On being a Public Feminist

I’ve been interested in gender issues for a really long time. Thinking about it, I almost don’t remember a time I wasn’t preoccupied with gender based oppression and bias. At 15 I made a school project where my friend Josefine and I shot pictures of Barbie dolls immersed in raw mead and maggots to comment on the objectification of the female body. So yeah, I’m a feminist, but recently it’s become much more of a public matter, and that is actually kind of challenging.

I hadn’t considered what it would mean to my self image or other people’s opinion of me to launch this blog because I really, seriously never expected anyone to read it. Ok, maybe like my sister, my professor and a handful of friends, but never the hundreds of people who  have clicked onto Moist since its launch, and I sure had never thought it would get attention in the press.

When I first worked on the menstruation essay at Goldsmiths I do remember finding it a little bit challenging to have to tell people what I was working on. Not big time challenging, but sort of on an affective level having to deal with breaking taboos. That is nothing compared to how much I talk about and am confronted with it now, and while I encounter mostly positive response (phew) there is some negative feedback and there is looooaaads of awkwardness.

One person, when I arrived at a meeting, said: “hey, you’re totally normal!”

Basically, being a public feminist means I’m not normal anymore. As in, I no longer represent the views of the majority, those which constitute the norm, in the setting I speak in. As a white, heterosexual, able-bodied middle class woman, I’ve never been really challenged on my normality, even if I have been interested in investigating it. Now that I’m voicing opinions that counter public discourse, I really feel like that is changing, and it’s not particularly pleasant, cause being normal is really nice. Nice in the aaah-I-don’t-have-to-think-too-much-about-anything sort of way. It’s the core argument of queer theory, and only now am I understanding it in an embodied way. It’s freaking me out.

I’m probably making too big a deal out of it. I have a date tomorrow and I’ve been debating if I should tell him about Moist. It will inevitable change his perception of me to know that I have a period blog and, as my estranged gay husband Timothy said: “I’d like to tell you that it will separate the bad men from the good, and you really don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. But sometimes you really just want to get with someone dumb and pretty.” Meaning, I might need to be strategically dishonest. Which is fine, it’s how things work, but I’ve never had to do it before. Or at least be so conscious about it. Gay people, transgender people etc. do it all the time, but those of us who slide easily through the norm generally don’t have to. It’s kind of a sucky lesson to learn, but an important one, and an important reminder that there is a need for debate on normality, sexuality and gender. I.e. feminism. And that it has repercussions not to be conformist.

So it kind of feels like I’m becoming The Menstruation Girl now. Not sure how I feel about that, if we’re being completely honest. Or rather, I feel great about working on Moist So Moist, but the implications reach further than I had thought. There’s a big possibility I’m being overly dramatic about this. When I told Astrida Neimanis about all of my thoughts on this last week, she just looked at me, smiled and said: “what, you’re afraid of being a feminist?”

When you put it that way, I guess I should just get over it.

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