Monday, February 18, 2008

Coming Out Feminist

Sometimes I think it would sit better with people if I came out as a lesbian than if I came out as a feminist. People at least know it's impolite to ask questions or judge when you come out as a lesbian. If you come out as a feminist, you need to do a lot of explaining.

Today in my Counseling and Community Agencies class, one of my classmates came out as gay, and another male classmate came out as bisexual. I, however, felt that the enviornment was too hostile for me to come out as a feminist. My professor mentioned feminist theory, quickly said that the word "feminism" scares her, had one person agree, and rushed to another topic before I could interject. We talked at great length about LGBT issues, and everyone who participated was very nice and honest about their thoughts and how their opinions have changed as they've grown up. So I was wondering why we were talking so much about LGBT issues, about which no one seemed to need a clarification*, but feminism in counseling wasn't talked about at all. Wouldn't it have made more sense to spend more time on the topic that people didn't seem to understand, especially since the topic was quickly dismissed as scary?

So I'm thinking about making a t-shirt this week and wearing it to class next Monday. I'm thinking it's going to say "feminist." on the front and "scared?" on the back. Or maybe "I'm a feminist, and I carry nunchucks." That may or may not be true, but would you risk saying something sexist to me just to find out? I don't think so.

*Someone did need clarification, but didn't ask for it. I just overheard the person in front of me saying this to the person next to her, and it amused me greatly to know that she would rather remain confused than to simply turn around and ask me to elaborate. I asked the professor if it was unethical to not diagnose someone with Gender Identity Disorder, even though they meet all the criteria, just because they have an impairment in social or occupational functioning, but they aren't experiencing clinically significant distress. I gave an example of someone who comes in for depression, is diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and then comes out as trangendered. Must I diagnose them with Gender Identity Disorder, even though it wasn't the presenting problem? Does it make a difference if the person is depressed because of the way they are treated for being transgendered? Personally, I wouldn't diagnose someone with Gender Identity Disorder if the only reason they meet the full criteria is because other people ridicule them to the point that it impairs important areas of functioning. People shouldn't be diagnosed simply because someone else thinks they're weird. During the break in class, the person in front of me said, "It would be like not diagnosing someone with Schizophrenia just because that wasn't the presenting problem." I would accuse her of comparing Gender Identity Disorder with a psychotic disorder, but I think my point went way too far over her head for her to make any sort of rational counterargument. So I'll let that one slide.


Megan said...

OMG I am going to make and wear both of those shirt ideas and I have no shame in stealing them from you.

But in other news, I understand the pressure not to "come out" as a feminist. It's hard sometimes. That's why when meeting new people I usually just get it out of the way first thing. It's usually a pretty easy thing to do because people know I'm the secretary of Feminist Student Alliance, but still. Just to make sure, I put it out there right away.

It's pretty crappy that they didn't talk about feminism. It's valid, it's important, and it deserves time even if it is "scary", which is ridiculous.

FEMily! said... has a bunch of cool fonts that I'll use for the tees. We're going to be twins with our new shirts! Maybe my shirt will spark a discussion on Monday.