For a long time I had one response for someone who considered themselves a feminist and it was, "Get over yourself". I couldn't stand women telling me, "Don't buy from them, that's a sexist company!" or "Don't go watch that movie, the director is a misogynist" or "Don't say 'hey guys' to a room of girls, because that's rude!". I figured that there were so many rules to being a feminist that I would just never get it right, or end up offending someone if I ever tried to label myself as a feminist.
Feminism was also a dirty world for me because I came from a culture that condoned women who stray away from cultural values. I was from a culture that accepted the man as the head of everything and the woman as subservient and self-sacrificing. I knew that attempting to question or stray away from the roles that Mexican culture confines women to could have some negative results. I assumed because I was Mexican American and I loved and respected my culture and its traditions that I couldn't really be a feminist.
Once I started taking a class called La Chicana this semester, my outlook on feminism completely changed. I realized I was really ignorant about what the word feminist means because it could mean so many things! There many different types of feminists and there are millions of ways to practice feminism. I don't think anyone will ever be able to give a solid definition of feminism that encompasses all the diverse ideologies of the women who choose to call themselves a feminist. For me though feminism means being a proud woman who doesn't allow others to disrespect her or belittle her.
I quickly realized that I am the one who defines the way I would practice feminism. I could be a feminist and still love my culture as long as I didn't let it control me or hold me back. I began to see that even though they didn't realize it my mother and grandmother were feminists. They are strong women who have always demanded respect and never let anyone belittle them. In my relationships I would practice feminism by making sure my significant other always treated me with respect and as his equal. When it came to the media I realized that I can still have fun going to watch a movie, dancing to a Pitbull song, or reading a fashion magazine. However I am also able to identify and call attention to the ways in which women are degraded or misrepresented in these media forms.
Feminism is no longer a dirty word for me because I realized that to be a feminist means being able to appreciate and respect yourself as a woman, while making sure everyone else does the same. No matter how you choose to do it, practicing feminism is something every woman should be able to do!