I have some experience with rejecting self-taken identity. I have some experience with leaving communities. I have some experience with realizing that a thing you thought was good—and maybe it once was—is no longer a thing you can be part of.
I get this. In a really fundamental way. It is catastrophic to me that this shit happens, that it has to happen in this way, with so much damage, but it does. Communities become damaged; masks no longer fit. The preceding trauma looks like the cause, but it isn’t. It isn’t even the last straw. It’s more the light that flips on and shows you that the thing you thought was a camel’s back isn’t, and the thing you thought you were dealing with isn’t what you were dealing with at all.
I am a feminist. Still now, and hopefully always. But feminism is plural and feminism is complex, and like anything made of people, feminism can be fucked up. The flip side of your movement doesn’t exist is that, actually, your movement does exist, and it has the boundaries that you set for it and it includes the people that you choose to include. There is no feminist movement because there are many feminist movements.
My feminism is exclusive. It’s exclusive of hate, it’s exclusive of violence, and it’s fundamentally exclusive of anyone who isn’t capable of compassion in the most literal sense—com-passion. Feeling together. My feminism is built by beautiful women, so many, whose writing gives shape to monsters whose faces we study so that we can stab them. My feminism is built by women who build movements and cities in the shadows of these creatures, who build spaces of love with their hands and their tongues. (And these spaces, though they are not always built for me, radiate warmth to me, because that is what they are.) The words of these women are my words; their monsters, my monsters.
My feminism understands that you don’t build these cities or slay these dragons one-at-a-time. That you can’t. That it is, in fact, metaphysically impossible to unmake any oppression without dealing with the violence of gender, and it is just as impossible to unmake gendered violence without dealing with all oppression.
Maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s not a thing shared by many other people; maybe it’s not a thing many other people want to share. Maybe that thing that other people call feminism is not my feminism. Maybe some of the very people building my feminism can’t call themselves feminists (which, by the by? fucked up.) But this thing that is my feminism? In the end, I kinda love it. It’s a part of me (though, despite all the possessives, it isn’t just mine). I want to build it. I want to watch it grow. I want to see the beautiful thing it is going to become. That’s the feminism I know.