Gender & Identity, Life

Just because I’m quiet doesn’t make me any less of a feminist

That really cool girl we often picture as the image of a feminist? Yeah, that's not me.

Picture the quiet, submissive, obedient, perfect-haired, housewife image that was so prevalent in the 50s.

You probably thought of something like this, right?

Now think of the opposite.

What exactly are you picturing now?

The image that comes to my mind is a fearsome, cool, quick, witty, fierce, loud, and rebellious type of woman.

Something like this:

When we want to separate ourselves from the painful image of women who cannot speak their minds (the first image), we want to separate ourselves completely. Throw away those perfect bell-shaped skirts and white smiles and give me your oversized denim jackets and sly smiles/grimaces.

That second image is beautiful and empowering, and I have nothing against the women who fit that image.

However, not every feminist does. Like me, for example.

Yes, I am a feminist, but I hate raising my voice and confronting others. I prefer listening to and writing stories than speaking them. I’m not antisocial (read: introvert does NOT mean awkward or antisocial) and I love people, but I prefer small groups to big ones and often need time to myself. I write poetry but will probably never do spoken word. I don’t wear dark lipstick ever. My mean mug is awkward. I stop at stop signs and have never illegally downloaded a movie.

With this, I still consider myself interesting, and I definitely still stand for gender equality.

[bctt tweet=”I still consider myself interesting, and I definitely still stand for gender equality.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Previously, I had internalized this image of a feminist so much that even though I recognized both my feminism and my introverted personality, I always felt I had to be louder, have sharper comebacks, and dress differently.

I’d only realized this was not necessarily the only image of a feminist when I was asked a very simple question: “What book character are you most like?”

Immediately, I thought of all the strong female characters I looked up to: Elizabeth Bennet, Annabeth Chase (yes, the Percy Jackson series was my life in middle school), Ma Joad, Scout Finch, Minny Jackson, and Dido.

I remembered them for the loudness and I equated that with strength. Perhaps I was just remembering the wrong characters, but doesn’t it say something that in that moment the only strong female characters I could think of were extroverted ones? Like how does Elizabeth just come up with that and SAY it?

It was only later that I thought of the more introverted Aibileen Clark, Jane Bennet, Katniss Everdeen, and Mariam (from A Thousand Splendid Suns).

This was an eye-opening realization for me. Introverted characters and people, in general, can have personalities and can be amazing leaders, fighters, and thinkers. I decided I could be myself and did not have to have a certain look or voice to fight for the things I felt I had to fight for.

This was further ingrained in me in a moment last year at the DNC. Khizr Khan gave a speech about his veteran son, the Constitution, and Donald Trump’s proposed policies. Meanwhile, his wife, Ghazala Khan stood beside him.

Later, when Trump was asked about this speech, he said, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

[bctt tweet=”Quiet is not the same as being silenced, and strong is not the same as loud.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I empathized and identified with Ghazala Khan. As evidenced by Trump’s interpretation, the introverted feminist idea is made more complicated when you’re constantly told your religion oppresses you. That oppressed image is the default, and, unless you’re actively combating it, you will be labeled as such.

Couldn’t we allow Khan the right to be silent instead of being forced to talk about the painful matter of her son’s death? What did she have to do to prove she was not oppressed?

A feminist can be a stay-at-home mom, be awful at comebacks, and wear collared dresses.

For me, a feminist can be quiet.

Quiet is not the same as being silenced, and strong is not the same as loud. Just because I am introverted does not mean I will not be vocal. In fact, expect me to be vocal when I see injustice, but expect me to express it differently than an extrovert would.


Plenty loud without saying a thing.

I am not your typical image of a feminist, but don’t mistake me for anything other than exactly that.

  • Talah Bakdash

    Talah Bakdash is a current undergraduate at Emory University studying creative writing and psychology. Middle Eastern Midwesterner as she is, she most enjoys reading The Things They Carried while listening to Fairouz on her deck overlooking Kansas flatlands. With this, she is passionate about stories, whether they come in the form of a war novel, a 1960s Arabic song, or a conversation over black tea.