My first introduction to Feminism was through my parents. Despite being Conservative- and all of the problematic personality traits which they possess on occasion- my parents ultimately raised my sister and I to be relatively modern and Liberal women, Feminists, and Egalitarians.
Like many modern people today, my parents may not have understood other people very well, but they did understand that every person was different; that each person’s experiences, wants, and needs were varied and unique. They imposed upon us the belief that it was a person’s right to live their life however they chose to, and allow them the ability to make their own choices- even if we ultimately disagreed with those choices or did not understand them. They went a long way in supporting my Sister in I in our endeavors, encouraging and enabling us to do as we wanted.
My parents also taught us not to follow other people blindly; to question all forms of authority and to make our own decisions for ourselves through research and education. If we took issue with something, they said, then it was better to bring a well reasoned and educated argument to the table then stomp our feet and say “because I don’t want to do it that way”… That it was better to make an educated decision to (or not to) do something than it was to make an emotional one. Alongside this we were also taught to stand up for what we believed in- no matter how many people we angered in doing so.
A lot has changed in regard to their behavior over the years, of course; they’re no longer the compassionate, open minded, accepting people that they once were. Or maybe they never were to begin with, and I’m viewing them through the lens of my younger self- ignorant of the reality of many things. Regardless, however, the lessons I took away from their parenting until my age of majority have stuck with me over the years. That wasn’t always the case, however.
My first real Feminist ideology was not the Choice Feminism that you would expect with such an upbringing. Instead, it was the particularly Militant variants of Radical Feminism which I immersed myself in; unfortunately the internet has all too often proven itself to be a gateway into toxicity- and as such an impressionable teen I discovered the deepest, darkest recesses of truly militant ideology.
And I was extreme; when we think of modern Feminists as these bra burning, man hating, “fuck everything, burn the whole country down”, butch women? We’re talking about me. I epitomized that ideology and everything negative that comes with it in many ways- even if I held onto my bras and still wore makeup while doing so.
By my Junior year I had begun to lax in the extremeness of my conviction; I began to embrace more of the traditionally feminine things which I had previously rejected so militantly and even began to Model for a while. After graduation, however, after several more abusive partners my actions worsened much before they ever improved.
I went through an approximate three year period from 2008 to 2011 where I was very forcibly Radical Feminist and a self-identified Social Justice Warrior of the worst variety- something which was only exacerbated by my joining Tumblr in in early 2011 where militant ideologies such as mine appear to reign supreme.
When I first entered the Tumblr Pagan community, I was a fresh faced 20 year old who thought she knew everything, learned otherwise, and was bitter at the world for having to change her tune. In “changing my tune”, ultimately I made some very poor decisions about my relationships and my friends. I also picked the wrong battles and I fought those battles in all the wrong ways- and conducted myself poorly on a lot of levels. I got caught up in the drama and the elitism, and so, so much more. Mixing that with the toxicity that that community can sometimes possess, failing mental health that left me dissociating and in desperate need of therapy and institutionalization, and other problems of my own that I routinely took out on others… The result was nasty in some of the worst ways- but I would continue to spend another two years from 2011 to 2013 as a venomous, toxic shell of a person.
And I was toxic on all levels- both to myself and others- and teetered blindly on the edge of Misandry Feminism to the point that I was ultimately Misogynist in my own beliefs and actions; I lived, ate, and breathed rhetoric that men were the absolute, evil, oppressive force and everything was a tool of the Patriarchy meant to oppress us. I hated anything associated with femininity and womanhood- vehemently attacking anyone who dared participate in those things- from Housewives to Models, Porn Stars, those who enjoyed BDSM, and so on.
Not only was anything specifically codified as feminine a tool of the Patriarchy, but everything and anything was viewed as ultimately a tool of oppression, silencing, and forced servitude to Men… And I hated it all with a vengeance.