What It’s Like To Be A Teenage Intersectional Feminist In The South

By McKae Sarkowski

Feminism is such a misunderstood concept where I live. I was born in South Carolina, and I have lived there my entire life. Growing up, my parents didn’t talk about politics, and I didn’t really care about feminism until I was about twelve. I started seeing these things happening around me, and I was angry, I didn’t understand why other people weren’t angry too.

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I have grown so much as a person and as an intersectional feminist because of my surroundings. I am very open about my opinions, and I don’t hesitate to share them simply because the majority does not agree. I like the fact that I get people thinking.

Being an intersectional feminist isn’t easy in the south, and it can be emotionally draining sometimes. I receive hateful anonymous messages and hateful comments on my posts. I have been harassed constantly at school, and it can be really hard, a common thing that I hear is that I have these opinions for attention. This comes to show how little people actually know about feminism. It’s not a show, it’s not for likes. It’s something I am very passionate about. I see these things going on in the world, and I want to do whatever I can to bring light to those issues and push change forward.

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Teens seem to have created their own definition of what feminism is where I live. They will have an opinion about feminism, but they won’t take the time to listen to feminists. To them, feminism is women thinking they’re better than men. They think women are just whining about things that don’t exist. Feminism is the belief that women should control their bodies, that women are equal to men, that women are not sexual objects, etc. I am a feminist because I started getting catcalled when I was twelve years old. I am a feminist because when a boy made a rape joke and I said it wasn’t funny, he asked if I was on my period. I am a feminist because I can wear whatever I want and still not be “asking for it” I am a feminist because I don’t want to be sexually harassed in the workplace, like so many women are.

I am often not taken seriously because I’m fourteen, or people just assume I go by what my parents say. I do this work because I believe that it’s right, and I use the resources I have to form educated opinions.

I may not be changing the entire world, but I can change someone’s world, and so can you.