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?

Interweb Finds: The unmothered, crazy bitch & more

Griffith Park

When was the last time you met someone whose struggles were so profound it gave you a good dose of perspective?

For me, it was yesterday. And two days before that. For my final projects (which will wrap up my first year in grad school!), I interviewed a 21-year-old inmate who was sentenced 40 years to life in prison and I went to a reunion for patients and the hospital staff who saved their lives. (Including this young woman and her fabulous mother. So moving.) I heard some pretty heartbreaking and inspiring stories this week. Journalism sure leads you to meet some fascinating people.

Here are this week’s interweb finds for your browsing pleasure:

Shannon’s post on not calling women crazy is an important read. I wonder: Why is it that the word is only used to describe men when they act out violently and uncontrollably but women get called “crazy” whenever they send too many consecutive texts to a guy?

A fascinating interview with the man who would make eating obsolete.

“I’m looking forward to the point where we don’t have to worry about hunger, or nutrition. Where people make food just because it’s beautiful—like gardening, or painting. I’m looking forward to the point where food can just be art.”

I love this guide to finding a mentor from Rebecca.

A slight contrast to the “crazy” post: Stop being afraid of being called a bitch.

“We have to admit to ourselves that it’s easier to sit behind a computer screen than it is to look a group of men in the eye at an Oscar party and say, Hey asshole, you’re demeaning the talented women you see in front of you, and I won’t hear another word of it.”

Gala put together a great roundup of advice for writers from writers.

Tabloid headlines without the sexism. So yeah. Without sexism, tabloids couldn’t exist!

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mom to celebrate on Mother’s Day. Here’s a beautiful essay to the “unmothered.”

 

Speaking of moms, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all the other moms out there!

Thanks for everything you do & have a wonderful week.

On chasing yourself

Today’s guest blogger is someone whose writing I have to stop and fully absorb every time she pops up in my reader—she’s just too damn good. So give her your full attention and let Shannon of Awash With Wonder astound you with her prose.
guest post series

“If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” – Emile Zoe

If you chase anything that is not rooted in a truer version of you, you will be so disappointed. If you chase a career motivated by the amount of money you can earn – you will earn a little more sadness, a little more weariness, with every single dollar. If you chase relationships because you hope that someone else’s love with make you lovable, you will find so much insecurity and unfulfilled desire there. You will not find life. If you chase success because you hope that recognition by others will make you worthy, you will exhaust and deplete yourself for people who will only forget you. Or maybe you will live on in the minds of strangers for a few decades after your death, but if you were not finding yourself in those accomplishments, was it worth it? Who are they remembering?

In everything you do, everything you ache for, everything you’re passionate about, make sure that you are looking deeply for yourself in them. Success is not the goal; authentic living is.

“I begin to understand that promises of the world are for the most part vain phantoms, and that to have faith in oneself and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course.” – Michelangelo

Your career will not be there to wrap its arms around you on lonely nights, but nor will the people who you invest in while you are neglecting to invest in yourself. There are no guarantees in this life but I know, with that quiet clarity that I associate with truth, that to invest in yourself is to invest in living fully. What does this mean? It means I will chase words, and the opportunity to be the one who crafts them, to the edges of the earth because it is part of me. Because there is a deeper part of myself somewhere in there. It means that you should chase the things that leave you breathless, the things that make you come alive, until you cannot run anymore and then you should crawl after them. The important point in that sentence is not  the “things,” it is what those things do for you. Seek life; not the people or jobs or objects that will suck the life out of you.

What is it that you find yourself wanting in the moments when you do not want for anything? The moments when you are not hungry, or tired, or lonely, or even ecstatically happy. In the moments when you just are; what does that deeper part of you still ask of you? Who you are is in the answer and that is always what you should be chasing.

Post originally published here.

Shannon Butler

Shannon is a student, yogi and writer currently living in Florida but with big California dreams. She blogs at Awash with Wonder about love, relationship with others and self, and intentional living. She is a poet at heart and wants all her posts to read like lullabies for your soul.

 

photo credit: adrienne nakissa.dylan page via photopin cc