If you haven’t experienced already, you will. When your friends and family, who you have revered perhaps your entire life as being wise, right, and accountable for your souls, tell you that modern feminism is greedy, you will feel like a crazy person. When your fathers, who have always been the final arbiter of spirituality and morality in your homes tell you that modern feminists are immoral hypocrites, you will wonder if it’s true.
When your sisters tell you “We don’t need feminism anymore because we can already vote,” you will wonder if you are overreacting. When the men and women who have been your spiritual leaders tell you that your beliefs stem from a hatred of men, you wonder if they’re right. You wonder if you are delusional. You will wonder if you have gone off the deep end.
You haven’t. You aren’t. Stand strong.
And remember, when the doubts start coming your way, how the religion in which you were raised didn’t see themselves as woman haters, despite the fact that their holy book taught that women should be quiet in religious gatherings, that women should not have authority over men in any fashion, that women are to be meek and submissive.
Remember that they did not see their beliefs as misogyny when they taught you to revere and follow a text that allows for the stoning to death of rape victims who cannot prove that they resisted.
Remember that they did not see the patriarchy in their actions when they forced underage girls to stand up in front of their congregations and apologize for the sins of grown men commuted against them.
We are not the crazy ones.
Remember how you were when you were in the thick of it. Remember how isolated you were, growing up in that culture. Think back to how few friends you had who looked different from you, who believe differently than you did. Remember what a tiny fraction of humanity you actually experience in that bubble within a bubble.
And think of how far you’ve come. Think of the friends you have met since leaving that culture. Think of the transgender people, the marginalized people of color, the bullied and threatened gay and lesbian coworkers you have found, and the things that you have experienced as a woman once you took the step outside of that tiny circle and into the real world.
Think of the long, rich history of our country and our world, built and pioneered and developed and defended by women, who were then thrust into the dark, dusty back room of our history books. Women whose names you never heard in that culture, and probably never would have.
Think of those things, and next time that Stockholm Syndrome-like fear rises in your chest, taunting you with the idea that maybe you have gone crazy, cling tight to the reality of how big your world is now.
Maybe your friends and family are not hateful people. Maybe they dearly love you. If so, offer them compassion. Offer them kindness. Remember that you were once like them, and like them, you could not see outside of yourself.
Offer them gentle love, but demand respect.
And if you start to give into the fear, message me. Because we are always stronger together.