Feminism to me, as a student of Politics, is a critical theory. Feminism to me, as an Armenian-American woman, is an everyday practice and embodiment. Both understandings, though taken differently in context, serve to inform one another.
I am grateful that I receive an education within my Politics department at the University of California, Santa Cruz that champions feminist and critical theory. It has taught me that nothing is neutral. Not our language, not our structures and institutions, and not our laws. Everything is created by and for someone, and historically, that someone is a white, cis, heterosexual, able-bodied man. These categories define our ideas of neutral laws that claim to treat everyone equally, yet oppress simultaneously. Feminist theory teaches me to use a critical lens and deconstruct what is presented to me as “truth” and to never stop questioning, with the end goal being the anti-subordination of those who our world does not cater to – True justice.
My everyday, intersectional feminism is informed by this theory, and it is a practice and mentality in which I struggle with everyday. To me, feminism is not declaring that I am no longer sexist, racist, classist, ableist, etc. It is recognizing that I have internalized oppressive thoughts and actions that were embedded into me the moment I was born, and that I must confront these internalizations and learn from them everyday.
My feminism teaches me to embrace and love all women and all of their identities. It allows me to support strong women or fragile women, working moms or stay at home moms; we do not have to embody traditionally masculine traits to be seen as worthy. It drives me to seek justice for all the issues women face: from reproductive rights to the unjust deaths of trans women of color at the hands of police. It helps me understand my role as an ally to women with different identities.
I could write pages upon pages of what feminism means to me and how my actions are influenced by it, but the take-away here is that I cannot separate my thoughts and actions from feminism, using or ignoring it whenever I feel like. My feminism goes with me to class, to work, to my weekly comedy improv practices, you name it. It has sparked a flame inside me that fuels everything I produce, and I intend to keep the flame burning strong, hopefully sparking one in others.