February 26, 2015

Article: Speaking Up

Katie B.

Last week I was having a conversation with my sister over tea when she asked if I’d seen _______’s new YouTube video. At 25 my sister is eight years younger than I am and, while I do a decent job of keeping up with what’s relevant, she’s usually one step ahead of me when it comes to pop culture. I explained that I had no idea who _______ was. I assumed that she was another teenage girl singing songs about her broken heart. My sister had a good chuckle at my expense before explaining that this person is a young YouTube video blogger, public sex educator, and feminist. She then expressed her surprise at my never having heard of her because she is exactly the type of speaker that my sister assumed I would love.

Wait, what?

My sister proceeded to show me the video she’d referenced, sure that I would love it and that I would be so excited to have this public figure’s material to use with the young women I volunteer with in a local youth program. With some confusion I watched _______’s video entitled, “Why I’m A Feminist….” By the end of her stereotypical rant I was bewildered. How was it possible that in all of the years of our adulthood I had somehow managed to give my sister the impression that these were the sorts of ideas and politics I supported? As my true sentiments fall so far in the opposite direction of _______, I knew I had never said anything about these topics in conversation that should have led her to believe that the thoughts and opinions in that video in any way echoed my own.

That’s when realization set in to the tune of a growing and uncomfortable hum in my head. It was true, I’d never given my sister a specific reason to believe that my opinions were in line with this speaker or any number of other popular feminists, but I’d also never given her any reason not to believe that they were, either. A few moments of silence passed between the end of the video and me awkwardly mumbling, “But… I’m not a feminist.” My sister’s response was to once again chuckle at me for being out of touch and leave the room.

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