If you had told me (or my friends, or my family) 10 years ago that I was going to create The Feminist Shop out of a need to spread the F word and challenge society's norms, I (and they) would have laughed in your face.
Even if you had told me that I would consider myself a feminist, instead of a strong advocate against the whole concept itself, I wouldn't have believed it. And if I am completely honest I can't remember when or how it changed, it has been an ongoing process and not a single lightbulb moment.
I have always had a strong opinion about the unfairness of society on womanhood, but I naively believed that it was just the last expression of a natural value system that was arriving at a logical end. As a lot of people are led to believe, my very simplistic view on the matter was the following: men and women are different physically, women are mothers and much more caring and all the cute things they say about us, men are strong mammoth hunters with sexual needs that want to spread their seed; society is now changing so those attributes are no longer necessary so once the important things such as education and perseverance get more valued then women will naturally get a more important role in society and the world will be equal. The end.
Oh, how wrong I was. Because what they don't tell you when they explain this to you is that the way society has developed has always been with men in mind, with men (mostly white, cis, heterosexual men) as the neutral human being - with everything always orbiting around them and keeping the differences alive.
The definition of success, the policies, the health system, what is important and what is not, the recruitment process, role models, the attributes we appreciate, the ones we are ashamed of, the jokes, the language, the hierarchies all those things have one only type of person at the nucleus. And as things keep evolving they keep replicating the same patterns, falling into the same traps. Repeating the same mistakes, and assuming it all as normal. Blaming nature.
People deny the existence of patriarchy because they think it is a group of suited men in a luxurious room laughing and drinking brandy while deciding how to torture women next. I don't want to deny the existence of those clubs, don't get me wrong, but that is not (only) what patriarchy looks like. To me patriarchy is more akin to the unconscious bias in our daily lives, the extra struggle for women to access finance for their start-ups, the much smaller presence in the media, the lack of positions in politics and powerful roles in companies. It's the lack of celebration of women's issues, the stigma about anything related with femininity and the constant patronising and policing of our bodies.
It was never about nature having made us physically different and a natural shift towards equality that didn't need feminism, it has always been about how those differences set a scenario with lots of barriers to breaking the status quo, how every single step in the right direction was fought for and never granted or organically achieved and how we stand where we are today thanks to the feminists before us who dedicated their lives to change a world that leaves 51% of the population behind.
I didn't get it either. I bought what they said about feminism belittling women and making us victims. I believed that the best I could do for women was to work harder and be successful, a big suck it up and 'boys will be boys', and secretly getting a tampax and hiding it as if it were drugs and resisting the shameful temptation of sex by not shaving my legs, plus a long list of other small unfair things that I couldn't see, or I didn't think twice about.
I look at the old me and have a lot of feelings about that young girl, a bit of shame ,let's be honest, some compassion, certain surprise and anger (how could I have been so much part of the problem? Seriously! the things I have said, #notproud) and I am so happy of my journey in which I keep learning every day. I am much more aware and angry that I was before, but as the one and only Gloria Steinem said "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off"
I know, I didn't get feminism either, I was that person. Good news? I am not anymore!