This semester, my first writing for the Women’s Center Blog, is also my last. After three and a half years of living in Moscow, seven different apartments, three changes of major and a couple of serious (and not so serious) relationships, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do when I moved here at 18: get out. But as I approach this major life change, it’s hard not to think about all the other, smaller changes that I continually face and accept.
Writing for the Women’s Center Blog has, in many ways, helped me realize how much I have grown during my time at the University of Idaho. I have had to become graceful in my acceptance of criticism, both from my editors and our readers. Not everyone agrees with what I say, for valid and petty reasons both, and that’s okay. Having anonymous comments posted tearing apart my pieces simply for the sake of argument makes one grow a thick skin quickly, and has encouraged me to go back and think about what point I really want to make. I’ve become better at writing, and better at defending it. A few years back I would have just cried.
Additionally, I’ve become bolder in expressing what I believe in. Even a year ago, I would never have felt comfortable addressing many of the issues covered by our blog. What would my friends and family think of me for writing about masturbation, for example, an incredible taboo? But having the supporting environment of the Women’s Center, both from the staff and my fellow writers, has encouraged my to start writing about what I find important and meaningful, not what is safe. I can share my successes and my mistakes, hopefully in a way that will help others make their own future decisions.
Finally, in writing for the Women’s Center Blog, I have learned so much about what feminism really means. Feminism isn’t bra-burning hippies fighting to dominate men, something I have worked hard to disprove this semester. But in the process I learned so much more. Feminism is a man dressing in a skirt so his little boy doesn’t feel stigmatized for wanting to do the same. Feminism is protesting naked to discourage slut-shaming and make the world safer for everyone. Feminism is choosing to stay home on a Saturday night to bake cookies and listen to bad pop music. Feminism can be anything you want, really, as long as the outcome and goal are equality. After this semester, I am proud to call myself a feminist and to know that, hopefully, in some small way, the things I’ve written can help someone do the same.
In the past few months, I’ve been able to not only get back into regularly writing but to do it in a way that has helped me realize the ways in which I’ve grown since coming to Moscow. There is so much that I’ll miss about this town, these people, and my fellow writers. But I know that, no matter what, the things that I’ve learned from my time in this town, at the University, and at the blog will always stick with me, and for that I am incredibly grateful.