This weekend I went to heaven. I went to feminist, film-buff, artistic, hipster heaven. This weekend I went to the Citizen Jane Film Festival.
And then I had to go back to earth.
At least I came back a more enlightened woman and journalist. I also might have returned with the confirmed notion that I probably belong at a liberal arts college on the east coast, where I can be free to don my long floral skirt, exercise a bra-optional policy and make independent short films with Lena Dunham.
Disclaimer: I do realize that not all women at these colleges fit this description. It’s an exaggeration. Go with it in the spirit of feminist satire.
I’m going to add to this charming introduction to say that this is the first time I have identified as a feminist on my blog and directly in any online social medium. I’ve always been careful to keep my biases clearly hidden as a reporter and am so careful as to what I consider a bias. For a while, I was afraid to show photos of my dog on Facebook for fear that a cat-lover wouldn’t want accept an interview with me (a slight exaggeration perhaps). Ah, the neurotic first few days as a reporter.
This semester, I’ve realized the types of issues that are important to me as a journalist. I’ve found a specific calling to report on women’s issues of equality and domestic abuse, and in doing so, I have wanted to explore how I identify myself as a woman storyteller. As a journalist obsessed with long-form narrative, I’ve always had an appreciation for well-known women writers, many of whom I’ve mentioned on my blog before. I made Joan Didion my laptop screensaver for a while so I could think,”Joan’s watching” every time I sat down to type out a story. Talk about pressure. Also, talk about seriously creepy.
When I think back to my childhood, it’s the women in film who first really grabbed my attention to the importance of storytelling. It’s no secret to any of my friends that I adore Meryl Streep. What they don’t know is that my love for her work is really just an admiration of her ability to tell someone’s truth so perfectly every time. She’s quoted as saying, “What really makes me feel so good is when I know that I’ve said something for a soul.”
When I think about my purpose as a journalist, regardless of my gender, that’s really what the goal is, right? I want to be able to tell someone’s truth and do it flawlessly with each execution.
The label of “storyteller” always comes first in my career ambitions. Secondly, I choose to factor in the “woman” part in my goals as a journalist. I want to be able to say something for women, to tell their stories and tell them well. Just like every woman who presented a film at Citizen Jane this weekend, I want to be able to represent something to other women.
And that is my reasoning for saying the f-word.
To me, feminism is the cognitive choice to consider my place as a woman in my industry, to factor it into what I do. So many women whom I admire set an example for me without ever once rolling out the “big f.” You don’t have to be a feminist to attend film festivals like Citizen Jane. Additionally, everyone’s definition of “feminism” word is different and shaped by their own lives. My feminism is printed neatly on my imaginary journalist contract, reading: “I Hilary Weaver, am a feminist journalist.” Experiences like Citizen Jane teach me that I don’t have to keep this contract secret. This weekend, I learned that the f-word is OK for journalists to say out loud.