Feminism has, reasonably obviously, been useful to me in developing my thinking about the issues: reproductive freedom, gender essentialism, and so forth. But the underlying principles behind those issues – bodily autonomy, rethinking essentialising narratives – feed into life well beyond them. In working towards a more positive world, feminism constantly shifts my attitudes and approaches towards other people.
My respect for bodily autonomy goes well beyond specific scenarios of respecting reproductive freedom and sexual consent. Feminism has made me more aware of people’s boundaries around their own bodies and possessions, to not assume what kinds of touch are wanted. It’s also made me respect my own boundaries more, and to feel upset, rather than guilty and confused, when someone crosses the line. It’s made me appreciate similar efforts by other people, and therefore better able to choose the people with whom I want to associate.
In not assuming traits, actions, desires based on gender, I’ve moved further from assuming things about people based on other essentialising narratives. I’m better able to appreciate people as individuals, and more curious and engaged with who people are and the kind of world we can produce together. Feminism means, for me, moving beyond limiting narratives about the ways in which people can be.
Feminism has meant a movement towards a positive way of living, in which I can better understand how I work and better respect the fullness of others’ humanity.