Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Few bloggers these days have me latched onto their every word the way Shannon Butler does.

And when I asked the blogger behind Awash With Wonder to tell me why blogging about feminism is important to her, I should’ve known she’d respond with a blog post-length essay worthy of publication on a site that actually reimburses its contributors.

How lucky I am to have her thoughts for free.

For that reason, I’m keeping my introduction to this month’s installment of Feminist to Follow short and will let Shannon’s words show why she’s a feminist and blogger you should know. Read on…

Feminist to Follow: Shannon from Awash With Wonder

Blogging about feminism is important to me because I care about women and our role in the world.

In a recent interview with Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham is quoted as saying, “I just think feminism is my work. Everything I do, I do because I was told that as a woman, my voice deserves to heard, my rights are to be respected, and my job was to make that possible for others.”

I see feminism as my work, too.

I did not grow up wanting to be a movie star or a doctor or an astronaut. I had no clear goals. The only thing I’ve always known and that has become truer as the years passed is this: I love to be a woman and I love other women.

Even with all the bullshit women face, I have never wished I wasn’t one. I see it as a privilege to be able to befriend smart, funny, interesting women and get to experience that divine miracle that is supportive female friendship.

But do I wish there wasn’t so much bullshit? Yeah, I do – especially because there is so much of it.

Recently, a lot of women have publically asserted that they do not like catcalling. The response has not been what a rational person might think it would be. Imagine a world where people say, “We do not like this thing you’re doing; it makes us feel threatened and harassed” and the response is, “Well you should like it, it’s a compliment, stop being so ungrateful”?

Affordable birth control is still being fought for in 2014 in America. Just let that sink in. This in a country where maternity leave is either nonexistent or an absolute joke.

The response to a woman saying she was raped – which only a tiny percentage of rape victims report – is often not, “Are you okay?” but, “How much were you drinking?” or “How short was your skirt?”

Think about how many people you know who have a female boss or how many stories you hear about men having to fight to get paid the same amount as women who have the same qualifications and do the same job as them. I’ll wait.

That’s just a small percentage of the problems women face in America. Let’s talk global.

Malala Yousafzai was shot for daring to be a girl and wanting an education.

The 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram have reportedly been “married off” to their kidnappers. Those girls are under thirteen and are facing a lifetime of imprisonment and sexual assault.

Reading about girl babies globally who get abandoned, aborted or denied medical care by their parents because girls aren’t valuable in their societies is numbing. The authors of Half The Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, report: “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century.”

The number of people currently sold into sexual slavery and forced labor is hard to pinpoint – trust that it’s more than you think – but everyone fighting to save those people agree that woman and girls account for more than 90% of them. I can go on.

In her book, Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay wrote, “It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.”

There is so much to be concerned about. It’s hard not to believe that fighting for gender equality is too difficult, that it would be easier to just give up and accept that the world is dominated by patriarchal societies and we just have to deal with the misogyny and oppression that comes with it.

But part of being human is to hope for a better world and to believe that you may play a role in making it so. Fighting for gender equality is one of the most important things we can do to make the world a better place – not just for women but also for men.

Former chief economist of The World Bank, Lawrence Summers, believes “investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world’” and the United Nations Development Program found that “woman’s empowerment helps raise economic productivity…and increases the chances of education for the next generation.”

Giving women the chance to excel – a freedom they have been denied for centuries – will change the world. That’s why I write about issues that affect women and the way feminism has helped to give me hope.

I am not naïve enough to believe that just because I identify as female that I’m going to like every woman or support every decision she makes. But that’s not what feminism asks of me. Feminism simply asks that I fight for every woman to live a life where she is not oppressed or disadvantaged or allowed to die because of her gender. It is not too much to ask. It is the bare minimum, actually.

 

If you want to read more of Shannon’s thoughtful, eloquent writing on feminism, you’ll enjoy these:

Let’s talk about rape culture
Does your partner need to be a feminist?
Why representation matters

Thanks so much for sharing your words, Shannon. Be sure to check out other Feminists to Follow here.

Who are some of your favorite feminist bloggers?

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Comments

  1. I am forever blown away by the depth of Shannon’s posts – she is someone whose words constantly move me – even to tears, in some circumstances – and I’m so glad that she is fighting for feminism, and sharing her thoughts on the subjects she does. We need more of people like Shannon on our side! One day I hope to be brave enough, articulate enough, to voice the opinions I so often share with her, but – for now – I’ll do what I can in supporting what she writes, and will keep my fingers crossed that time will come.

    Thank you for featuring Shannon here, Cassie!

    • Thanks for your always encouraging comments, Tori. I hope that you choose to share soon! I promise that you’ll find a kind and thoughtful audience when you do.

  2. ohhh I could read Shannon’s words forever and find something new each time.

  3. “The response to a woman saying she was raped – which only a tiny percentage of rape victims report – is not, ‘Are you okay?’ but, ‘How much were you drinking?’ or ‘How short was your skirt?'”

    Shannon is brilliant and I love her posts, but she just summed up the biggest problem with our response to sexual violence better than anything else I’ve seen.

    • Thank you! I’ve actually heard similar phrasing a lot, but I also spent a lot of time on feminist tumblrs haha. It still boggles my mind that the first response is so often to blame the VICTIM for what happened to them. How? Why? I can’t wait until the day when that becomes unthinkable.

  4. I love Shannon; her posts are so spot on.

  5. Thanks for sharing this, Shannon and Cassie. This is such an important issue today and one that I’ve struggled to write about. I haven’t attempted writing anything because I don’t even know where to begin.

    • Yeah, there is SO much to cover, that it’s hard not to be too simplistic when writing about it. After I’d already sent this to Cassie, I thought of all the issues I didn’t touch on and worried that I wasn’t inclusive enough…but something is better than nothing. And I think sometimes even having a rough outline of allllll the shit that’s going on is enough to wake some people up.

  6. Yay Shannon! I agree with the Tori, the depth of Shannon’s posts are amazing, each and every time. The amount of thought (and research) that goes into them is so impressive, and her writing is just so damn beautiful. She’s one of the reasons I’ve started considering myself to be more of a feminist in the past year or so…I never really thought about feminism that much, other than stuff like bra burning, etc., haha…it’s interesting how even though I’m a female, I’ve gotten used to not questioning the status quo of our patriarchal society. Caring takes effort. Which reminds of this MLK quote that the boyf posted on Facebook earlier this week (he was posting it in relation to the Ferguson situation, and it’s obviously about race, but I think it can just as easily apply to the idea of gender equality, or any cause that’s worth caring about):

    “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’

    Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” — Martin Luther King, Jr, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

    • I’ve never seen that quote before! It’s so true and is applicable to other causes. The way I see it, I don’t engage with people online who have the complete opposite views (when those views are harmful: sexism, racism, homophobic) because I’m not going to change their mind. It’s all the people in the middle, who haven’t really thought about it or don’t have an opinion either way that I want to talk to.There’s more of those people and getting them to care matters, because it is their indifference that allows bigotry or hatred to flourish.

      My boyfriend identifies as a feminist now! And that’s after months of talking! I think it’s important for there to be some respect as a foundation whenever you have these conversations, or people will just not be interested in really listening.

      Also, re: Ferguson, the best commentary I saw to white people posting MLK quotes that encouraged a “peaceful” response was that even though he advocated for peace, white people still shot him.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing, Cassie! And thank you everyone for your kind comments. This was a really warm and fuzzy place for me to visit this morning.

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