get paperwork in order. Or hell, just help paying rent. Because trans folks are much more likely than the general population to be living in poverty, and this is especially true for trans people of color.
I'm getting off my soapbox now to get back to writing a heroine who, though she might be a late bloomer, is not afraid of what turns her on.
*Can I just get a huge shout-out to my mom for giving me a copy of the tween/teen version of something akin to Our Bodies, Ourselves? Also letting me scare my elementary school teachers by writing and illustrating an accurate-ish version of early fetal cell division. Thanks, Mom.
*Also, whenever I say "women," you better fucking believe I mean trans women, too. Wherever you are in the QUILTBAG, you are who you are, you're valid, and you're valued.