Ever since I realized I had been living a very biased life, I have started to read about feminism more. People tend to dismiss a movement or presume it to be a form of extremism, so my view on feminism in elementary school had always been a bad one.
I did not know or care much about it in middle school, but I started to see social injustice between sexes and religions. In high school, I learned that we have come a long way – that in the past women were denied education or followers of certain religions were not able to practice their belief – but that we are still very much living in an unfair world.
From then, I started to read more about the second and third wave of feminism. Women being able to vote as the main goal of the first wave is one thing, but all of us being able to live our own lives without having to bow to society’s norms is another thing. Women still face many challenges in exercising their rights to decide for themselves. Men still struggle with the burden of toxic masculinity. There are a lot more struggles faced by people of color, people who are not heterosexual, people with disabilities, people who are transgender, etc.
Unfortunately, educating myself by reading is all I have done. My voice wavers when I voice my opinion, let alone giving a speech about it. My fingers shake when I rant about social inequality for a school assignment, let alone publishing it on a blog where everyone can see and comment on my writing. My words get stuck on my throat, when my family rants about how members of SGRC UI will “rot in hell”, let alone telling them that I am a feminist.
I am silent. I do not speak up about the change that everyone else is roaring about. I am not writing moving posts on Line or Path or Tumblr. I feel like I have not given any contribution to the society.
However, it is important for me to remind myself that I do not have to be loud in order to make an impact.
My not judging other people’s choice about their sex lives makes an impact. My listening to my friends’ problems about how their families treat their mental illnesses badly makes an impact. My telling my brothers that they are not less a man for wearing colorful socks makes an impact.
My promising myself to never raise my kids with biased views the way my parents did (and still do) makes an impact. My never looking down on other people based on their gender, race, religion, sexuality, or class makes an impact.
I may not shout to the whole world, but by disagreeing to these oppressing society norms and by not observing them, I will influence the people in my life. Maybe not my parents or the elderly in my family, but my siblings, cousin, and friends.
And even if the deeply rooted religious, patriarchal, and heteronormative society makes them resist my influence, there will always be the next generations. It is you and I who will be these next generations’ parents and teachers, and it is we who will implement tolerant, peaceful views about diversity.
To the people who think they are not revolutionary: you are. You really are.
Nisya Putri Shaliha is a 20-year old who majors in English Studies in the Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia.