The following article was written by Abigail Rine, a professor at the university I went to. I almost took a class from her. Now I’m sad I didn’t.
“The term is great for rallying the converted. For everyone else, though, it’s a PR liability.”
By Abigail Rine
“When I was a senior in college and a recent convert to feminism, I bought one of those “This is What a FEMINIST Looks Like!” t-shirts, and it quickly became my favorite item of clothing. The lettering was pink—ironically pink, of course—and I liked to push that irony further by pairing the shirt with a skirt, and maybe even some knee-high boots with flowers embroidered around the top.
When I got married a year after graduation, I wore the shirt proudly on the first day of my honeymoon, while holding the hand of my new husband, our flea-market wedding bands gleaming. I enjoyed the confused looks from people who would stare at my shirt and then at me; I could almost see their brains whirring, trying to process the mismatch between the person in front of them and the shrill, angry, neo-Amazon that a feminist is supposed to be. I loved challenging that misconception, with almost evangelistic zeal.
Seven years later, I still have the t-shirt, but it now lives in a box of old clothes in the attic. I can’t bring myself to give it away, but I also can’t remember the last time I wore it. We are at an impasse, the shirt and I, and this stalemate mirrors another growing ambivalence of mine, one I have only recently admitted harboring: an ambivalence about the word “feminism” itself…”
ABIGAIL RINE teaches literature and gender studies at George Fox University. She is the author of the forthcoming book Irigaray, Incarnation and Contemporary Women’s Fiction. She writes regularly at Mama Unabridged.