Notes From An Introverted Feminist
26th November 18

Feminism. It’s not everybody’s favourite word, I know, but it’s one of mine. It’s a word which makes me feel stronger. Like I’m part of something. Like change is happening. People don’t like the word feminism because it sounds big and loud. It sounds abrupt and intrusive when it’s used in sentences and written in article titles. Feminism, as a word, has been made to sound crude and loud. It has developed an association with ‘man hating’ women. Violent and loud woman who don’t want equality, but something more. Woman who don’t know their place. But if you are a feminist, you’ll know that this isn’t what it is at all.


Feminism, as a movement, is full of different volumes. It’s screeching voices and hushed whispers. It’s mothers passing down truths to their daughters or it’s daughters in the dead of night, discovering those truths for themselves. It’s standing alone and screaming out loud, or standing in a crowd with a pin on your chest. It’s making waves, but also making ripples. It’s quietly observing whilst simultaneously taking your stand. Feminism is whatever we need it to be. And recently, these multitudes to the movement are levels which I am starting to understand.


I’m quite a shy person. Maybe not on the internet, but in real life at least. I think a lot, and so my head is always loud and full of big ideas and big waves, but I’m cautious in which of those thoughts I let out of my mouth. In most things that I do, I am an over-thinker, an over-analyser and generally quite an anxious person.

Growing up this way, I’ve been good at watching things from the sidelines. I realised from quite a young age where I fell on the spectrum between introversion and extroversion and I was quite happy to take up my space at the quieter end of the scale, observing my extroverted peers with awe.


As I grew up, my fascination with strong women started to develop. It started with The Spice Girls dancing around on my TV screen in the trendiest of outfits, laughing and yelling over male interviewers questions in a display of dominance I’d never seen from girls before. It continued with developing a love for female TV presenters like Fearne Cotton and Jameela Jamil, eyes fixed to the screen in awe of these women who managed to command a stage and an audience with such ease.


In recent years, this fascination and admiration for women who exhibit a strength which makes me feel stronger has extended itself to the incredible girls and women taking stands in their communities and screaming not only to make their voices heard, but other people’s voices heard too. Emma Gonzalez. Malala Yousafzia. Amika George. These amazing women who were using their voices for change. Who were helping to add fuel to fires and showing how important it is that we give space to strong women and their ideas.


I think feminism has taken on a new face in recent years and it’s one that can feel quite overwhelming if you try to view at all as one coherent movement. I’ve often found myself wondering, “am I really a feminist?” and I’d beat myself up over the fact that maybe I wasn’t. That maybe I had the wrong opinions. Or maybe I didn’t give as much thought to certain things and certain ideas as I should be. That maybe feminism was only for girls louder than me and stronger than me and braver than me. That maybe I was too young or shy or passive to be a feminist. That maybe I’d not done enough to prove myself yet.


When you think of feminism like this, and start comparing yourself to other people, it becomes incredibly daunting. My biggest realisation in learning to own my feminism has been that there is no one goal, and so there is no one correct way to be a feminist. Sure, the overall consensus is equality, but in reaching that point, there are a heck of a lot of really cool people all working together to add more fire to the cause. And that means that whether your feminism is loud and proud and powerful, or quiet and small and calculated, you’re still adding to that fire. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, your feminism is still valid.


I’ve learnt that maybe my place in feminism isn’t on the front line, standing outside parliament on a box and rallying the cheers of thousands of people. There are amazing, brilliant feminist women out there doing that right now and those are women who I admire an unbelievable amount. Maybe my place in feminism is something different to this. It’s writing my thoughts and helping to educate. It’s reading about feminism so that I have enough information to talk to family and friends about it and help them to learn more. It’s buying from independent female business owners and supporting films from female directors. It’s being a supporter on the sidelines – yes, a quiet one, but a powerful one in my own right.


Most importantly, I am learning that in order for feminism to really succeed, it’s about working together. It’s about all of us using our assets and the gifts we’ve been given in order to make our messages heard. That means helping to amplify our sisters who are quiet by choice or being quietened by external forces. Whether you’re loud and proud or working from the sidelines like me, the key part of feminism is that you’re willing to offer your skills to the movement in order to help all women to feel like they’re a part of something. That is where feminism comes together. That is where my voice, whether quiet or loud, can help.


Feminism should never be about comparison. It should never become a competition between women. It should be multiple movements working together in harmony. Loud voices amplifying quiet ones. Quiet voices spreading the word of loud ones. Women together, with one mission. To make every breathing being equal.