I don’t recall not being a feminist. The word was rarely bestowed on me with admiration or kindness though. For the most part, people seemed to treat me as though I were fighting a battle no longer in need of champions. I knew this to be bullshit and I didn’t really care how weird or unpopular it made me.
Part of my non-digital Tori Amos collection
All I wanted was equality but I was constantly ridiculed and seen as a whiner for pointing out obvious inequities. I don’t recall pretending to soften my feminist views to some degree until my late teens.
As a 90’s girl through and through if I was asked to name my favourite musicians I’d quickly rattle off; Sarah MacLachlan, Alanis Morisette, Chantel Kreviazuk, Madonna, and Ani Difranco.
Usually my answer would be followed by an eye roll and a knowing look, “So, you’re some sort of raging feminist then? Are you a lesbian? I suppose you like Tori Amos too?”
At the time I didn’t know much about Tori’s music. I just knew she was considered to be the ultimate raging feminist musician.
“No, I’m not THAT much of a feminist!”
As I was saying these words I knew I was repressing something I felt incredibly strong about for the sake of fitting in. It felt extremely wrong inside. It felt like I wasn’t being honest with myself.
Even if someone suggested, with great sincerity, I’d probably really like Tori I just tamped down the urge to check her out. Hands on my hips, shaking my head and stomping my foot, “I just can’t go that far.”
I think I knew at the time that I would fall in love with her and then there’d be no coming back from planet feminist for me. I’d have to publicly plant my flag in the ground and let the haters hate even more than they already did. So I just argued my views until someone called me out as a crazy feminist, then I’d feel compelled to shut up and back down.
By the time I finally caved and was introduced to Tori in 1999 I was beyond ready for her. I needed her. It started with Under the Pink, Tori’s second album. A friend lent it to me and I think I listened to the album on repeat for the next two months. I was hooked. This woman was not just a feminist icon she was femininity incarnate in her performances.
Tori helped me to untangle all my insecurities about being a woman, a human, and showed me I wasn’t alone. She told me, through her music, that being a woman was just as important as being a man and that being a feminist is nothing to be ashamed of. She reminded me to be creative no matter the opinion of others, to be as eccentric as I felt nessasary (in my case a lot. Lol), to love wholeheartedly, and to speak out against inequality – any inequality.
Hearing her voice empowered me, emboldened me, encouraged me. Her music continues to be a strong source of inspiration, reminding me to stand strong in sisterhood and keep fighting to make sure women of the future need not suffer the inequities of the past.
I stopped tying to hide my feminist views long ago and I’ll never again push my beliefs down. My point is not to emphasize the importance of feminism – I’d say that’s pretty fucking obvious – but to emphasize the importance of embracing who you are at all costs.
Don’t hold yourself down for anyone. It’s not worth it. Stand up for what you believe in. There is so much to be achieved through radical honesty with yourself and radical empathy for others.