Editor’s note: This is the first in our latest series, “Why I’m a Feminist.” We explore what feminism is and how we live it in 2010.
My name is Sam Howard, and I’m a feminist because even in 2010 women are still being left out of the conversation of humankind.
It’s funny to look back on things that I’ve done in my life before I came out as a feminist, because I can see how I already was a feminist. I just didn’t have the word for it yet. But I still had the words to say when I felt that as a girl, I was being left out in some way. Before I knew about women’s rights, outside of a “girls rule, boys drool” discourse, I stuck up for women, namely myself, in the realm of toys.
I had a bone to pick with the Lego company. An avid appreciator of those colorful building blocks, I saved all of my allowance and chore money to buy different kinds Lego sets. (My favorite collection being the wild west one. Duh.) But the more Legos I bought with my saved- up dollars, the more frustrated I got. Where were all of the lady Legos? I asked my mom.
She carefully looked at all of my Lego figures, and we separated them into male and female piles. Out of my huge collection of Legos, there were less than ten women Legos. So she helped me write a letter to Lego explaining that I was girl who loved Legos, and that I had many other female friends who loved Legos, and well darn it we wanted more girl Legos in our sets!
I didn’t know it, but I was a little feminist back then by starting to put women into a conversation and a context they’d been left out of. (FYI: Lego send me back a personalized and hand signed letter kindly explaining that their sales showed that boys buy Legos far more often than girls, so the figures that come with the sets reflect that. But, they apologized for my feelings of alienation and sent me a load of free Lego ladies, which quickly replaced the hoards of Lego men I had.)
I came out as a feminist in college because simply put, it’s important to me. It’s important for me to let people know that we are not in a state of gender equality and someone needs to keep fighting that fight. And I know that at least one of those someones fighting the good fight is me.
I can’t really consider feminism a lifestyle, but I can and do consider it a part of my identity. I don’t share all of my identity with everyone I meet, but I will share it with anyone who wants to know about it. My own personal brand of feminism comes out in my what I choose to read, the way I react to things on campus, and how I choose to respond to people in the workplace, which is all to say I choose my feminist battles wisely. To respond to every single oppressive and sexist thing I see in a given day would completely separate me from most of this world that I live in and frankly, it would be exhausting. Not everyone wants to hear my speech about why that sexually-demeaning-thing-I-just-heard-that-guy-say-hurts-women-AND-men-equally so I choose who I’m going to have that conversation with.
I see the action of having that conversation as fighting my feminist fight.
I identify as a feminist because of all the ways I see women, all kinds of women being left out of the conversation: be that conversation about children’s toys, innovation in the workplace, sexual desire, religious doctrine, or anything else.
–By Sam Howard