The quiet girl who didn’t speak, didn’t raise her hand in class, walked with her head tilted down–one day that girl found her voice. And she started yelling. She wasn’t mad, no matter the definition you may have, she just wanted to be heard. On that day, I, Natalie Hart, age 14, claimed my name. I was a feminist, and proud of it.
However, not everyone was as proud as I was to belong to this group of warrior women. A new generation of women had emerged who talked about feminism as being outdated, a vintage/retro proclamation that no longer applied to them. I wasn’t aware that equality and social justice had expiration dates like milk.
During a Social Justice Day event at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., I was required to submitted a project for my Feminism and Social Action class. Here was my chance to proclaim. I chose the topic Reclaim the Name, taking the apologetic concept “I’m not a feminist but…” and turning it into the declaration “I am a feminist because…” The idea was to remove any damning myths associated with the feminist movement by coming out, loud and proud, about the reality of what being a feminist really means. In that way we can recognize our shared ‘herstory’ and remember that only the day we stop listening and learning is the day the movement truly dies.
In an attempt to reach a wider variety of people I created with the help of my sister a Facebook page asking other women to complete the same sentence: “I am a feminist because …” In this forum I can keep the commentary going, extending it beyond the reach of Social Justice Day and the walls of the Sierra College campus. Here are some of the responses:
I am a Feminist because I believe in Equality, Compassion and Tolerance.
I am a feminist because once you understand male privilege how can you not [be].
I’m a feminist because….of so many reasons!! Because I am a woman, because I am a mom, because I believe in equality, because I FIGHT LIKE A GIRL!
The author of that last line, my professor Megan Seely, encouraged me to spread the wings of the Reclaim the Name campaign and ask for help from the world of feminist publications to spread the word that we will no longer hide from our feminist truth.
So I am reclaiming the name of feminism for me, for you, for a future generation that will follow our footsteps, as we follow those who marched before us. I ask that you join me in the campaign to Reclaim the Name, to stand up and declare “I am a Feminist because…”
Join the discussion here on Facebook.
Poster designed by Natalie Hart.