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I Do Not Exist

August 27, 2010

To many people, I don’t exist.  It’s okay, I’m used to it.  But sometimes I wonder if the list is ever going to get long enough that I’ll disappear completely.  Like that scene in Back to the Future, where Marty is about to fade away because his parents haven’t met, I wonder if someday enough people will declare that I don’t exist to cause me to actually fade from existence.

I do not exist as a bisexual woman.  Now that I am engaged to a man, I’m declared heterosexual.  If I had fallen in love with a woman, I would be declared homosexual.  And all that stuff before?  Never mind that.  Clearly, it was just youthful experimenting.

I do not exist as a fan of video games, comic books, or other traditionally geeky pursuits.  I am only allowed to enjoy “girly” games, read manga, and I must make my choice about what laptop to buy based on the colors it comes in.

And now, I do not exist as a young feminist.

I have never stood for another woman’s right to choose.  Never mind all those hours escorting at the local Planned Parenthood.  I have never worked to ensure women’s voices are heard.  Never mind the work I’ve done helping young women register to vote.  I have never spoken up to point out a friend’s sexism.  Never mind the people in my life who have come to rethink their privileges and have stood to declare themselves feminist, too.  My work as an abuse survival counselor, an advocate for accurate sexual education, a participant in charity fund raising?  All that is worthless, because I am not really a young feminist.

Anyone who claims that young feminist don’t exist clearly hasn’t bothered going out to look for young feminists.  We’re out here.  We may not be shouting in the streets, but my generation doesn’t need to be.  We can make our voices heard online just as loudly, and often more clearly than any protest rally ever did.  The online communities that some older feminists have dismissed as unproductive has spread word of women in need, shed light on injustices, and caused major corporations to rethink the way they present their products to women.

It seems to me that what the previous generation of feminists wants to see from the younger generation is the sort of grand gestures and great strides that they themselves made.  But young feminists don’t need to fight those battles.  They have been fought, and won.  Right now, what I see young feminists focusing on is taking that hard won ground and pushing it just a little further forward.  Just a little further out.  The previous generation made great leaps and bounds of progress.  My generation is all about holding the very long line in this battle for equality, and pushing it forward a little at a time.

I am a young feminist.  I am here, even if some people refuse to believe in me.  I believe in myself, and the feminists of my generation.  And I am not going to fade away.

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