Guest post by Ashley Lauren, cross-posted at her wonderful blog http://smallstrokesbigoaks.com.
I don't remember a specific moment of revelation during which I came to the conclusion that I am a feminist; I've just grown up this way. When I was a little girl, my parents - my mother especially - encouraged my assertiveness and independence.
I didn't actually use the term "feminist" to define myself until my undergrad years when a series of wonderful teachers helped me explore the feminist movements throughout history and come to my own definition of feminism. Feminism, as I define it, involves taking note of the marginalization of women, exploring the reasons why women are marginalized, and making an outward effort to minimize that marginalization. As feminists, we should applaud any attempt at social progress, and participate as we see fit.
I have been very fortunate to be welcomed in to a wonderful feminist community through my blog and other social networking sites. The feminist online presence is particularly strong and, I think, a modern form of activism. I didn't become an activist, or an active feminist, until I started blogging, and now I see feminism and being a woman in a whole new way.
I see women differently, now. I see being a woman differently now. When you understand the relationships between women, and when you begin to associate with women who empower you, not with those who cut you down, you begin to see how powerful women could collectively be if we all stopped competing with each other.
I even see my relationship differently. I used to think being a feminist in a relationship was all about asserting your independence, to the point of pushing your partner away. Now, I see that feminist relationships are about having an equal partnership, and that being partners is even more fulfilling than just being independent.
I now see blogging as having a purpose. I started with my personal blog about a year ago, just as a way to update people on the happenings of my life, but I didn't really see a purpose to all the time I had spent on it. Now, thanks to my interaction with the wonderful women who have participated in my literacy interview, I see blogging as a form of activism. We are spreading important information, we are tweeting-up, we are talking about important things, and it can only get better from here.
And all of this has been because of the wonderful women who have shown me how wonderful it is to be, help, mentor, talk to, laugh with, share accomplishments with, and be a feminist with other amazing women.
I feel empowered now, and I want to make a difference, to go out into the world and make a real change. I hope this energy rubs off on a few other women, because that is the first important step toward women's empowerment.