Being the Token Feminist

Vagina Monologues 2012 051

I have never been shy, quiet, or reserved. Well unless you caught me off guard, but let’s forget that for now.

So when you have a class with me you probably know that I’m not going to be quiet. I’ll raise my hand and answer questions, but I’ll also be the first one to say “that’s bull shit” especially if I think it’s bullshit.

What this also means is if you catch me in a public place on a bad day you’ll probably hear how fucking exhausting it is to be the token feminist in the classroom.

So much so that I currently have a professor that will say, “You’ve been quiet today. What’s your perspective.” Emphasis on your is true to life. This professor specifically thinks that my opinion is so far out of the norm that my opinion is different than the other twenty students in class. This professor thinks I am so far out of touch that my opinions are different and because of that my comments are, at best, taken hardheartedly. In fact when a fellow more quiet feminist in the class came to me to tell me that every comment I make is followed with rolling eyes from students in the back row, this seemed true to how I feel my comments are being understood. As “the crazy token feminist.”

I am so far from being understood as equal that the student let’s call them “eye roller” sent my professor a youtube video and then publicly demanded that he play it during class. To which my professor quickly became very uncomfortable and shifting eyes toward me until telling the class in an almost whisper that it probably was inappropriate because it was, with a whisper, “sexist.”

The problem became that had I not been in the class, and the loud “token” feminist the video might have actually had a chance of being played. Because after all it’s just sexist. Sexism is sorta funny right? Laughing that women are stupid, or can’t play video games, or talk about shopping. Certainly these jokes aren’t old right? They are still true… aren’t they?

Not only was I singled out in this class, but I am also constantly the bearer of bad news. For instance it was complete shock to another professor that women in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina were sexually assaulted high numbers and indeed that “safe” space was the furthest thing from safe. My professor, udderly shocked continued with the lecture mentioning that, “she’s right, how do we make sure that single women are safe from harm?”

Had I not already created a distraction from where the lecture was suppose to be going I would have mentioned that these were women of all ages, racial backgrounds, and marital status. I would have mentioned that these women were women just like the women he has in his life. I would have told him that these are women in his classroom seeing as the statistic is one in six women will be survivors of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. I would have told him to stop treating survivors like “the others” survivors are not the others and by using this type of language the divide and the solidarity around survivors only strengthens. It is time to realize that survivors are people, in your class, in your homes, in your work place.

What does any of this have to do with a picture of me at the Vagina Monologues? I was the angry Vagina, and sometimes I feel like the angry feminist, but I’m not angry. I’m just tired. So tired. Tired of the eye rolls. Tired of always standing up. Tired of always spill statistics. Tired of always sending news reports, studies, and information to back up my statistics.

So if there’s a token feminist in your classroom. Or if you are the token feminist remember that there is a community out there that supports you. That believes that without your voice, without people standing up nothing will change.

-Token Tomato